Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dinner at D.E.P.U.R.

After being thwarted on our plans of a bouillabaisse blowout and subsequently an oyster blowout, we finally went to Drôle d'Endroit Pour une Rencontre, a place that's always caught our eye directly next door to the brioche store (essentially across the street from us). The Dj'd music was extremely loud, but it was dark, friendly and casual with good food.

First course of white asparagus velouté for Ryan and a red radish and mixed green salad with slightly minty dressing and thin seared slices of andouillette for me. For plats he had sauteed pickeral (sandre in French) with chorizo and white beans, I had sauteed bar (like sea bass) with citrus and spring vegetables. We shared a bottle of Colombelle which went fine with everything.

Skipped dessert as we had had an enormous (and good) one for lunch at Laetitia and Xavier's place. I took no photos, but we had jambon cru and an almond-studded saucisson sec from the Alps, a really tasty warm tart of roasted red peppers and chèvre, followed by lamb chops, yummy couscous and more of the peppers, and then a big hunk of white chocolate mousse on a base of crunchy pailleté feuilletine and chocolate. It was an especially good day of eating yesterday!

Recent products

Brioche a la main.
Vanessa finishing babas.
Babas au rhum!Before...
...and after.

Other classes this week

Foie gras from the buffet class.

Foie-stuffed chicken from the catering class.

Nice looking meat thing from the seasonal menus class.

Nougatine boat (I would have preferred a pirate ship) from the croquembouches and mounted displays class.
Ice cream and sorbet from the --surprise!-- ice cream and sorbet class. I thought the foie ice cream was pretty good, but I wasn't a big fan of the basil. Extremely good chocolate sorbet.

Friday, April 28, 2006

School lunch and product tasting (obligatory!)

Noodles, mushroom and endive galettes, cornichons, salmon pasta salad, green salad; me and Mario sampling our babas au rhum; mille feuille last week.

New discovery at the brioche store

We discovered a new product at our bakery which I think is only available on weekends: crusty, chewy little rolls full of baked-in treats. My favorite is the black olive and anchovy, but the lardon roll is obviously as good as it sounds too. The best part about them is that the fillings have been tucked into the dough, not kneaded in, so you hit a vein of salty goodness.

Dinner lately

The worst "curry" ever; faux filet with shallot sauce and garlic butter, leftover pasta bake and nice wine (to make it up to ourselves for the curry incident); garlicky potatoes, sauteed spinach, cheap but good smoked salmon, fried egg, parmesan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dispatch from Viennese Boot Camp

There is a viennoisserie boot camp, and I am a recent inductee. God help you if you egg wash carelessly, have your butter temperature off by one degree, don't align your items symmetrically just so, butter your pans at an innopportune time, or press something (that is indeed supposed to be pressed on) slightly too hard-- or worse, not at all.
New teacher, whole new ball game...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Stuff from school lately

Awesome decorative breads from the Pains de Tradition class, sea urchin flan with cream of asparagus from Starters According to Joël Robuchon, I think lobster-roll something from the starters class, stuff from the viennoiserie class, and a showpiece from the beginner's sugar art class. Sweet! Haven't been taking many pictures from my class, as there's nothing aesthetically outstanding yet. I may post a few soon.

More dinners

Delicious steak with shallot-wine sauce AND garlic-parsley butter with (not shown) leftover pasta, and then sauteed spinach, leek-egg frozen patty thing, and sauteed new potatoes with onions, garlic, cheap-o "chorizo" (not so great) and parsley.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Oh, what I would give for better spatial reasoning, more precise small motor coordination and a robot translator! Mocha cake and eclairs are my two new archnemeses. Not so much the whole cake, but the pattern we were doing on top. And not so much eclairs, but the piping of the dough. So, cake decorating via bread knife and dressage via piping bag have been the true bane of my existence the past two days. I also sensed that my pithivier had tremendous potential to drive me over the brink into permanent insanity, but it I think it turned out ok (we bake them tomorrow, so we'll see). The week went by very fast, in general but also truthfully as it was only 3 1/2 days instead of 4 1/2. For the next two weeks we will have a different teacher, which I am nervous about as our current one is fantastic in both skills and personality and the next one is, well, also fantastically skilled but more intimidating. Old school. But hopefully I'm wrong, and someone already told me I am, so I'm hoping they're right. That I'm wrong.

I need sleep.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter at Vaux le Vicomte

We went out of the city yesterday with Sophie and Julien to Vaux le Vicomte, a big ol' château south-east of the city by the same dude who created Château Versailles. They were having an Easter egg hunt and other kids activities like pony rides, face painting, fencing with foam swords, and a chocolate workshop in which Julien produced a bunny whom he dubbed Monsieur Chocolat. It was nice to get out of the city for a change of scenery, although the weather was kind of poopy.

Barbès market

Shoulder to shoulder moshpit-style madness! This is maybe the closest one can get to a market experience of, say, Morrocco in terms of energy and crowdedness (not so much so in terms of unfamiliar products). Basically a squirming sea of bodies, and many dozens of vegetable-stall dudes incessantly bellowing things like "TOMATOES!! ONE EURO A KILO!! GET YER TOMATOES RIGHT HERE!!" or many times just a drone of "one-euro-one-euro-one-euro-basket-of-straaawberrieeeeeees...".
As we were leaving, we passed by a cafe on the street at which there was a woman in one window stretching out dough on an oiled prep table, filling it with some kind of cheese, and then grilling the large oblongs on a small electric griddle behind her. In the other window was a burly guy who had a similar makeshift setup, with maybe a square foot or so of prep space and then a battered wok in which he was deep frying 5 inch square turnovers whose dough was not unlike phyllo. Faced with the dilemma of choosing between the lady's and the guy's respective dough things, I did the obvious and went with the deep fried option. It was delicious! Delicately crispy, greasy but not too much, it appeared to be filled with mashed potatoes, chopped green olives, egg, some kind of minced meat, and a gooey center of what seemed like sour cream. But what was it? [Edit: I have since been been told it was the Algerian fried delight known as "brik" (frequently known also as "brick"). The pastry wrapping is similiar, as I said, to phyllo, however even more delicate-- and thus crispier when fried... which is the point!]

Dinner lately

Sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes, peas from Barbès and roast chicken, roast chicken again with olive and pea pilaf, La Garrigue from Stroher-- basil, chocolate, lemon, strawberries... I dunno, the basil gave it a weird spaghetti sauce quality that I just couldn't enjoy. Even supermarket chickens here seem to be pretty nice, frequently free range/ vegetarian fed, and also cheap.

Friday's products

Our teacher and some classmates with vol au vents, brioche, chaussons aux pommes, vol au vents again. Not too bad!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Aux Charpentiers

I highly recommend Aux Charpentiers at 10 rue Mabillon. It was very cute inside, the service was extremely friendly, and was really a great deal for how good it was. I had the prix fixe menu for 26 euros, from which I chose a starter of marinated white anchovies on top of warm chunks of yellow potatoes dressed in olive oil and chives, a main course of pig's foot (yes, you can't really tell in the picture, but I'm wrestling intently with a gargantuan breaded foot-- garnished by a tiny leaf of parsley), and a baba au rhum which was not bad. We shared a perfectly fine 19 euro bottle of I forget which Gascony red, and had a very nice time.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Chicken Soup and Pork Chops

The soup was of course the end of our roast chicken (shown previously), the bread is awesome pain de campagne from the brioche store. The pork chops were from the boucherie which is literally right downstairs. We rubbed them with a ton of dijon which still could have been more, made crème fraîche mashed potatoes with sauteed onions, and tried these little leek quiche-y things from the freezer case at the grocery store which were pretty good.