Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Notes from Paris

Bonjour from Paris!

So sorry to neglect my blog these past few weeks.  I've been busy preparing for my big trip to France and Italy.  My friend Marika and I have been waiting for this adventure for almost a year, and the time has finally arrived!  We have spent the past week soaking in the City of Lights.  Paris is a magical place, full of intrigue, romance, mystery, and buttery, mouthwatering pastries!  I'd be lying if I said that my primary focus here has not been fixated on locating every delicious morsel Paris has to offer.  We may not have found them all, but it certainly wasn't without trying.

(You'll have to forgive the less then perfect quality of this post.  Blogging on my iPad from overseas is about as much fun as trying to have a conversation with a Parisian who doesn't speak a lick of English.  Which is to say, a bit of a challenge!)

One of my fondest memories from Paris will certainly be the French cooking class I took at La Cuisine Paris.  It exceeded all my expectations!  We started by meeting at the local outdoor market at Place Monge, selecting produce, cheese, and meats by whatever looked freshest.  With no fixed menu, the sky was the limit when it came to our meal, which was dictated only by what looked best at the market that day.  

Our instructor, Camille, was knowledgeable and friendly.  We settled on Salad Nicoise the traditional way (no tuna, no boiled potatoes, no green beans, and certainly no corn!), roasted little potato wedges, seared duck breast, currant and raspberry clafoutis, and an assortment of French cheeses.  Not bad for lunch, eh?  Here's a picture of the fruits of our labor!

When I return home to Alaska, I hope to post a recipe for the salad- it was undoubtedly the best Nicoise salad I have ever tasted!  The duck breast was perfectly seared, and the potatoes were crisp, golden, and buttery soft on the inside.  Paired with a crusty French baguette, and, oh, say four glasses of white wine (yup- got a little lit by the end of lunch), it was one of my favorite vacation experiences.  I can't wait to return to Paris and take another class!

We also loved meandering through Thursday's Bastille open market.  Row upon row of produce, cheese, and charcuterie vendors, not to mention booths pandering to the droves of tourists.  We successfully avoided most of those and picked up several delectable treasures for the most perfect picnic lunch EVER.

Not everything in Paris has been totally rosy.  We had a pretty perilous time trying to figure out the damn train to Versailles.  Paris's metro system is pretty easy to dial in, but the train system in Paris is not always second nature.  I told Marika that if she hadn't been there with me to help figure it out, I'm pretty sure I would have broken down in the middle of the train station crying for my mommy. :)

And then there was to Louvre.  Oh, the $&@?ing Louvre.  The day we visited the worlds greatest museum of art, we were exhausted after traipsing all over Paris.  We literally walked circles around the massive museum looking for a way to get in before almost giving up.  HOW ON EARTH DO YOU GET INTO THIS DAMN PLACE?!?!  We asked one Parisian selling water how to get in, and the bastard sent us on a wild goose chase in exactly the wrong direction (we later read that Parisians love messing with tourists this way.  I was tempted to relocate the guy and punch him in the face.). This picture I took sums up how our I felt about our trip to the Louvre.

We finally asked someone who appeared official where the entrance was located.  In the glass pyramid in the center of the museum courtyard, of course.  She looked at us like we were a bit...touched.


God, did we feel stupid.

By then, we were so fed up with how the Louvre turned on us that we could barely muster the energy to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.  We did, but we didn't see much else.  Louvre fail.

On our last night in Paris, we enjoyed a quintessentially Parisian meal of jambon (ham) and melon, seared steak with shallot sauce, frites, several glasses of house wine, and the biggest profiterole anyone has ever seen.

It was as big as Marika's head, and we nearly polished the whole thing off.  We really did Paris proud.

Now Marika is dozing off next to me on our train ride to Chamonix to begin the second part of our trip- a week hiking in the French Alps!  Looking forward to beautiful views, picturesque mountain towns, and more exciting culinary treats!  Stay tuned...

Au Revoir!
xo H

No comments: