Welcome to Blog #3… This blog is focused on the happenings of my declared ‘birthday week’ as a new ex-pat in Paris. What happened, you ask? I took a Patisserie class, went to the Opera, visited the Eiffel Tower, attended a night of classical music, went to a Yin yoga workshop, was offered a fantastic new job, and last but not least, attended a popular networking meet-up group called: the Paris Women of Success!
Jumping right in….
I had just said to a new Paris friend of mine, that one day I want to take a cooking course or lesson at the Cordon Bleu in Paris! Are you familiar with that timeless classic movie, ‘Sabrina’, starring Audrey Hepburn? Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the movie, (ahem), a few times, but truthfully, I have always wanted to have the Parisian cooking school experience where she: “learn how to ‘crackk an-egg’” (I can hear that French chef’s accent now), all the way to making a killer soufflé. So, when I got the call to fill in for my friend’s mom at the last minute, I jumped at the chance!
It was a 3-hour course at La Cuisine Paris https://www.facebook.com/LaCuisineParis where I learned how to make the Croissant and other breakfast patisseries. Before getting into a few details about the course, I just have to say that La Cuisine Paris runs a pretty tight ship and from the service, the experience, the ingredients, the magic dishwasher, and the nice coffee at the end to go with our well deserved creations, I welcome you to check them out!!
The infamous Croissant. It was the most challenging of the patisseries to make – and after making the Croissant in its entirety, with the exception of waiting overnight for the yeast to rise, my respect for those who make home made (sans machine) Croissants, has gone up by a factor of, about a million. We made 2 versions of our ‘pate’ called: pâte levée feuilletée, learning how to properly blend, fold and delicately, yet firmly, roll the dough and butter together. Sounds easy right? Because the temperature in the room was warm and there wasn’t time to refrigerate the dough at each stage, we were at the mercy of the butter. The exquisite butter was being unwieldy, wanting to tear through the delicate dough, and escape! How dare it! I’m mean it was submission time, obviously not for the butter, but for us dough-eyed learners. (Excuse the pun). While rolling, it was sticking to the marble, when the goal was to get our dough thinner (by another half) and in theory, unstuck from the table – ha! Flour was our friend (eventhough it added to the denseness of the dough). Meanwhile, our instructor mentioned why pastry chefs wear white and why in the class description online they advised that we wear white also. Did I miss reading that part in my excitement? I showed up wearing black…need I say more? We did however wear these clever plastic aprons that allowed us to write our names on it, and gave us the freedom to practice flour tossing onto the marble countertop, just like the pros…(I still have to work on my elbow action).
We also made, Le Pain au chocolate (yum!), Le Pain Swisse, Le Pain au Raisin, La Crème pâtissière and made 2 little pastries with jam inside (the exact names are alluding me), and with the little bit of left over dough, we made little tiny cinnamon buns. Nothing was wasted and there were lots of goodies at the end! I learned many little tricks of the trade and lots of great techniques. Notably, I learned that a real croissant made with butter is perfectly straight, while ones made with margarine have that famous curve. Now you know…go for the croissant that looks straight! In all this butter glory, I couldn’t help but think of Julia Child; especially, her legacy and her relationship to butter and her inexhaustible connection and love for Paris. At times during the class, I truly felt like I was in a movie and would quietly chuckle under my breath at the thought.
Right after that class, I zoomed to the Yoga Studio where I’m working in exchange for yoga classes. As I bounced my way from Patisserie class to the yoga studio, I wondered if the hint of delicious baked goods would follow me in – nope, the aroma graced the metro as I could tell these curious glances in my direction had nothing to do with the remaining flour on my black shirt.
The next day, I was at L’Opera National de Paris as an early birthday present where I saw The Italian Girl in Algeria by Rossini at the gorgeous Palais Garnier. The Italian Girl in Algeria was also the very first Opera I ever saw in Elementary school in Victoria, BC and was pivotal in my desire to later study singing at University. I enjoyed very much the historic and decadent decor of the Palais Garnier, soaking up the history before the Opera started. As I stepped into narrow hallway leading to the box seats behind door number 14, I thought about all those who had walked the same path since 1875. Keeping all this rich history in mind, I was in one of ‘my happy places’ listening to the beautiful orchestra and the extraordinary singers who made singing Rossini’s acrobatic arias sound way to easy! Bravo! I am looking forward to many more musical experiences in this amazing city!
Saturday was my birthday and I spent much of it walking in the rain, the first almost full day of rain since arriving March 9th.. I had to smile. It reminded me of Vancouver quite a bit. The city got a nice rinse, as did the air – and for that, I’m grateful! That night, a friend of mine and I went to St. Paul’s church (gorgeous!) to listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Pachelbel’s Canon and some gorgeous songs sang by an impressive counter-tenor. There wasn’t a program so I can’t really tell you what he sang – however, I can tell you that the music was lovely and brought me back to my ‘strings’ days in elementary and in junior high school. The church was packed and the music filled every corner of this majestic church.
The day after (Sunday), I headed to my yoga studio to attend a Yin Yoga workshop, given by a fellow Canadian. I really didn’t know much about it prior to going, so this was a perfect introduction. Yin Yoga is a more relaxed type of Yoga, where there is emphasis on ‘being’ and feeling the ‘stillness’ (ahem, I need to do that!), while stretching (called: “stressing” – the healthy kind) the body. It is a good compliment to all the Yang Yoga Practices (like Ashtanga, and Vinyasa etc). I dare say this type of Yoga is kinda perfect for me right now.
What a week, but it didn’t end there!
Monday, I was delighted and excited to be offered a contract working 4-days a week for this amazing American company called Paris Muse. They provide educational, high-quality private Museum and Walking Tours in Paris, given by highly qualified docents (expert art historians). I’m really looking forward to starting with them in a few weeks! I welcome you to check out their website: www.parismuse.com and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paris-Muse/110823521586
Tuesday, I was happy to join a large group of ambitious and super talented women, mostly all entrepreneurs, rocking their businesses here in Paris. It was an empowering and welcoming environment and pending my work schedule, I hope to go as often as I can. Cool fact: a number of them collaborated and have published a book coming out this May called: My Paris Story – Living, Loving and Leaping without a net. I am so looking forward to reading this book! (I’m sure their stories will resonate with everyone, no matter where you live). Please check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/myparisstory?fref=nf
I’ve joined a long and continuing legacy of ex-pats living in Paris and to quote the fabulous Audrey Hepburn: “Paris is always a good idea”. Whether visiting or living – this city of lights is really beyond description, it’s mostly a feeling. And I’m feeling pretty darn good about it!
Go to it, Go for it, Go live it! (Allison-ism continues)
Lots of Love and Light.