Friday, 29 November 2013

New look, new focus

Before, I moved to Paris, a French friend of mine told me that, from a culinary point of view, living in France was just like being in the movie Julie and Julia. I was skeptical, and have spent the last three months waiting to be disappointed. But I can categorically state, he was right.

Yes, there is a small baker's shop opposite my apartment, where I can pop down and buy fresh croissants, and baguettes so hot from the oven, that they burn your hands on the way home. Yes, there is a large turn-of-the-century market hall in the next street, where I have made friends with one of the grocers who will suggest just the right ingredients for whatever I am making. Yes, the city is full of the most amazing patisseries which compete with each other to create stunningly beautiful cakes that make you want to weep.

If I had to find something to complain about or criticize, it would be that the baker's is closed on a Saturday, and I have to walk to the next street to find the nearest alternative; the market is only open three days a week (although one of these is Sunday), and the patisseries can be expensive.

As well as the sheer range and quality of the food, I have been overwhelmed by the fads and fashions I have seen here, many of which haven't been heard of outside France. I have also discovered that there are myriad opportunities to learn how to cook as well, ranging from lessons at well-established cooking schools, to masterclasses with celebrity chefs.

All of the above led to a bit of a crisis on my blog, as I had no idea what to focus on as I couldn't write about it all. So, I have decided that a change of focus and a new direction are in order.

This blog will now focus on patisserie. Every week, I will try one classic pastry, from a famous shop and then recreate my own version at home. As I learn, I will share my recipes and insights here which will build up into a manual. I am also going to take a class once a month at a different cooking school and will blog about my experiences there too. Updates in between will focus on anything I happen to notice around town and feel like sharing.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy. Updates coming soon about the oldest macaron shop in the world, a masterclass with a real TV celebrity, and a legendary tart made by two sisters. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Friday, 8 November 2013

Photo du Jour: 8 November 2013

Bouchée à la Reine

Whichever Queen the Bouchée à la Reine was named for, must have had a very big mouth. Seriously, I suspect that the name  is actually a corruption of Lorraine, which is the home of this puff pastry case,  filled with a comforting mushroom sauce—just right for a November picnic. In Anglosaxonia, we tend to use the Belgian name for this, vol au vent, which is just what I was about to do in the picture as it's windy in Paris today. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Photo du jour: 4 Novembre 2013

Selection of current best selling cook books in France. These include books by Christophe Michalak also a popular TV chef, and Claire Heizler, and Anne-Sophie Pic, the third generation in her family to be a three star Michelin chef. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Photo du jour: 3 Novembre 2013

Twins - Paul Pairet

This is a design for a dish called Twins by Chef Paul Pairet of the restaurant Ultraviolet in Shanghai, China. There are two identical looking plates, one with tomato and mozzarella and the other with the same forms created in sweet food. You are supposed to eat one, and then the other to provide a kind of sensory confusion. This was one of the exhibits at Cook Book an exhibition at the Palais des Beaux Arts here in Paris. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Photo du jour: 2 Novembre 2013

Big Fernand hamburger

According to Le Figaro, Big Fernand serves one of the five best hamburgers in Paris. Distinguished by typically French flavors and ingredients, they sure are good. The beer from the north of France wasn't half bad either. More to follow. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Photo du jour: 1 Novembre 2013


European congers are found off both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of France. This six footer (he's been chopped in half) is average since they can reach almost 10 foot in length and weigh up to 240lb, making them the largest eels in the world.