In the blink of an eye, it is once again the end of summer. For someone relatively young, I bemoan the quick passing of time quite a lot. I know that it only flies by faster as you grow older, and right now I am having my pre-real-world freak out session ( where I get nervous about graduating and having to do real-world adult things in the real adult world) , so please feel free to ignore my crazy self.
Really I ended up having a great summer; kind of experiencing what my life post-school might be like; and though that sounds quite lame in comparison to the adventures some of starry-eyed teen dreams up, I can’t say I minded horribly. I hung out with my friends, helped my sister film her music video (EVERYONE should check out White Sea, she is amazing and the single will be out soon), and tried to resurrect my piano skills. Most importantly I worked at an well-known and respected bakery Bottega Louie, and used the opportunity to learn as much in the kitchen as I could.
The kitchen conducted itself like some kind of insane perfectionist orchestra; everyone had to move together in perfect harmony or the music just doesn’t vibe. Every detail was important from the size of a raspberry to the sticker placement on a box of candy. Sometimes it felt like I was in some bizarre kitchen version of Stepford Wives where everything had to be perfect all the time; however I’ve got to say, that kind of attention to detail is what made Bottega Louie a destination spot for both tourists and locals. A success.
Besides feeling extremely proud of the work I did while at work, I got to meet some of the best people. Never before have I met such a wonderful and engaging group of individuals, who took me under their collective wing and made me feel comfortable in the kitchen. I hope that I can learn from them and give that same feeling of acceptance to those who I work with in the future. Though I’ll be leaving Bottega I know that I have made friends who will stay with me long after.
I guess that all of my feelings of anxiety are spurred on by the fact that I am indeed getting older. This summer I turned the big 21 and though I revel in the fact that I am no longer restricted access to anything or anywhere, I am also hyper-aware that things are going to start changing quickly three months from now, when I graduate from Johnson & Wales and start real life. I have not even a faint clue what awaits me, but I know it is time to get excited, not scared. Excuse me while I go find my grown-up pants…
This week was surely the most nerve-wracking of them all. We dove straight into constructing entrement while also working to finish our projects as we had the mid-term run through on Friday. As I just said, and will say again for emphasis, it was most nerve-wracking. Entrement in themselves are simple: a cake made of mousse surrounding different flavor and texture inserts. Fun to create and pretty simple to put together. However, I think that the imaginary failure phantoms were plaguing everyone and that just made the experience rife with tension.
Ultimately, we all made it through and in my opinion everyone really did an exceptional job. Except for some silly mistakes with recipe recalculation and such we all managed to make it through relatively unscathed. I think that my entrement, the one with pale pink macaron pictured below, turned out awesome considering how nervous I was beforehand. The layers consist of a dark chocolate sablé breton cookie, a hazelnut financier, and a sour cherry coulis which are all surrounded by spicy dark chocolate mousse.
When the dust had finally settled it was time to wander over to Lyon with my two favorite ladies Sam and Stephanie. I can’t even express the love I have for these girlies and they were really a big part in my France experience. Without them there are so many experiences and adventures that I might have missed. Anywho, off to Lyon we skipped and never have I eaten or walked more in my life. It is an absolutely breathtaking city. The hills, the olds cathedrals, the ancient Roman theatre and the creepy puppet museum…and I haven’t even begun to speak about the food which is obviously the most important feature of a city, let us be honest.
Most of the days we spent leisurely strolling around the city. We certainly managed to visit many things (THANK GOD for all things being free for those under 26 years of age) but we didn’t rush or hurry our way through anything. The city itself is just wonderful; the view from the old city down on the river was stunning and even as my nose froze off from the biting wind I couldn’t seem to look away. We managed to visit both the Guignol museum, which scared the bejesus out of me….something about old dolls just gives me the creepies. The best part may just have been the old traboules of the city. These old passage ways wind their way through the buildings and you are likely to find one just by pushing open random doorways in the older sections of town. We got traboule happy and at one point tried checking all the doors on the street; we even got locked in one for a hot second! ( Needless to say it was both exciting and slightly terrifying.)
Ultimately, the food is the reason to visit Lyon over and over. We managed to eat at three different bouchons, which are traditional Lyonnaise eateries, while we were there for three days. This in itself is a feat because the usual fare at bouchons is extremely rich and filling. I have never been as satisfied after a meal as I was each and every time we ate in a bouchon. Though they often serve things like blood sausage and tripe we managed to steer clear and instead got things like cheese scallop ravioli, moist chicken smothered in creamy tomato sauce, and the ever amazing quenelles (basically lobster or langoustine soufflé usually doused in a bisque…..can you say ridiculously mouthwatering?)
I had such an amazing time and it truly convinced me that I could happily live in France in the future….now I just have to figure out how I can stay!
Sweet and tiny, chocolates and all kinds of confections are some the most dangerous items because it is all too easy to eat till you are overfull. However, though these cute little joys are a hazard to my health I really can’t say I’ll ever give them up! Chocolates and Confections week was upon us and I had so much fun, especially since we got to use chocolate tempering machine!! (I’ll let you in on a secret….tempering chocolate is such a pain so when Chef Pierre rolled in two super deluxe tempering machines I was secretly fist-bumping myself. Don’t get me wrong, tempering chocolate isn’t hard it, but it is messy. Too bad I’ll never be able to afford the pricy machines…le sigh.)
On a happier note; I really found this class to cover a wonderfully wide range of recipes and techniques. We produced everything from ganache filled bonbons and chocolate dipped nougat to colorful lollipops and marshmallows. In the end our buffet looked like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I was really proud of what we managed to put together ( especially since trying to arrange a buffet, all the while trying to merge 14 different inputs and ideas, is quite the herculean task.)
One of the best parts, and I’m being straight up honest and can guarantee that this would be backed up by ALL of the ladies in my class, was our chefs utterly adorable french accent. He has been learning English for six months and it is really amazing how well he speaks considering that tiny morsel of information. It actually really inspired me to work on my French with the same dedication….though it is super difficult because as soon as anyone hears you are American they insist on practicing their own English….bummer for me.