Wednesday, December 27, 2006

From classroom to coalmine... oh, and happy b-day, Jeebus.

The collective meal at the awesome art squat Théâtre de Verre, next to Bonnes Nouvelles.

Gooey warm chocolate and Grand Marnier tart. Yes, it was as good as it looks. Hot and cold desserts class.

La Caprice: Oreo-coated black truffle ice cream with liquid cognac center and warm lemon madeleines. Hot and cold desserts class.

Yann Tiersen at Le Bataclan. My copine Christine is in the backround.

And the bow goes to.... !

And just like that, more than 8 months in Paris have flown by quicker than the blink of an eye. Spring, summer and fall have come and gone, Christmas has passed, and 24 weeks spent chez Lenôtre have blazed by in a sugary blur. My last week of class turned out to be my favorite, that being hot and cold plated desserts. Good desserts, ideas, and techniques-- and no superiority-complex jerks. All that remains as far as school goes is my exam, which I hope to pass in quiet solitude immediately after New Years. Naturally it's intimidating... especially given the fact that if I screw it up I have a quite narrow window before I return to the US in which I could redo it. Every single one of my other classmates have passed theirs, so hopefully I can follow suite with no major catastrophes.

I spent last week in production, where instead of sweating over a hot stove I instead froze slowly but surely to my core in a very cold lab as I put the finishing touches on a seemingly neverending number of bûches. The French take their jelly rolls seriously: designer bûches can easily fetch prices upwards of 100 euros, take last year's Lolita Lempicka, for example. This year Lenôtre collaborated with well-known architect Philippe Starck in creating a seemingly minimalist bûche, which was in fact anything but. I saw the (frankly quite unimposing) thing a few times at school, but not its fabrication. The labyrinth of production is extensive, and I was busy in my own world of red glitter-coated raspberries. I think a secret elite team took care of the Starck contraption. But as far as degustation goes, I actually had the good fortune to be able to taste a genuine homemade bûche out in La France Profonde with a clan of frenchies, at the end of a gargantuan meal that stretched until nearly 3 am. How did I end up in Denier? Grace à mon ami Benoît for inviting me, and of course the rest of the Lesieux family for having graciously hosted and humored a displaced americaine on Christmas Eve. Sadly, I was able to properly photo-document neither my personal record-breaking consumption of oysters nor the stark yet lovely countryside, as I lost my camera battery charger over a week ago (a regrettable occurence which I hope to rectify very soon). However, I have in the meantime been taking some pictures with my nifty fisheye camera, which I may be able to post eventually.

The distasteful task of preparing for the imminent trek back home is upon me. It's impressive how many things I have accumulated, not to mention all the stuff I plan to get before leaving, largely pastry-related. A substantial amount will likely stay behind, which is indeed practical but also a mind trick whereby I will be able to feel like I haven't left my life here in Paris for good.

No comments: