Monday, August 26, 2013

My Paris

I've been planning to write this post for sometime now, but between planning my new website (more information on this to come) and cooking up a storm in the last two months after returning from Paris, time has been scarce to sit down and write.

Long before my many hours working as a pastry chef and learning to make delicate French pastries, I started dreaming about going to Paris. I remember learning about the classic French cooking methods during my chef training and being so enchanted by their appreciation of cooking methods that have been in use for hundreds of years. Then specializing as a pastry chef I learnt about their passion for only the best ingredients, Belgian dark chocolate, full fat farm butter, stone ground flour, Madagascan vanilla beans, and so I started dreaming about working in an authentic French Patisserie one day.

Eiffel Tower

Paris street
My dream came true in a surprising way, when I got a job in Dublin at La Maison de Gourmet, a very well know French bakery in the heart of Dublin. I jumped at the opportunity to run the pastry production all on my own. The fact that I was working night shifts, six days a week didn't seem to deter me one bit. On Friday evenings I worked with a French pastry chef who would help me with the huge work load for Saturdays and teach me new recipes as we worked through our production lists. 

Eight years later, on our recent European holiday my husband and I finally spent a week in Paris,  something we've always dreamt of doing together. I must admit, I found Paris rather intimidating at first, but once we met up with a good friend of ours from South Africa who currently lives there, our hearts were opened and warmed to this bustling city of love. I put a whole day aside to go on a pastry shop adventure, stopping at about four of the most well known pastry shops or patisseries in Paris. Obviously Laduree was on top of my list. Inside, the walls were covered in the most beautiful Asian themed wallpaper in a cool green, covered courtyard. We ordered macaroons and the most delicate strawberry mouse cake with infused teas and sat for what felt like hours soaking up the atmosphere.

Laduree display

Strawberry mousse cake
Apart from the beautiful display windows I just loved looking at the fresh produce available in Paris. The little cardboard punnets of fresh berries on display was just like I'd seen in magazines. I tried some delicious things like white asparagus, different peach varieties and ate more cheese than I've ever eaten.

Buying berries
The other stop that I just loved was this chocolate shop, there seemed to be as many chocolate shops as patisseries in Paris. They were rather pricey (as most things are in Paris) but I had to spoil myself with a little bag of carefully chosen hand-crafted chocolates! My absolute favourite was the cherries in liquor, dipped in dark chocolate and hand-made marzipan in dark chocolate.

By the end of our week in Paris I'd worked through my little list of culinary experiences. It included things like eating a crepe at a authentic Creperie, buying cherries at the market and savouring the world-famous macaroons from Laduree. Paris is definitely one of those cities you'll have a completely unique experience in every time you visit and I'm most definitely planning another visit and working on my next list of "culinary to- do's".

Selecting chocolates

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