Monday, January 23, 2012


It's insane to think that just 5 months ago I was still in Yssingeaux, anticipating my arrival in Paris and my internship. And now in only a few months I will be leaving Paris, ending my year abroad, and returning to the states and back to real life! Here is one of the email's I wrote to my family wrapping up the last few weeks of my pastry program and describing my excitement for my internship. 
Bon Jour!

So I just finished my last week of labs and now we are moving into review and final exams. Here's hoping it all goes well! I have finally secured my internship at Pain de Sucre where I will start on the September 15th. Very exciting stuff. Of course I am terrified. Firstly, I return from California where I'll be visiting my wonderful sister and her beautiful family to have some key bonding time the day before I start my internship. Can you say, jet lag? But hopefully I'll be able to time my sleeping on the flight and train so that I won't be in a complete zombie state. Second, I am going to be surrounded by Parisians speaking french and starting a new job where I have absolutely no idea what is going on. I hate the first few weeks at a new job anyway and I'm sure that adding a nice dose of lost in translation won't make it any easier. I have accepted that the first month will probably involve a lot of confusion, feelings of stupidity, and tears, but it's all a part of life in the culinary world. C'est la vie. I'm going to have to come up with a positive mantra. But I'm sure that by the time I leave I'll be sad to go, and hope that I will make some deep connections with my fellow coworkers. 
I have also found an apartment in Paris after many long hours of searching. Nothing in France is all that efficient and so looking for an apartment may have started as a fun little adventure but it quickly moved into a realm of annoyance and frustration. Paris is in no way cheap and so while I may not always play well with others I decided that having a roommate was essentially unavoidable. So Christy, my friend from Indonesia, and I will be living together for five months while I spend the last two months in our apartment alone. Everyone here is convinced we will kill each other but I am sure that as long as I set down, I mean we set down, some house rules things so be just fine. Plus we have completely different work schedules and so we will mostly be two ships passing in the night. Our apartment is a charming 1 bedroom with a separate living room that I will be converting into my bedroom. Nothing a privacy curtain and bed won't fix. It's much better than any of the one bedrooms I was considering and is only a 20 minute walk from my pastry shop. It's in the eleventh arrondissement on the corner of tree lined boulevard and avenue in a newly popular part of town. Apparently all the hipster kids hang out in this section and it's art, music, and chill bar scene has blossomed within the last few years. It snuggles right up against the Marais which is a very popular area but is much less expensive as far as rent goes. 

I cannot believe that I only have two more weeks here in Yssingeaux. I am happy that most of my close friends will be coming with me to Paris and so it won't be too hard to say goodbye. I will definitely appreciate an atmosphere with a bit more life in it than this po-dunk little town. Paris will be quite the 180. I know I will miss Chef Baccon and some of my friends but I am fairly certain that we will end up visiting each other while we are still in France. 
I have attached some pictures of the last three weeks of production. We had a week of viennoiserie with Chef Baccon's husband, Mr. Chef Baccon, who was absolutely lovely! They really are a power couple and are both extremely talented chefs. It doesn't hurt that they are adorable, too. We made a bunch of beautiful breads with him including some perfectly flaky croissants. My favorite were the croissant purses with passionfruit pastry cream inside. I ate about four of them throughout the day and continued to eat the leftovers the entire week. Sugar sculpting was a bit more of a challenge though I found it to be quite fun. It's hot stuff and you have to wear dishwashing rubber gloves in order to work with the molten sugar. Luckily a past of manual labor mixed with a genetic predisposition towards dry creepy lizard hands made me ideal for the job and I was one of the only ones to come out without blisters on my fingers. We had to make a double cake stand and while I find sugar sculpture (especially in the form of cake stands) to be a little kitsch I still enjoyed it and I can see myself making sugar flowers and ribbons in the future. The ribbons were especially beautiful. 

Our last week was entremets part two, which again is just a fancy word for cakes. We made a modern black forest cake with had chocolate mousse and sour cherry coulis filling on top of a brownie base, lauraget which had a cake base similar to angel food and was topped with mango and apricot mousse with a caramelized apricot center and the whole thing was coated in a chocolate hazelnut glacage. Then we had the fraisier moderne which was by far my favorite. Not only did I score the highest in the class on this cake because of my beautiful chocolate flower (what can I say, I'm gifted) but I also found it to be the tastiest. It had a pistachio financier base, vanilla bavarian cream and a center of raspberry cream mousse and strawberry coulis. There was also a framboiser modern which was very similar to the fraisier in that it had vanilla bavarian cream and a raspberry cream mousse center, but it had a rum cake bottom and was coated in a pink glacage. We also made a coffee charlotte with a layer of vanilla bavarian cream and layer of coffee bavarian cream topped with a mountain of milk chocolate curls. And finally we made a traditional opera cake. I especially enjoyed this because we had to trim the edges and the coffee buttercream, coffee soaked cake, and ganache made for a perfect breakfast snack. 

Opera Entremet

Raspberry, Strawberry, Pistachio Entremet 
with a Chocolate flower and Chocolate Decor

Cafe and Chocolat Charlotte with Milk Chocolate Curls

Foret Noir (Black Forest Cake) Moderne

I have definitely learned a lot and I am anxious to continue expanding my culinary mind at my internship. As scary as it may be for the first few days, or month, I know it is going to be an incredible opportunity and I hope that they will trust me enough to let me get my hands dirty. 

I miss you all and hope you enjoy looking at these photos (I know I enjoyed eating the cakes). 

Much love!

Oh what a cruel mistress reality can be! And naivete and youth are so often prime victims to such truths. All the same, optimism and excitement are wonderful states of being and I hope that, though I certainly was feeling negative and pessimistic while I was in the midst of it, I can be able to return to such states prior to my other future endeavors. C'est la vie! 

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