January 12, 2024. Today is Friday! We've made it through one week so far. Here's a photo of some of my classmates and me waiting for our practical lesson earlier this week. We were making Potage Cultivateur in the Atelier kitchen, which is on the main floor with huge glass walls so anyone walking into the school can watch you work. It's kind of like being in a fishbowl.
So earlier this week I had a day off, but needed to use it to watch an online demo (some of our classes are in video form), and when that was out of the way I took my knife kit across the city to get some of my knives engraved. The shop came recommended by the school since everyone's kits look the same and we don't want to mix our tools up or lose them.
Here are the results as displayed on my chef's knife:
In other news, it snowed this week! I wasn't prepared, and it's been brutally cold when the sun sets each evening.
Everyone says it never snows in Paris, but I'd like to make note that this was also Paris last time I was here in 2018:
Anyway, on Tuesday night I didn't feel like sitting at home alone in my room so I sent out the bat signal to my classmates in our group chat and got one person to agree to crepes for dinner! (We ended up ordering galettes instead, which are savory).
I had a lot of fun getting to know my classmate, Anthony. He comes from La Martinique and was as unprepared as I was for the snow. He's working in a professional kitchen before, which was fascinating to hear about, and his knowledge really comes out in our practicals when he's already halfway through the recipe and the rest of us are still chopping vegetables!
He only speaks French so we sat around for a long time trying to converse over our galettes and cider. Then, for lack of something better to do, we hopped on the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower (in 26ºF weather) and walked around the perimeter just because we could.
Next day: back to school to make the potage. The first half hour was absolute chaos. The only comfort I can take from it is knowing that the rest of my classmates sometimes feel just as lost as I do (except for the speed-pro, Anthony) so it was all hands on deck to distribute ingredients, supplies, and generally figure out what recipe we even needed to be prepping. Anyway, we made it to the end and then descended into (organized?) chaos again, both cleaning up the kitchen and also presenting our food to Chef. Chef said my vegetables were all the right sizes, but I could've added a little more salt.
Here's the sunset we got as we left school:
And then I put my potage in the fridge and took myself on a walk around the neighborhood to get out of the house a little more. I found a place selling hot chocolate for 3.50€ and used it to keep my hands warm, then walked over to the neighborhood church and did some exploring. Look at their giant-mini nativity! And on my way back home I found a bookshop with a whole wall of pocket-books.
Yesterday, Thursday, was the most fun. I had a 7:30am demo all about soufflé and eggs! Who knew there were SO MANY different ways to prepare an egg. I think we ended up with at least a dozen, and I've certainly never seen anyone deep-fry an egg before. This photo (from my classmate) doesn't even cover all the styles we were presented with. Thankfully we only have to poach an egg and make an omlette in our practical.
Hopefully I'll get a photo of my own soufflé later today when we attempt for ourselves. All I could think of was Audrey Hepburn making flat soufflés in Sabrina and I hope I have a little more success!
After the demo, I came home and discovered I have a new housemate! My host family has welcomed another student from America, and we hit it off pretty well. I had plans to go walk around Montmartre so I invited her along and we went exploring in the (cold) sunshine.
I love the basilica of Sacré Cœur, it's so peaceful and there was hardly anyone there yesterday which was fantastic.
We walked back down the backside of the hill and ended up popping into a teeny tiny cramped restaurant for lunch. It was absolutely packed but they were able to squeeze us in. I had some of the daily special poached eggs (how relevant to that morning's class) in a mushroom sauce for starter because I saw the table next to ours had some, and then the duck with potatos, while my new friend had chicken with some kind of winter squash. We were so pleased with the results!
I made a mistake and forgot I was supposed to meet my friend Paul at 3pm (both of our faults for not checking in sooner), so having finished lunch at 2:50 we packed up and got back on the nearest metro. We split down the line so she could go home and I could keep metro-ing down the line. I got to Paul's neck of the woods a little later than planned, and we took a walk to Picard's (remember the frozen-food-only store like Trader Joe's I mentioned a few posts back?) and picked up a snack to take back to his apartment where we caught up over tea/ coffee. We were trying to come up with a list of new places for me to visit this time around and I mentioned someone had suggested Parc de Saint Cloud (pronounced clood), to which he responded "well, do you want to go right now?"
...so we pulled out his motorcycle and an extra helmet, I borrowed an extra sweatshirt, and we zipped off down the road. He says the best way to experience Paris is by bike, and I have to agree, although maybe not in January. It didn't take us very long at all to get there, and I got to see a fantastic view of the city before the sun went fully down, but we did get lost trying to find the right entrance and both of us had plans later, so we didn't stay long. I think we're going to try again sometime when it's lighter and less cold. He said it's a great place to go running too, which he does for work all the time.
My plans later involved me hiking my butt all the way from the south/ southwest corner of the city to Place de la Bastille to meet different friends for sushi dinner (these are the friends who I had crêpe night with last Friday). We met at a bar to grab a drink first and I got a whole download on their recent workweeks, although it got a little hard to understand because bars are loud and they talk fast when they're irritated about something. Sushi was across the street, we got tucked away into the back back back corner and ordered up a storm. It was an all-you-can-eat situation and they've definitely got a system for ordering. It was super efficient.
New thing I learned: the French (or at least these French) prefer sweet soy sauce instead of salty. I told them we don't get the option in the states and they thought I was crazy for preferring the salty one. Honestly I liked the sweet one too, it's kind of like eel sauce, might even be the same thing. Anyway, we were there for ages. They got us four tiny bowls of little lychees for dessert which was fun. If I'd gone out with my friends back home we probably wouldn't have started in a bar, moved to dinner, and ordered dessert at the end. I was also the only one that stuck with just water during dinner (although that coke zero might've been to keep one of them awake, he was so tired). The longer we stayed, the more tired we all got, and the harder it got for me to understand what was going on because they stopped enunciating and my brain started shutting down and reverting to English, but we had a good laugh about it.
They left me at the metro and someone mentioned raclette this weekend, so maybe a new food adventure is in store?