Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paris, Day 2:   We headed down to the Metro to meet up with Chef Marthe.  This is the beautiful front door of her apartment.  We went up a winding staircase to meet her and then started out to the market to pick up the items we needed for our class on French food.
This outside market was big and bustling with people.  The smells, colors and sights were something to behold!  I've never seen such an array of vegetables and fruits and meats (even ducks with their heads still attached.)
The food booths were beautifully displayed, also.  I loved these cascading purple and green grapes.  I had a hard time not sampling them.
Chef Marthe picking out some good zucchini to make our salad with. 
We got to sample these tomatoes.....YUM!  As good as Utah tomatoes in August.
France, famous for its French bread---didn't disappoint!  Only thing is, French people do not ever eat their bread with butter.  It's rude to even ask.  One of the reasons we didn't see any fat French men or women.
Back to Chef Marthe's where she had a very modest setting for her cooking lesson.  That shining star is me taking a picture with the flash on.  Someday I'll learn to take pictures correctly.  HA!
Another shot of her apartment.  Notice the wooden bars under the table?  They were the chairs we sat upon when dining.  How French!  They make the most of their small apartment space.
Chef Drew using the mandolin to thinly slice the zucchini for the salad.  The other ingredients were lots of lemon juice, olive oil, greek olives, shallots, cherry tomatoes, topped with pine nuts and goat cheese.  This salad had to "cook" and be stirred every half hour for a couple of hours before it was ready.  We found out later that "cooked" meant marinated.
Chef Marthe showing us the proper way to cut the zucchini so it was "striped."  She was delightful as she worked telling us stories of her television show where she demonstrated how to cook.  Her specialty is macaroons, which are completely different than the coconut version we are used to.  There I am again in the mirror, not using the flash this time!  Much better.
Chef Marthe letting Chef Drew use her expensive, gorgeous stove.  From the left, Candy, Gaye, Pat and Jennifer, four of my compadres and partners in crime.
A picture of Marthe's blooming orchids with oranges in a bowl in front of the open window that opened out onto a main boulevard in Paris.
Our main course was rustic quiche lorraine.  A simple crust molded by hand, with several different French cheeses and eggs.  Delicious!
A picture of the finished salad and slice of french bread.  I ate the quiche before I thought to take a picture.
Lastly, but not least....the piece d' resistance....famous French Madeleines.  These were unbelievably tender and fragrant and lemony, and spongy.....just the way they were suppose to be.  Nothing quite like the taste of these marvelous cookie shaped sponge cakes.
After about three hours with Chef Marthe and full tummies, we reluctantly left and headed back to our hotel.  I took this picture of the outside of her building.  What a fantastic day!  The reason we came to France, after all, as a culinary group.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Viva La France!

We arrived in Paris, France Thursday morning, September 15, 2011.  Going through the streets to get to our hotel this is the first thing I saw with French writing on it, so I took a picture!  It appeared to be a shop of some sort that was named after St. Julien the Poor from a famous 13th century Greek Orthodox Church in the area. 
As we got closer to our hotel, I spotted this building which turned out to be one of the most architecturally  perfect and beautiful buildings in Paris, the Paris Opera House.  How grand that must be to attend an opera there!
Since we hadn't had much to eat on the plane and after arriving and settling in at our hotel, we stopped by this small patisserie and had a freshly baked divine cheese quiche, and I tried a delicious carbonated orange drink in a cute round bottle called "Orangina."  YUM!
This is the street, Rue Amelie, where the Hotel D'Eiffel was, and our leader, Chef Drew leading us to see the Eiffel Tower which wasn't very far away.  All the streets angled down and because there are no homes in Paris proper, cars were parked all along the street, sometimes so close they touched the car in front and back of them.
This was the first view of the Eiffel Tower as we walked toward it.  It was at this moment I became very excited because I had no idea how gigantic a structure it was.  Pictures don't do it justice.
We were almost to the grounds the tower stands on, and it just kept getting taller and taller....
Approaching the entrance I think my mouth must have been hanging open!
Notice the size of the people way in the distance and you can get some idea of how gigantic it truly is.
When I see this picture I still get with Chef Drew in front of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.  Notice how the trees along the walkway are all "squared" off, some kind of topiary I've never seen in this shape before.
Oh My God!  And to think the French people were thinking of taking this beauty down after the World's Exhibition in 1889, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.  That would have been a horrible thing!  Luckily they decided to keep it.
Looking upward from the bottom of the tower I got dizzy and had to hurry and take the shot.  It is way, way, way up there. 
I liked this view of the part of the arch support which again shows how gargantuan it is.  Also, as we walked through it and towards the other areas in the park we noticed a real presence of French soldiers in uniforms holding AK-47's.  The security is very tight at most places tourists visit in France.  A lot more so than in the U.S.
Strolling along the bridge over the River Seine that leads to the other end of the Eiffel Tower grounds I noticed how large a river it is.  They have boats that you can slowly cruise along enjoying dinner and drinks at night on the river, which would have been beautiful because Paris is lit up at night, but we never got around to it.  Maybe another trip?
We did, however, stop at a creperie stand and decided we'd have a chocolate and banana crepe for dinner that first night.  After we finished eating, it started to rain and voila!  There were three or four people selling umbrellas all around us.  We each bought one and strolled slowly home.  It was the only time it rained while we were in France.  The umbrellas were basic black with a white stencil of the Eiffel Tower on appropriate!
This is the other end of the Eiffel Tower grounds where I was lucky enough to catch the big gun spouts that erupt in beautiful fountains, lit up in color at night.  There are many, many of these in the area and they go off at different times.  Lovely.
I just liked this picture of a male statue from the back with the Eiffel Tower appearing to come out of his head.  Kind of phallic, but rather artistic, too, I think!
This was the first of two identical museums, one filled with art, the other with humans.  Really!  We didn't go in as we were on a time schedule, but there is a statue on the other museum, The Museum of Man, that warned of going inside.  Apparently they have really old stuffed human bodies from who knows when, but I'm sure it was from a long time ago.  Interesting, but for another visit, I suppose.
End of first day.