Thursday, 15 December 2011

Done here!

Well well, it all went so fast. Four and a half intensive weeks culminate in this.

Proof that I graduated
We said goodbye to the chefs and to some nice friends we made during the course. As Chef Stril, it's the intensive course, people create bonds pretty quickly. Some people are continuing their education in Intermediate Cuisine in January, maybe half of our course, and others are going back home to their beloved ones. So, there was a mix of emotions in the graduation ceremony. Happiness from the fact that all of us graduated, sadness to know that we won't be seeing each other maybe never again. Lots of goodbye hugs, kisses, some people crying, lots of "I'll add you on Facebook", lots of promises to keep in touch and a nice graduation buffet.

I think I did pretty well in the exam and scored 35.14 in possible 45, but it's cuisine and it's a very subjective thing to evaluate and grade. In total, I got 72.62 out of 100. The 5th best got 73 so I wasn't that far! Anyway, I'm happy I've managed to complete the course and I learned a lot of stuff that I hope to use at home. I certainly have a lot of memories that I will continue to cherish throughout my life.

Erdem, Chef Stril, me and my too long shirt or too short pullover
It's over now and I'll be heading back home on next Monday. I'll take the rest of the days to visit Paris and relax. When I get home, I'll try to write all those posts in backlog. 

The big question now is: will I do Intermediate in 2012? Well, we'll have to wait and see! I surely wish I could do Intermediate Cuisine in January like some of the guys, but I have to go back to my regular job and my regular life.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Written exam done!

Hello there,

Had my written exam yesterday and next wednesday I'll have the practical. One part done, one left! It seems like time has flied by. I haven't had the energy to update this blog as much as I want but I have a backlog of things that I want to write about. Maybe after school is finished? :)

I'll leave with a video from our first weeks, where Alex is "helping" Chef Stril making an omelette in one of our demonstrations. It was a fun moment!

Thanks to Alla for getting everything on video! Now, I'm off to enjoy my only weekend off! Cya!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Restaurants in Paris

With all this intensive schedule I haven't really had the time to visit as many restaurants as I would like but I've been to a few good ones and I would like to highlight three.

The first restaurant I would like to talk about was a tip from Alex, which apparently goes there every time he comes to Paris, is the le Relais de L'Entrecôte - a restaurant in the fancy St Germain side of Paris (there are others Relais de L'Entrecôte around Paris) which only serves one dish: Steak with Pommes Frittes Alumette and their secret green sauce.

I went with the usual gang, Diane, Alex and Erdem and I had the pleasure of having my life companion and love Katharina visiting me, so she hopped along. The restaurant only offers you a choice of how you would like your meat, and after a discussion with the waiter in which I tried to get a medium-rare steak - which she replied to with "No. Rare or medium?" - I ended up ordering the meat sinon (rare) and was pretty happy with the result. I was so happy, that I forgot to take a picture of the dish! The only thing you're seeing in picture is the nice salad with nuts and a mustard vinaigrette that's served as entrée, sorry! The steak is served in two times, you get half of it first with a dose of potatoes and lots of green sauce (which was yummy btw!) and after you ate all that delicious steak they come to you with the other half and another portion of fries and sauce. So awesome. To finish the dinner we ate the house's profiteroles with hazelnut ice-cream inside and chocolate sauce on top. To die for.

This week, we went to another restaurant which was a tip from one of the girls from the school staff. The restaurant is also in the 7th and is called Café Constant and is owned by Christian Constant, a famous french chef, which also owns other two restaurants in the same street (they're actually literally adjacent to each other). Oh my, what a feast we had. The price was nothing out of this world (11€ for entrées, 16€ for the main dish and 7€ for the dessert) and the food was really, really good. Apparently it's a restaurant that's very popular with locals. The interior couldn't be more modest, it looks like the regular parisian café in the corner, but the food was delicious. I'll leave you with the pictures of the dishes and two happy customers (Alex and Erdem).

Click on picture to enlarge
Yesterday, Alex and I decided we were too tired to go home and study. Instead, we thought we deserved a reward for all our hard word so we took ourselves to a restaurant pretty close to school that I've had my sight on for a while. It was a really really nice restaurant with great food and even nicer staff! It's called Je thé... me and they consider themselves to be a Restaurant du Terroir. No pictures, but we ate the house's Terrine de Foie Gras de Canard, Veloutté de Chataignês as entrées, for the main dish we had Un Mulard, Une Orange (basically Canard à L'Orange) and Terre et Mer de St Jacques (scallops in a bed of white bean purée) and to finish off a cheese plate and a Tarte Tatin. To help the food slide down our throats we had a delicious wine from the Languedoc region which unfortunately I can't remember the name. The cherry on top of this dinner was getting to visit the TINY SMALL KITCHEN of the restaurant, which is way smaller than my kitchen back home. The chef, who cooks alone, manages to do around 50 covers/seats per night. We were amazed. We had a nice chat with him about the school and the things we are learning, about how's working in a professional kitchen and other things food nerds talk about. At the last moment, I found out that the waiter was portuguese also and a previous portuguese Le Cordon Bleu student had worked in that restaurant's kitchen also! Small world :)

Now, time to study some more... written exam is tomorrow. Ciao!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Basic Cuisine Intensive Nov-Dec 2011

Oh hi, here's a picture of all of us:

Class of Basic Cuisine Intensive Nov-Dec 2011 and Chef Bruno Stril
Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A bit of a rough day

Today was a bit of a rough day. I woke up, barely had time to eat breakfast since I iron the uniform every morning (note to myself: why don't you do it at night?), and when I arrived at school I realized that my electronic scale had disappeared. Unfortunately, there's a lot of theft going on in school so you shouldn't forget your things left behind. Went to the room where we had our practical the day before but the scale wasn't there. At lunch time, came home and did a search for the missing scale but no luck. "Oh well" - I thought - "it's the second time this happens, guess I'll have to buy a new one.". Back to school, asked once again in the reception if they had any scales on their Lost And Found. Guess what? The second scale that I lost wasn't there but the first one that I had lost somehow managed to reappear after two weeks! When we had practical my other scale showed up, so now I have two scales - double the fun. Not.

It quite pisses me off the amount of theft that we hear that's going on at school. You would expect that people who have more than 8000 EUR to "splurge" on a cooking course would go around stealing, but unfortunately it happens a lot. Have heard some rumors that in the girls lockers someone came in with a wire clipper and raided one girls lockers. Not sure if it's a myth, but it sure is creepy. The most popular things to disappear are, of course, our knife kits. They're a set of around 10 Wusthof Knives and several other kitchen utensils that is worth around 750 EUR totally. So, they make a nice christmas present for someone back at home. Advice to future Le Cordon Bleu students: never leave your knife bags unattended. You may get lucky and a nice fellow will find it and leave it in the reception, but most probably not.

Anyway, my day started a bit off but it got quite okay after I got my two scales back. That was until I had to make this in practical:

Blanquette de Veau à L'Ancienne with Riz Pilaf
It's a very traditional french recipe, origins whereabouts highly discussed (Normandy, Burgundy, etc.), made with veal. It's a kind of a stew or ragout, where the meat is cooked in a aromatic broth composed of celery, carrots, onions, leek, clovers, bouquet garni and peppercorns. The meat is slowly cooked for at least an hour, since you use usually a second or third category cut - tougher cuts, and then you use the broth where the meat has cooked to make a Sauce Suprême and cook the rice in the oven. It's also served with glazed pearl onions and glazed button mushrooms (tiny tiny mushrooms that, guess what, look like a chef's jacket button). It's also one of the dishes that can come up on our practical exam!

The recipe is quite standard and it offers little difficulty. However, I got this monstrous piece of meat in practical and it took me almost ONE HOUR to trim all the cartilage, excess fat, nerves, sinew and all the other monstrous things. Even my colleagues commented that the piece of meat I got looked awful. In the mean while, the school decided to have fire alarm simulation, so we lost about 15 minutes of the time we had in practical. On other notes, the chef in practical had different methods of doing the recipe than the one in the demonstrations and wanted you to use his method. All these small things threw my mind completely off. I lost all my mental organization (or as in kitchen language, my mise) and from there on everything went bad. When I finally managed to present the plate to the chef, I was the last one to do it, I know the meat was not soft as I wanted it to be, it should have cooked for at least another 30-45 min. As usual I got remarks on lack of salt and my mushrooms were cold. I was really disappointed with what I presented, just threw it all away in the trash bin.

Just felt like going home but still had another demonstration at 15h30. Fortunately, what happened in that demo was amazing and lifted my spirits a bit! Chef Patrick Terrien delivered a show by making these following treats:

Parfait Glacé au Café, Sauce Caramel au Cognac and Tournedos Grillés with
Sauce Béarnaise with Pommes Pont-Neuf
In English those dishes would be: Frozen Coffee Parfat with a Caramel and Cognac Sauce and Grilled Tournedos with Bearnaise Sauce and Potatoes "Pont-Neuf". The sauce béarnaise was SO amazing and that meat was cooked rare and it was just heaven on earth! Do you see those plates in the pictures? Yeah, me and Alex attacked them at the end of the demo. We always get a small tasting plate in every demonstrations but we kinda nicely asked the chef it it was ok to eat to the plates that he presented, to which he replied with a "Bien sûr!". We just devoured it.

Let's hope for a better day tomorrow. À demain!