Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 28

Thursday day 28

Graduation!  I walked. I don't understand the grading system, but I know my grades suffered because of the catastrophe yesterday. The most important and valuable thing is that I passed. 
This has been a wild and wonderful journey into food, and my hope is to continue on with my learning. Thank you, Le Cordon Bleu Paris, for your passion in cuisine and for your expertise in teaching. This experience will be a part of me forever.
Getting my certificate

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 27

Wednesday Day 27

Worn little to no makeup so points aren't deducted. Carried 3 bags with me: 12 pound knife set, bag of studying papers, and purse. Looking forward to hulling things from the locker today. I'm being sarcastic. 
I'm leaning and trusting on doing my best. The recipes are still floating around in my head, like why is there cream in the sauce and thickening agent in the blanquette de veau (veal stew). I'm on metro now.
Our team listened to Eye of the Tiger Rocky theme outside of the practical room. I was the last one to enter, so the Chef drew out my chip, the last in the envelope. Sure enough, veal stew. I walked to my station, apparently not fully knowing where I was supposed to be. A team member moved my carving board over, another team member said that I'm not there, that she was in fact there. So first off, confusion. It was a station I had not cooked on. Different burners, different knobs, and different oven. I was frustrated when I realized that the knobs to my burners had no numbers, no heat settings because they have been rubbed off. The numbers usually goes from 1 to 6. 1 being the lowest, 6 being the highest. 3 out of the 4 knobs were like this so I had to depend on the one and only one knob with the numbers to help guide me. Because of the inability to identify the heat settings on the burners, I let my stew sit there for at least 20 minutes without boiling. You see, it's supposed to boil first, then simmer for an hour or more. The 10 glazed onions (our technical dish, one that we had to do regardless of our chosen exam dish) were looking very grim. I guess I had placed too much water in it, so 2 fell apart. I thought the most logical thing was to use a couple of pearl onions from my stew and glaze them. UNTIL, I realized I had absolutely burned them. I was unaware that my burner was so hot. Charred. Ok, so my next thought was still to add the better looking onions in with my glazed onion dish. I didn't think that the burnt ones really weren't cooked thoroughly, just burnt on the outside. Regardless, I thought I had created a solution. My 200 grams of pearl onions for my stew was ruined so instead of 200 grams, I peeled and cooked 50 grams. It was all I had time for. Stupid stove knobs without numbers. Crap practical exam. I almost cried, imagining me quitting, setting down my utensils, and leaving. I got composure somehow, and cooked my stew. 

Goofing off after the exam!

Graduation tomorrow hopefully. And awaiting any message from school that I did not pass. 
I also placed myself on waiting list for intermediate. I can't believe I want more of this stuff. 
Went to the Pantheon, Place des Vosges, home, dinner at the Le Dome du Marais restaurant, then home. I love my new friends. 
Good, no email from school.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 26

Day 26 Tuesday 

My brain hurts, I'm so confused. All of these recipes look alike. Same ingredients, similar techniques that are close enough to confuse me. 
At the last demo today, we had champagne. Afterwards, we went to the same classmates house that we were at last night. We had purchased a chicken to practice dressing it and trussing it. Another classmate brought Dom Perignon 2002, so it was like a champagne and chicken party. Funny thing is that the group, myself included, had brought (and to replace) the Cokes we drank the previous night. Cokes vs Dom. Winner obvious. 

Chicken and Anna in Background

I came home and after lugging my knife set around Paris, I cleaned and sharpened my knives. Then I made a video and post it like I had nothing else to do. So even after sitting down and studying, I am still confused and I seriously need more time. I'll have to wake up early tomorrow morning before the practical and study more. My brain hurts. I'm sure I already said that. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 25

Day 25 Monday

We have our last practical today! At points I think to myself I love this so much and then there're moments in time I think when will this be over. We made a duck with orange sauce today. The sauce is sweet-and-sour, and was delicious with the duck. The orange peels almost tasted candied. The breast, huge. I tried to make the skin crispy because chef likes it that way. So do I. 

Chef's Duck with Orange Sauce

Afterwords we went to classmates apartment to go over the dishes for the practical exam. We ordered Dominoes pizza. It was still very French. We ordered the three cheese pizza which included camembert, goat, and blue cheese. Combinations I've not ever had on pizza. My international friends included one from Russia, one from Lebanon, one from Chili, one from Canada, one from Greece, and yours truly U.S. Minimal requirement to be there, two languages. Just kidding, had I known just English, they still would have included me.

I found out I passed my written exam today!
Now off to study the practical exam!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 24

Day 24 Saturday

Saturday classes, well, the metro is unusually empty at 7:30AM. Teamed up with a classmate of mine to make this enormous portion of a dish. Pasta and veal. It happens to be the same classmate who is the other assistant with me this week. So she was in charge with making the pasta. I blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped the tomatoes for the sauce. We made an excellent team, but I am unsure if Chef deducted points from my grade. Hope not. He was positive with my dish. Pasta cooked well, so was the veal. My tomatoes were not cooked enough, again. That's the trend to my vegetables. I was worried about my over cooked pasta, but he said it was good. 

Chef's Pasta
Chef's Veal


Went to a chocolate store (Belgium chocolate) and ate too much for/at lunch. Then went to Luxembourg gardens and jogged a little. 
Purchased boudin noir, boudin blanc, goose rillettes from Gilles Verot (a nearby charcuterie shop with lines of people always). The person selling me the products told me to speak as much French as I should have been there, it was embarrassing. And, she happened to speak perfect English. I don't know why she would want me to struggle like that. I also got a baguette nearby. Made me feel so French.
Ok, can't study at all tonight. Will have to be full speed tomorrow. Practical exam coming up.
Hilarious. Had a nightmare last night that my scale broke. I was devastated in my dream. haha.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 23

Day 23 Friday

"The excitement is absolutely over" was exactly what I thought today when I woke up. Was not in the mood to clean and fillet a sea bream at 8:30 am. Then take a written exam I wasn't ready for. But, I had to do this anyways. The practical. Ha. That was a sarcastic ha. Finished late (the whole class did). I can't discuss what happened, but it wasn't a positive one. 

Chef's Sea Bream and Fennel

Had a break over lunch to cram for the exam. I never was one to say, "I can't study anymore, if I don't know it by now..." My best retention is in cramming right before the test. Before then, however, there was a demo. 
Written exam. Not as terrible as I thought. Some absurd questions, like any test. Will keep you posted, when I get posted. Crossing my fingers for a passing grade.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 22

Day 22 Thursday 

Worn smack out. Made fish terrine today. Odd, but it reminds me of Chinese fish balls. A little fluffier though. Chef was disappointed that we all under seasoned our terrines. My sauce was good however. 

Chef's Fish Terrine with Beurre Blanc

Had a break today so I studied. But took naps too. Was afraid I was getting sick again. 
Went back to school for a demo. I walked there instead of taking the metro because I have not exercised in so long.
So much work. So exhausting. I just want to pass. 
Tomorrow morning fish filleting. Sea bream. Remind you, I'm still the assistant this week. I want to sleep for a whole day when I get home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 21

Day 21 Wednesday

My fat jeans are shrinking and turning into skinny jeans, and it hurts. Doggone pastries that the pastry students make keep me in trouble. First thing this morning, a practical. Chicken again. This time not trussed, but separated into bone in and bone less parts, sautéed and braised. Chef said my vegetables had too much oil, and they fell after placing them in a special mold (for looks, you know). Thigh meat was cooked well, but the breasts were overcooked. The tomatoes were also undercooked. The french and their vegetables, they love it mushy. They call the American al dente vegetables "hospital food." So opposite. Yes, lesson learned. Breasts cook faster than thighs. 

Chef's Chicken with Italian Vegetables
My Chicken

Afterwards we had a demonstration, then a technique class. They let us out early tonight. Well, earlier than usual, so I got home at 8pm. Still a 12 hour day. I usually get home around 10:15pm. As worried as I am about Friday's exam, I have got to rest. Woke up with another sore throat today. Not resting and not drinking enough fluids during the day, I think. So inconvenient to use the restroom. 
Oh, yes. Found out about our practical exam. Will have one out of 10 dishes. Will stand in front of the ingredients placed in front at the station. We have 2.5 hours to complete the task. Points deducted if late. Jury of retired chefs in Paris will taste and score us. Mandatory glazing of 10 pearl onions. This practical exam will count 45% of our grade. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 20

Day 20 Tuesday 

I think I'm getting used to the smell of my fingers, because certainly they have not just neutralized on their own. We just had a demo this morning, and had a five hour break, and I'm so grateful because I study get some. Although, I could have studied more, and harder. We made pork with Dauphine potatoes. My meat was so cold, but I told the chef about it and he didn't seem to care. He really enjoyed my Dauphine potatoes, but he was the one who helped me make them. 

Chef's Pork with Dauphine Potatoes
My Pork 

I think, in general, I do a lot better when I have time to look over the demo notes. I don't have to much time to study anymore this week. I'm really concerned. 
I raided a tray of refrigerated macarons in the sous sol kitchen. Didn't mean to eat 5. Really. 
I fabreze my hair these days. Betcha you didn't know that. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 19

Day 19 Monday 

I made duckling with turnips today. I’m learning to turn any vegetables, today turnips. Sear the duck more for crispy skin, says Chef. Remove ends of the breast fillet on plating for better appearance. Remember to pierce the side of wing to see if juices are clear if done. Better to have cooked vegetables a little longer. I still have plating issues. Add dimension with height. Turnips and onion had good flavor. Onions could have cooked a little more. Well done, says Chef. 

Chef's Duckling and Turnip
My duckling and turnip

Was at Starbucks during my break to study. I'm so fooding. I can't believe I'm studying food. Love this. 
My high lasted a short while. 
The demo lasted past time, which then my classmate and I had to rush to get our ingredients for the practical. We are assistants this week so we have to get the ingredients and prepare for the practicals, and clean afterwards. I made beef stroganoff. Not the one like the states. Paprika sauce. My sauce, too liquid. My meat need to be sliced more batonnet, thicker, and cooked more. Learned about etuver cooking.

Chef's Stroganoff
My Stroganoff

I received a nice compliment from Chef however. He said my brunoise was perfect. I was proud of that for a moment, then I forgot things, like adding cream to the sauce, or wondering why I was just standing there.

Brunoise zucchini and carrots of 1-2mm cubes compared to  rice.
I wish I had more time to study for these exams. There is no time. I thought I had advantages. I took French for five years. I love food. I have a masters degree. This course is kicking my tail. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 17 and 18

Friday day 17

Sore throat but thankfully an easy day. Class in hygiene and food safety in am, then came home and slept. Then went back to school. Ate about everything in site trying to make myself feel better. It's not working. Need rest for tomorrow's sautéed veal. 

Saturday Day 18

Cotes de veau grand-mere (sautéed veal chops, "grand-mere" style garnish with glazed onions, mushrooms and lardons) is what we prepared today. Not much was really said about my veal, but jus was too watery. I had a tough time getting the oil out so to not be too oily was a score for me.  

Chef's Veal

My classmate said that she has noticed that I was getting confident in the kitchen, and I really am feeling that way more and more, even though I'm still slow. I've noticed that my potatoes are turned a little better, sometimes 6 sides instead of 7, but hey, I have to pick my battles.  We had a 3 hour break so I went to Starbucks, and looked over some French vocabulary terms, as well as take a little nap with my head resting against a wall. Tomorrow is our last Sunday before our written exam, so it will be all about studying. Somewhat heartbreaking to be in Paris and studying. 

No I didn't, yes I did.

My food cravings were really wild today.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 16

Thursday Day 16

Woke up with s scratchy throat, so started taking vitamin C.
Made it through the first demonstration, and struggled through the first practical. We also had a fire drilling which I had just been handling the veal, so walked out of the building with my palms up. 
For some odd reason, my dish turned out really well. We prepared traditional veal stew (blanquette de veau a l'ancienne). My sauce had good consistency. My rice could have been cooked a little longer (chef said that he prefers the way I cooked them). You should have seen chef bite off half of a grain of rice, and inspect the center. And my veal was tender. The only negative was that he told me to be more center in my plating. AND, I was not the last one to finish. When I finished the practical, I ran out the school, without my coat, to the pharmacy to buy throat lozenges and aspirin with vitamin C.

Chef's Veal

For our second practical we grilled tenderloin with diagonal crossed grill lines. I botched up my béarnaise sauce, so chef helped me make another batch. The formal name of the dish is grilled tournedos with béarnaise sauce, potatoes "pont neuf."

It's the Chef's, not mine
Interpreter asked if I was ok. Chef asked if I was ok. I must have looked like death. Chef supplied me with thyme and honey for a home remedy. It works! Seep the thyme sprig in boiling/hot water. Then add honey.
Going to bed now.