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IMG_0566Still nearly another week to go until its officially here, but Paris has been in a festive mood for a month already.

The first hints of the season came from the grand department stores, which are decorated head to toe.

The display windows outside are full of delightful animatronic snow scenes, such as this one of shopping girls frolicking on snowy rooftops. All windows have little stairs and platforms for children to climb and get a closer look.IMG_0321

And yeah, even in France, you’ll probably cross paths with one of those ubiquitous Salvation Army Santas, too.

Inside Galleries Lafayette, there is a massive Christmas tree, glistening with Swarovski crystals, hovering underneath the store’s stunning central dome.IMG_0315

Many of the main streets are decorated with lights and crowded with shoppers. This is the Champs Elysees.

IMG_0579Lining the street are little huts, filled with all sorts of gifts and treats. Food stalls sell traditional stick-to-your-ribs sausage dishes, warming soup, hot mulled wine, and these delicious little flavored marshmallow things I haven’t gotten enough of.

You can also see in the background the Roue de Paris, which is French for Gigantic Transportable Ferris Wheel. Apparently it was created for the Millennium celebrations in Paris, and then disassembled and reinstalled in various cities all around the world. So, if you came to Paris some time in the last decade and thought to yourself, “I don’t remember seeing a giant ferris wheel there!!!” then it’s probably because it really wasn’t there. It’s back now though, and fits right in among the Christmas festivities.

We’ve even gotten into the Christmas spirit a bit at school. In our Charcouterie class last week, we made terrines (great for feeding a crowd), foie gras (the French can’t celebrate Christmas without it), and a festive duck stuffed with cherries (a perfect main course for a holiday meal).

In Pastry, we made yule logs.

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It’s fun to see how differently everyone decorated theirs! Although, most of my classmates decided to keep it relatively simple, but I went all out with the traditional log shape, meringue mushrooms and a little marzipan holly 🙂

in other Ferrandi news, restaurant service (again) this week…i got to wrestle with these two guys:IMG_0677

they are quite large and really heavy. We thought they’d take about an hour to cook, but in actuality I’m not sure they’ll ever be done. We put them in at 8am this morning (planning to have them in time for the lunch service at noon), but they weren’t ready. And they STILL weren’t ready when we were all cleaned up and ready to leave, so we left them in the oven and they’re continuing to cook as I type this. Fingers crossed they’re finished in the morning, or I don’t know what we’ll do.

Since we had no octopus, we had to do some substitutions, so we made this instead:

IMG_0681It’s fish ceviche’d in lime juice, layered with roasted red peppers, and served with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic, shallots, and some dehyrated black olives.

Also, if you’re interested, it’s been a big news week for Ferrandi! A film crew came to our class back in October to film us, and to discuss why it is foreigners want to come to France. One of my classmates (also a novice french speaker) provided an interview. Hopefully she won’t kill me for sharing it, but I think she did a good job and pulled it off confidently. Plus it’s fun to see our class on TV 🙂

And the second bit of news, we got a review on our Restaurant service from an American food writer who also publishes regularly in many of the big culinary magazines and the New York Times. He had lots of great things to say (he said my crab balls were “stunningly beautiful”!),and overall left me feeling like I must really be getting my money’s worth out of this school!

“…the awesome and thoroughly admirable rigor of a classic French culinary education equips young chefs who train at the Ecole Ferrandi to spread their wings with real confidence, because they know how to do everything. And armed with a deep knowledge of the past, it’s easier to dare a bit of modernity and succeed. One of the huge global misapprehensions about professional cooking is that it’s all about creativity (much of this nonsense comes from the inane cooking shows that have become so popular). It’s not. Instead it’s all about a relentlessly rigorous execution of technique and ferociously exigent and ingenious sourcing…with a just pinch of creativity.”

I encourage you to read the rest 🙂 check it out here:: http://alexanderlobrano.com/blog/2012/12/8/lecole-ferrandi-tasting-new-talent-at-le-premier-and-le-28-t.html

I probably won’t get a chance to post again before Christmas, as I’ve got a late night tomorrow with a dinner service and will be catching the bus out of town on Friday. BUT i promise to keep everyone updated on my whereabouts and my Christmas in England 🙂 Hope everyone has a happy holidays!!!

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