Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thank you Visitors

Just a quick update on my blog statistics:

People from 26 countries have checked out my blog. France, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands make up the majority of my international audience. Thank you!

80% of the visits came from the US, from 39 different states! If you know someone in these states, please ask them to visit, I think getting visits from all 51 would be kinda cool - New Hampshire, Indiana, Utah, Missouri, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska or Hawaii. Maryland, Virginia and DC make up most of my visitors, but New York and California aren't far behind. People in West Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania check me out too.

To comment on my blog, please click the headline, and underneath the posting, fill in the comments area, no need to sign in, be anonymous if you like!

Friday, October 30, 2009

At last - my first guest blogger - My mom!

Here is what my mom wrote about her visit this summer, I didn't change a thing, except add some of our photos. The two month delay is completely my fault!
"Please come, please come," she said in June. So I made my reservation in late June for mid-August. It was a bargain on United at less that $600. Looked so far in the future but time does fly when you are 66 and my departure date was suddenly here. I printed my boarding pass and noticed that I was upgraded to economy plus…as I walked through the gate and the agent scanned my boarding pass a red light appeared and I thought…
Oh, no…I am here on the wrong day or the wrong gate. She handed me another pass and told me to go ahead. Well, after I boarded the plane I was directed to business class…champagne, a tasty meal, dessert and French wine. Because of the comfortable accommodations I was able to relax and take a long nap before landing. This is going to be a great trip.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pastry Prom

Last night, we had Pastry Prom (well, actually our class dinner for the semester) at Le Petit Bordelaise, a great small restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. Slow start, with no champagne, water or cocktails served until we sat down for dinner almost an hour after our arrival, it was awkward to have cocktail hour without any drinks! Worth the wait, because the champagne was great with little choux paste and cheese dollops called gougeres. Then a roll of smoked salmon with beet sauce - maybe some horseradish in the sauce, which is amazing because I can't find it anywhere in Paris. Paired with a delicious white wine, the next dish was porcini mushrooms with demi-glaze and a mushroom-based ice cream mixture - I could have eaten just that dish and been happy. Next, a fish dish on risotto (soaked in butter), then pheasant with cabbage and an adorable heart shaped biscuit. Dessert followed - a poached pear with caramel and tiny ice cream cone filled with tonka (like vanilla, but illegal in the US) flavored whipped cream.

It was a great evening, Chef JJ joined our table and the French was flowing almost as fast as the wine! We did a little photo shoot a les japanaises to round off the evening. As we left for the night, with a great wine-induced flush, JJ kissed all of us goodbye, and some of the lucky ones (including me) received multiple farewell kisses!

It was one of those nights that we didn't want to end, so we headed out for a night cap, but as Paris closes down on Monday nights, there wasn't much to find, so four of us came back to my apartment for a slumber party - it is difficult to explain teenage girl antics to people from other countries - Ouiji Board, Light as a Feather, etc. They are also fascinated with American celebrity magazines - Us, People, Star. I always think they are going to be interested with my issues of Food and Wine or Gourmet, but I guess Jennifer Anniston's latest breakup and Jessica Simpson's dog heartbreak are more interesting reads?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A classmate's blog

Aicha - one of my classmates, posted a photo of me in her blog this week. Her website is adorable - you should check it out.

She is in patisserie and cuisine, so she is much busier than me!

My favorite Aicha line "Ah Sarah, you are so Americaine!" She is from Angola, lived in Portugal, Belgium and Brazil, so I really have no comeback but to say, "Oh Aicha, you are so International!" And she laughs in a great way.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

French Books

I was stalking a few people on twitter and checking out their websites, and came across a mention of the French buying so many copies of their president's least favorite novel, that it streaked to the best seller list!

Article here (thanks to Antof9)

I am not ever going to get political here, but I wonder what would happen to a book's Amazon ranking if Obama said he hated it.

Speaking of books, any recommendations? I'd like something French-related, maybe history or biography. Plowed through Three Musketeers (in English, of course), loved the Count of Monte Cristo. Done with Madame Bovary - that slut. Tale of Two Cities, bored with the London parts. Les Miserables - annoyed with that little Minette character. Working on the Hunchback, but I think I need a hotter main character to keep my interest. Maybe the French need a trashy Danielle Steele version of historical fiction - like The Other Boleyn Girl and the Tudors - I can read anything about Henry VIII while picturing Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Books about cooks' lives are some of my favorites these days. Yes, I read Julie and Julia, My Life in France, Heat, The Omnivore's Dilemna, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and a few by Anthony Bourdain. The Perfectionist was a crazy good book about a French chef who committed suicide because a journalist started a rumor that he might lose one of his three Michelin stars, so sad and yet so French.

I loved "The Beautiful Fall" about Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld's intertwined lives and fashion. Thanks to Shelley from Basic Pastry for that recommendation.

Don't forget to use my Amazon link if you are buying any fall reading - August was a slow month. Get back to the books - and straightening irons, and CDs, and baby toys, and flipflops. If I don't thank you for your purchase, it is because Amazon doesn't tell me who bought what. Your privacy is protected, lucky for you, because we all know I can't keep a secret!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Interesting People I meet

The dishwasher heard I was from DC, and wanted to know if I saw George Bush - funny, I never did. But I did try to explain that one of Barack Obama's daughters goes to school near where I lived. He didn't seem that impressed, but the French rarely are!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How to Find Me

Interesting search tip from my mom:

Google "sarah cheap wine paris blog cordon bleu" and there I am, at number 1!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gourmet Magazine?

Just when I really needed it, Gourmet is done! I just started subscribing this year and I have read those issues over and over - well, it is Gourmet or a 6-month old issue of The Economist. I remember when I lived at home and my mom saved every issue. Luckily, she still has them, and when I have a safe place to store them, I hope they will be mine!

I left my camera at school - hopefully (eek!), so I don't have any new photos, but my last few desserts have not exactly been blog-worthy. The milk chocolates were OK, the dark chocolates were a disaster and the Heavenly Chocolate Cake was from Hell.

Heavenly Chocolate is great, when made by an experienced chef. When made by me for the first time, it is a mix of overwhipped chocolate mousse, more like chocolately butter, and thick discs of milk chocolate, that Chef D noted in our next class, might have needed a fireman's axe to cut. Isn't he funny? For some reason, he loves singling my mistakes out in front of the class.

The frustrating part? He wasn't even the chef directing the practical - he just zoomed in, in his perfectly clean whites, and grabbed some chocolate off my tray. He might be a bigger chocoholic than me! As my friend Nancy always reminds me, "No good deed goes unpunished." But, I never listen to her advice or anyone else's, and as a gesture of international goodwill and peace, I handed him some extra little circles of chocolate, that I wasn't going to use, he took one bite, told me they were 5 times too thick, even for an American! Of course, he ate them anyway.

As I took a photo of the trashcan, where my cake belonged, he laughed. For some unknown reason, the dishwasher wanted the thing, I hope I didn't poison his family.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sights and Smells of Paris

My least favorite smell is gone - unwashed bellybutton in the Paris Metro, I think the cold weather is keeping that one under wraps, thankfully.

Favorites: I have visited two temporary gourmet markets recently, one with the DC girls and one with the LCB girls (Le Cordon Bleu) last Friday afternoon. The regional producers come for a few days, set up booths and sell the results of their labor. It is great excuse for an impromptu picnic - escargots, oysters, wine, bread, crazy good cheese, fois gras, and these addictive pickled garlic cloves. I don't know how they do the garlic, but the vendor from Provence seemed like he was looking for a wife from our group as he showed us his other wares and photos of his lavender farm. He didn't have many teeth left, but he was cute otherwise! I am not sure that is a great plug for the health benefits of garlic.

The DC girls after our picnic on the Seine

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