Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Paris recap

What can I say, I had a wonderful time! It felt as though I hadn't been there in 20 years rather than 8 months though - that was strange. Audrey picked me up from the station (can I reiterate how amazing it is to get on a train and be in Paris in little over 2 hours?) and we went straight to my favourite sushi place! We would go every Wednesday to get our fix, so it was only fitting that this be our first stop. Amazing menu: salad and soup, sashimi and skewers and rice all for 15 euros. Scrummy.

Then we went to Audrey's apartment which, like all great Parisian starter homes, is on the 6th floor without a lift! Once you get there you feel on top of the world. I lived in a similar space in 2003 in Saint Germain des Pres. Good times indeed and staying with Audrey took me right back to them.

The following day we had an early lunch with a lovely colleague (sushi again - love it) and then I went off to my pastry class at LeNotre. It was weird going around in the Metro on my own. It felt like my town, I was at home, except it was no longer my home. It is hard to explain.

At LeNotre I actually had the same teacher who taught my croissant class 8 months back, so that was cool. Macaroons are far more do-able than croissants and the results are so rewarding, so in the next few days I'm going to put up instructions. Watch this space. It was so fun to be back in a professional kitchen and to learn with people equally passionate about pastry. I mean, you can hardly discuss icing tip width with just anyone (unless you want to lose your friends as they slowly die of boredom).

I left the class on a high for sure. I found out that retraining as a pastry chef would take at least 2 years - such a long time. A part of me wishes I had done that in my early twenties, when there seemed to be so much time. 2 years was nothing. Anyway, I will definitely be making macaroons again, and I look forward to experimenting with different flavours and creating my own. Lots of fun and mess ahead!

Audrey and I met on the Champs Elysees after that and looked at books. I love French bookshops and can browse in them for hours! There is a new Laduree book out if anyone's interested. It looked very good indeed. Finally a book that divulges a bit of that Laduree magic.

I found a fascinating novel about Sephardic Jews. These are Jews who originated in Spain rather than Eastern Europe (Ashkenazic Jews). I am a mix of both, but am considered Sephardic as this goes according to the father's background. The novel is about a Sephardic Jewess whose family comes from Morocco but lives in Strasbourg. She is about to get married and it's meant to be one of the most important explorations of Sephardic culture ever written. It's a long time since I've been so tempted by a novel, so I bought it and am certain I'll talk more about it as I work my way through.

No stop at the Champs Elysees is ever complete without a visit to Sephora! We bought some face masks, took them home and enjoyed an evening of soup and makeovers. It's fun to be a girl!

The following day we started off at Mora and G. Detout, the professional baking/confectionary shops. Mora sells every conceivable item to make cakes and to decorate them. It is replete with chocolate moulds and the like. A sight to be seen to be believed. G Detout looks like a person's name but sounds like 'J'ai de tout' (I have everything). And this is true. Anything pastry-wise that you could want, G Detout has. I went to buy a few things that were recommended in the macaroon class.

Here we have a 7mm icing tip, a whisk, a mixture that is 50% ground almond 50% icing sugar, Tonka, and violet chips. The plastic things are bowl scrapers. The pastry chef told us how important it was not to waste anything and these are phenomenal at not leaving bowl and spoon lickers anything at all to taste! I wish we had equivalent shops in London.

We also went to an amazing ribbon and button store, 'la Droguerie', where we found supplies to make our own jewellery. I loved these profile discs and chose to mount them on these flower rimmed bases. I then stuck the earring attachment on the back. So easy and so beautiful in my opinion. I've already enjoyed wearing them.

Then we walked to and through the Marais, which you all know by now I love. I love all the little boutiques and the vintage finds. It's just a delicious place to spend an afternoon. Here are a few pics. 

As you can see, the cupcake trend has hit Paris. Of course, they are mini teeny cupcakes, for the teeny 'Parisiennes'!

Love Paris' rose shops

I spotted this dog, which might be the cutest thing that I have ever seen. And I love all the flower shops everywhere. It's easy to be romantic in Paris.

Then Audrey and I were ready for a break and a treat. We thought we'd head up to Le Train Bleu, a grand and highly esteemed Parisian restaurant which also serves tea and cake. Train stations don't tend to be the most salubrious places, so I didn't know what to expect. I knew about this restaurant because Marc nearly booked it for us when I was on secondment and because a blogging friend suggested it. When we got there it was like a faded glory: grand yet sad, somehow, and a little depressing.

So we didn't stay, and headed up to Laduree, which by now feels like my second home (what a privileged person I am). I tried one of their new macaroons: fig and date flavour. Since I am in love with both figs and dates, you could say that I was in heaven.

And that wrapped up a perfect two days in Paris. I loved my reunion with the city and with Audrey. But I missed home as well, and I was happy to see Marc again and delighted that he had brought me a delectable piece of chocolate cake... which I shall review next. Suffice to say that it was the best I have ever had. Au revoir Paris, je t'aime!


Esme said...

Well that was disappointing about Le Train Bleu-glad you had a wonderful time and cannot wait to learn how to make macaroons-did you buy the Lauderee book-I am going to search for it now.

Nadia said...

What a fab mini-break! Sounds like you had such a lovely time revisiting your Paris! The macaroons looked so yummy, as did the sushi!!