Rue de Seine

One of my favorite streets thus far in my foodie adventures in Paris is Rue de Seine in the Saint Germain des Prés area in the 6th arrondissement.

It is home to my favorite Spanish restaurant/shop/café, Da Rosa, where one can enjoy a glass of wine and melt-in-your-mouth Jamon Bellota, or take some [cher mais delicieux] canned moules a emporter. Just across the street is Grom, the italian gelato chain where the speedy English-speaking scooper handed me my tangy, thirst-quenching sorbet au citron. Perhaps I’ve been in the [pastry] kitchen too long but I love the movement in this shape. Doesn’t it remind you of George Washington’s wig?

Citron

The street, and neighboring streets as well, is lined with patio dining, art galleries, boulangeries, wine bars and cute boutiques. It is also a stone’s throw from Gérard Mulot and Ladurée. Wandered too far? Just follow your nose and you’ll find yourself in front of the huge skewers of roast chicken next door to Grom.

Mangue et Pêche

Picard. We also call it “the morgue.” Why? Don’t let the cute little snowflake emblem throw you. Oui, the chain store sells frozen foods, and that’s all it sells, but it looks like a morgue! Large freezers, bright lights, pristine white non-décor–it screams creepy [morgue].

My friends claim the frozen prepared foods here are decent and better than T.V. dinners back home. I’ve learned when you find a good thing, you stick to it. Or, in this case, it sticks to me!

Mangue et Pêche

One-Handed Croissants

Today we finished making croissants. We had made the détrempe dough yesterday (easy peasy, even though I had to do it with one hand) and today, we did the hard part: rolling the dry butter in to the dough and creating the croissant layers in the whole rolling, turning and chilling process. Again, I did it with one hand. Well, maybe one and a half hands. I’m quickly learning how to be ambidextrous (the hardest thing so far is brushing my teeth with my left hand. I can shoot lefty in soccer, lacrosse and probably even basketball if I put my mind to it…but getting those back wisdom teeth is hard work!)

Not too shabby, eh?

Tour Croissant

I should have put one of these guys next to everyone else’s croissants. Can you tell I made them mini?

Mini

I prefer them smaller not only for portion control but also because I think they taste better this way. I’ve never enjoyed a huge croissant, but a small crispy one? Yum. We also made pain au chocolat:

Pain au Chocolat

All in all I was satisfied with the outcome of my dough. I think it will be interesting to try and make it at home in my own oven. Chef Grandpa said if we added more “turns” to the dough rolling process, they would puff up more. That I shall try. Oh, and I also got Gramps to try one of my croissants 🙂 (The Chef’s rarely taste our finished products, but I always try to be a little more convincing than others)

Tartlets

Chef Tranchant made tartlets for demo today: orange, chocolate, almond, pear and lemon. Beaucoup de tartes! The tarte a l’orange was my favorite. Nicely bruléed (with cassonade sugar, which apparently is better for bruléeing, according to Chef), and awesome tanginess from the orange juice and zest. A great summer treat!

Tarte a L’Orange

The tarte au chocolat was surprisingly tasty too. I had my doubts, given my skepticism of the quality of chocolate used at the school, however the silky ganache was a nice contrast after the tarte a l’orange.

Tarte au Chocolat

The other tarts were less memorable. I especially did  not like the almond and pear tarts because the shells were made from shortbread, which rarely appeals to me. The tart au citron lacked the tangy goodness of its brethren, the [aforementioned] tarte a l’orange.

Tarte au Citron

When 18:30 (yes we’re on army time here…we also use centigrate!) rolled around, it was our turn to have a try at these mini-tarts which after the tastiness in demo, I was pretty excited to make (especially since we were assigned my favorites: orange and chocolate). The dough was the most difficult part because given such a short time (< 3 hours) in practical, we cannot chill our dough as much as Chef does during demo. While he may have the ‘same amount of time’ in demo to create the same dishes, Chef also has magical [television] powers as seen on most cooking shows, a.k.a the ability to “make ahead and chill.” Our dough was quite challenging to roll out and press in to ring molds. The difficulty was enhanced by the fact that there were people coming in and opening and closing our refrigerator doors, having stored items for a special event at the school that evening.

Ma Tarte au Chocolat

So the dough part got me a bit flustered, having torn my dough a few times in transit from parchment to ring and consequently, in my eyes I had ‘fallen behind’ my fellow classmates. I mean, it’s not a competition but when you’re rushing to make six tartlets and others have already finished molding their crusts and you’re still rolling out your third dough, you get a bit anxious.

Ma Tarte a L’Orange

(Chef Walter had us use white granulated sugar)

Perhaps anxiety and ‘falling’ behind is good for this rabbit. In the end I still finished before the majority, not that rank is all that important in this non-race (we’re all here to learn). After all, it’s the final presentation the Chefs take in to consideration and value (Oui, c’est vrai. Unfortunately, the chefs rarely taste our creations).  Donc, voilà! According to Chef Daniel Walter (nicknamed Chef Grandpa), I had the nicest tarts he had seen all night 🙂

Voilà

Macarons

Today in class, Chef Tranchant made macarons. He said, however, that we were not making them in class since they are for intermediate students who have better command of piping technique. Therefore, we made batons and palets aux raisins…womp womp….

Macarons de Tranchant

Macaron? No thanks. Buttercream? Pas de buttercream, s’il vous plâit. I suppose being an unenthused macaron consumer, I have set the bar super high for macarons to be worthwhile. Although I enjoyed watching Chef Tranchant make the mini-me sweet sliders, I was skeptical. Would it be as crunchy yet crumbly inside as the ones that wooed me from Sadaharu Aoki? Unfortunately, no. Some of the macarons were hollow in the ‘supposed-to-be-crunchy’ meringue top. Furthermore, the macarons stuck to my teeth. Ick! The greatest disappointment of an ill-made macaron. And I wasn’t just writing him off after one macaron, I had the decency to try all four or five different macarons and fillings, just to reassure myself that no way are macarons as easy to make as he made it appear.

Pierre Hermé

So since we had a break between classes, friends and I decided we wouldn’t let a few macarons ruin our day. I wanted to prove to myself that I cannot just blacklist an entire food item because of a few bad experiences. While I may not love a certain food (ahem, zuchini), I will still give it a try because I know it can be prepared in different ways, by different people and therefore my reaction to it may be different. Sound logical? Well, logic proved delicious in this case!

Pierre

The chocolate and [moreso] the milk chocolate and passionfruit macarons from Pierre Hermé put my palate, stomach and mind at ease. The passionfruit was just delightful on such a hot day (and after all those,dare I call them, nasty aforementioned macarons). However, I don’t think I’ve ever craved a slider more than today. All that egg white and sugar makes me gaga for salt! So I picked up a baguette from Le Quartier du Pain and made a sandwich with the Prosciutto San Daniele, arugula, tomato, lemon and Parmigiano Reggiano in my refrigerator. No biggy.

Le Sandwich Traçoise

Oops. I may have finished the whole thing before returning to class and that may have induced some early stage of comatosity. Yet somehow, I was still able to create these bâtons chocolat-amandes:

Jenga!

I’m not sure that Chef Daniel Walter loved my jenga pieces. I mean, he asked for uniform bâtons and I figured, what better (or more fun or more creative or more kid-friendly) way to show congruity in my bâtons than in the form of Jenga? Ho hum…perhaps they don’t have Jenga in France?

Triple Sessions

I am blessed with hours upon hours of education these past few days. Translation: I have class from 12:30-9:30…so hopefully a lot of learning going on, with a side of exhaustion. Pass the coffee, s’il vous plâit.

Gateaux Basque

Actually, this learning thing is not so bad. Demos are kind of slow at times, especially if we’re reviewing techniques previously learned such as making pastry dough, meringue or pastry cream. Then again, it’s nice to practice and perfect them come practical. Plus, I can focus more attention on presentation and less on sablage or frésage.

Tartine de Poire et Amandes

The best part was, after class ended, my friend Catherine and I went to deliver our treats to a classroom of visitors taking one-night class. Chef allowed us [and our tartines] in and besides complimenting me on my tartine, which I had yet to taste for fear that a missing spoonful would render it ‘unsalable’, he invited us for dinner. In other words, he offered us pinot noir from Alsace and some untouched, leftover [salty] food. Woohoo–salty! It’s funny how badly I crave a slice of Prosciutto San Daniele or better yet, Jamón Bellota, after nine hours of pastry…