Monday, April 6, 2015

That one time I ate all the mousse in Paris...

It has been a (busy) month since two coworkers and I went on a trip to Paris. Time to recap! To say that we had a wonderful time would be an understatement. Here are some of the stats from the week:

Beignets consumed: 4
Miles walked: 97.25
Blisters earned: 4 
Bakeries visited: 25+
Public restrooms used: all of them?
Macarons tasted: countless
Glasses of orange juice downed: 7+ (apparently when you are expecting in France, the go-to beverage offering is OJ)
Vegetables consumed: <5

I only have pictures from my phone to share because of an unfortunate incident that occurred on the second day of our trip. Let's just say a flimsy paper bag + walking in a torrential downpour = a lost camera.

This is a picture from one of my morning runs around the city. I made an effort to get out and run most days... the weather cooperated for the most part and I got to see some really beautiful views. Running like this is my favorite way to see new places while traveling.

Our first stop on the trip was Profiterole Cherie where they made the little filled choux fresh to order. While we waited for our order we enjoyed espresso and house made chocolates. Our favorite was "Ma Cheri Mont-Blanc" a casis (black currant) compote inside of flaky choux, topped with chestnut ice cream, vanilla chantilly and served with a vanilla bean chestnut sauce. It was at this point on the trip (after being awake for over 24 hours) when I decided that I would be drinking coffee this week. Sorry baby Kaune, it was necessary.

Individual pastries like the ones above were very popular. Intricate domes of mousse layered with cake, filled with fruit compote and lightly glazed were EVERYWHERE. Our plan of attack: collect samples from 4-5 bakeries a day, head back to the hotel and photograph and sample them all.

Of all the treats we tried, this pastry from Pierre Herme was the one that stuck out to me the most. It was a thin layer of cake topped with a delicate rose mousse that was wrapped and decorated with shaved apples that had been soaked in rose water. Floral flavors like rose (and lilac or lavender) can go from subtle to soapy quickly, so a light hand is needed when making them into desserts. It was sublime and just the right amount of rose.

We weren't just in Paris to eat sweets. On our third day of the trip, we were lucky enough to go behind the scenes at this bakery. The owner of the bakery went to culinary school with our boss. We got to tour, watch production and have lunch with the owners, their family and some other former pastry school classmates of our boss. The lunch lasted over two hours and consisted of wonderful lasagna and more bread than I have ever consumed. Also, orange juice because when you are pregnant in Paris, everyone wants to feed you OJ. The lunch was the first savory food I consumed in a few days so it was especially good!

Speaking of savory food, there were a few meals that stood out. This avocado toast was simple and much needed after walking around all day in torrential rain.

Also of note: steak and fries at Le Relais de l'EntrecĂ´te.

At this restaurant, you are served a portion of steak (in an amazing herb-infused butter sauce) and fries. Then about a half an hour later the server brings you a second portion. On this day, my coworkers and I had taken a day off from bakery research. We spent all day walking around the city, shopping, stopping at cafes (for espresso and my many bathroom breaks...) and by the time we sat down for dinner it was late and we were starving. Needless to say I ate both my portions of steak and fries. Why don't more restaurants do this???

In between bakeries we took the time to do some tourist-y things. We went to Montmartre, Notre Dame, the museum of modern art, took a boat ride on the Seine at night, and saw the Eiffel Tower. We walked EVERYWHERE. It was a nice balance because we were eating all of the things.

Can we talk for a second about baby clothes in Paris? Shops filled with the cutest baby clothes are on every corner. I did my best to keep shopping for baby to a minimum but still came home with a few bags full of little outfits for baby Kaune.

I made it my personal goal to try as many beignets as I could on the trip. Most of my days started much like this:

Once we got home from our trip our task was to come up with ideas inspired by our trip and make them into potential products for our bakery. We made a lot of good products, my favorite being our rose mousse dome inspired by the pastry from Pierre Herme (bottom right.)

These pictures barely scratch the surface of an amazing trip! I will leave you with this picture of a macaron hamburger... just because.

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