Sunday, February 27, 2011

5 for 1 Deal at the One Euro Store

Hi All!
I say this all the time, but Paris is pretty cool. Not just for its historic architecture and established buildings and sites, it also has a really sweet business center called La Défense. It’s where all the huge skyscrapers are and the very famous Grande Arch de la Défense. You’ve probably seen it before, you just never knew the name. On Thursday a few friends and I took a little walk down in La Défense, which is on the edge of Paris. It was build away from the city so as to not destroy the Paris skyline, but also because Paris used to be a marsh. This is why there is a part of the city called the Marais (that’s the part of town where I go to school, it’s a pretty swanky side), which means ‘marsh’. So the ground in Paris really is not sound enough to build huge heavy buildings.
Modern art in La Defense

Me and the Grand Arch

Maddie and Allison enjoying the view

Some nice flowers to brighten up the blog

God bless modern art. It's so weird
 We just wondered among the buildings, saw some modern art and ended on the steps of the Grande Arch just looking at our beautiful Paris. It’s moments like these that you just have to stop and think, “Wow, I am in Paris, I mean really in Paris. I live here. It is my home.”

Did you know that Paris also has a county fair? Well it does, except it’s not called that. It’s called the Salon International de l’Agriculture. Basically it was a mash up of a county fair, home and garden show, food expo with a touch of CostCo. There were cows, sheep, pigs, goats, and all manner of farm animals and the products made from these delicious animals. I tasted so many different kinds of cheese I can’t even begin to count, yogurt like I’ve never had before, caramel, chocolate mousse. I even geeked out to my friend Allison about how a milking machine works, poor girl.

I'm really excited about these sheep

We saw chicks hatch out of their shells. Pretty cool

In case you were wondering, the methods for cow milking are international

Me with a bunch of veggies

I can't even begin to  tell you how many different kinds of cheese I tried that day
 Another part of the expo was for fruit and vegetables, another for all things equestrian, then a huge part devoted to all the regions of France. Good eat’n to say the least. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all good things, even the farm smells.

At the end of the day we found ourselves at the Eiffel Tower for sunset and then went in search of a Kebab. Paris is full of Kebabs stands. A kebab, not being the thing to make on your grill on a wooden skewer, is a spick of meat rotating around and around vertically being cooked to perfection by either a heat coil or flame. I am never disappointed when I get a kebab. It’s usually served in a soft bread bun with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and a white sauce that is usually yogurt based. I usually ask for white and samurai sauce (which is spicy).

Now that is a proper kebab

Goodness, right there. Look at all that meat!
 One thing you must know about me is that I love Julia Child. She has been an inspiration to me for years. She is part of the reason I love to cook and watch cooking shows and why I have long harbored the desire to go to culinary school. So now that I am here in Paris I wanted to retrace her steps a little bit. So with a Saturday free and open for Madeline and I and Paris at our finger tips we went on a sojourn to find Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. 

Along the way we stopped off at the metro stop Trocadéro. When we reached the outside and saw a near by cemetery, Cimetière de Passy, of course we decided to go wonder around. The cemetery was opened in the early 1800’s and contains an impressive number of family crypts/ prayer houses and tombs. It also plays eternal host to some very famous people. After much searching we found the tomb of Claude Debussy and on the other side of the cemetery we found Édouard Manet, who had a very classy bust of himself to immortalize his likeness.

Claude and me just chill'n

Another friend of mine: Manet

This is one of Manet's most famous paintings

Other graves

After walking the exact wrong way out of the Vaugirard metro stop we found our way to the Cordon Bleu. It was glorious. I couldn’t help but smile like a loon. We took a few pictures from the outside, and I thought that would be all, just a quick stop. Then Madeline, being fearless, suggested that we go inside. I, being the sceptic, was very hesitant. But hey, why not, it’s worked before (see blog post: the sighting of Kate Moss). So in we went. Although it was the end of the day for them and all the students had left, a very nice woman welcomed us in and then took us on a tour of the facility. We saw all of the demonstration rooms, class rooms and kitchens. The very same where Julia Child had learned to cook. I was happy to see that she is a very celebrated patron of the school and there are a couple places in the halls that pay tribute to her contribution to the school and to the culinary world.

Me and le Cordon Bleu

Oh Julia!

The kitchen named after the tall broad

In celebration of our day, Maddie and I decided to make ourselves a French meal. We settled on making a simple Tartiflette, a potato dish with crispy lardons (cubed bacon chunks), onion, and reblochon (a cheese similar to Camembert) all topped with a healthy dose of crème fraîche. It turned out ridiculously amazing and was just as good as I had hoped it would. Tartiflette is the equivalent of French comfort food. The flavor is familiar but complex enough to keep your taste buds wondering exactly what it is tasting. I will dream about this meal. That’s how good it was.

A delicious tartiflette
Every day I am realizing that reality is much more exciting than my imagination. I get way more than I am expecting. Every day is like a 5 for 1 deal at the neighborhood One Euro Store. Some days it’s nice to just start out with a vague plan and let chance guide the rest of your day. I never expect my days to be out of the ordinary, well as ordinary as a day can be in Paris, but they always turn out to be a little extraordinary.

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