Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dans Le Noir

So...dinner. Well, Dans Le Noir is a restaurant that means In The Black. So you eat in the black. The COMPLETE dark. No light whatsoever. When I mean no light, I mean you know how when your eyes get adjusted to darkness...well they can't get adjusted. The catch is, you waiters and waitresses are blind. So, you get there and sit in the bar, which has light. (the only people who are blind are the servers...not the bartenders and cooks) They explain the concept of the restaurant to you which is when you lose one sense, the rest are more intensified. So, you choose your menu before you go in. Your first decision is either starter+entree or entree+dinner OR starter+dinner+dessert. (it was an extra 9 euros for dessert!) Then wine, beer and soft drinks are extra also. You then have a choice of choosing off the menu or the surprise menu. Well we all felt we should go for it, so we all did the surprise menu. They tell you to choose that option because it gives you the full effect of the restaurant because you really have to use your taste buds. Then they so graciously ask if anyone has food allergies or restrictions. I said no meat. So did a few other people along with a bunch of people who said different restrictions. Anyway, our reservation was for 10 pm, but with a group of 12, people didn't show up on time and we didn't get sat til 11. They also tell u to use the bathroom before you go in to not ruin your experience. They also make you put EVERYTHING in a locker. Purse, jacket, watch (incase it has a light) cellphone...EVERYTHING! Well it was time to get seated and they tell you to hold onto the person infront of you. When you enter it is so pitch black you cant help but be in shock. My heart started pounding cause I really couldn't see ANYTHING and all i wanted was for my eyes to get adjusted and they wouldnt. So i sat down and i felt around for my fork and knife and napkin. I put the napkin on my lap. Mind you, a blind woman, Olivia, led us to our table. Luckily she spoke a lot of english! Well, then we waited quite a while for our first dish, but when we recieved it, she tapped each of us on the back and asked if we recieved a plate yet and said she was placing it infront of us. So, along with everyone else we decided we couldn't really use utensils so we pretty much ate with our hands. I never used my knife once the entire night! And since no one could see you, no one knew if you had food on your face or not! So i didn't care if I looked foolish or not! I'm not going to tell you the food because if you ever go, i dont know if the surprise menu is always the if you care to know then you can email me ;) Anyway, when the wine came the ONLY way to pour was for someone to stick their finger in the glass to see how high they poured. Well it still didn't work, so I got red wine on my white shirt. (it came out today) So when we finished the first course, Olivia came to ask if we were finished and I replied Oui and she said she was going to take my plate and she did. Then we waited forever. Whether my eyes were opened or closed, i couldn't tell a difference. I was very quiet the entire meal. They were actually shushing us to be quite cause with a large group we were a little loud. But the whole experience is supposed to be calming and with us (some of us drunk...not me) it's hard to be quiet. So i stayed to myself trying to take in the experience. One girl from our table left the room because she drank too much before she came so I don't know if she was clausterphobic or nauseous. She eventually came back. However, when you want to leave you have to call your server. You can't go out alone. Anyway, the next course came and again I had to eat with my hands. I felt mostly that I was eating mush anyway :) Oh, and the food was not hot. I know the concept behind that is because they don't want anyone burning themselves, but it made the food taste mediocre. It was funny because you had a bunch of culinary students making jokes about "i wonder if they care about presentation here!" Anyway, they removed that plate, and i think I actually fell asleep before dessert came. But I said to myself, this is a real "eye opening experience" then i chuckled. But seriously, you don't appreciate the senses you have until you REALLY lose them. I COULD NOT SEE! Very frustrating! All night i was trying to open my eyes, but they were open. Oh, and someone in our group brought his cell phone in with him so everyonce in a while he would open it. Most of you know me...that's the type of thing that bothers me...i just thought it ruined the experience. Anyway...we got dessert and it depressed me. Not good. I was ready to leave. Not because I didn't LOVE the experience, but the food was bad. So a few of my friends bravely left themselves with the cellphone dude, and actually got reprimanded. But we waited for Olivia. When we left, I couldn't see very well in the light but it was weird being in reality. I didn't wear my glasses that night because i knew I wouldn't need them, but when I got into light I couldn't focus at all. It was strange. Anyway, I'd go back for the experience in a smaller group and maybe order off the menu. However, the food was crap. But it was a fun evening with a great group of people and it was worth staying out til 3 am :) Any questions...send them my way!

Birthday Girl Kaitlin!

(left to right: Maggie, Rick, Jackson, Lauren, Melissa L, Kaili, Kaitlin, Melissa A, Molly, Claire, and Ben and I took the picture)

Jackson, Kaili and Lauren

The sisters (or so everyone says to us!) Kaili, Lauren and we look THAT much alike?!?!

Feb 16, 2007

Well my day started rather early today and was a VERY VERY long one at that! So YESTERDAY at 7:30 pm (my time-12:30 pm IL time) I sent both of my parents a text telling them to call me...well at 4 am (my time- 9 pm IL time) my phone rings and it's BOTH of my parents on the phone asking if I'm ok cause my dad got a text saying to call me! I was's 4 am...i sent that forever ago...can i go to bed. I couldn't believe it. So i went back to bed. Then at 7 I got a phone call from my friend Jon in the states asking if I was up and I was about to say no I was not up...then I freaked out cause I forgot to set my alarm for 6:45 so I was SOOOO thankful he called to "wake me up!" If he wouldn't have called I would have TOTALLY kept sleepin! However at first I was so annoyed cause it was like my phone wouldn't stop ringing! Anyway...went to school and at 8:30 we had CD and learned Mussel Soup, Veal Chops and Strawberries Italian Style with Pistachio Biscuits,a Marscapone and Whipped Cream Topping and a Balsamic and Orange Juice reduction sauce. Not the best tasting day except for the Strawberry thing! That was one of the most amazing and simple desserts i've ever tasted! I mean we DID learn it in it HAS to be easy ;) I'll be makin that A LOT! It's SOOO good! Anyway after class we ran for coffee because at 12 we had cuisine pictures. Blah! Then at 12:30 we MADE the veal chop. Well...I didn't do horrible...however my jus...was horrible. When I mean horrible...I mean I asked the chef if I had to serve it because I personally wouldn't serve it in my restaurant so why would i want to serve it to him? He said that was ok and I could trash it...especially after he tried it ;) It was nasty. It happened to a few others in class too. He explained to me why it was that happened so atleast now I knew why. As far as the rest of my dish, he said my veal was cooked correctly and my potatoes were perfectly browned. He didn't say anything about my turning though! Oh well. And my other veggies (onions and mushrooms) were cooked correctly also. So besides the jus, I didn't do bad. However...I couldn't eat it. Not my type of flavor.

So we got out VERY 2:15 (normally 3:30). So Katie was feeling sick (hope u are better sweetheart!!!), Kaili went to take a nap and Melissa went to do laundry and now that you know everyone's business (heehee) I waited around to go to the pastry visit! pastries...ofcourse i'm in!!! So at 3:45 we left because someone was we walked over to this nice pastry shop called Christian Lecoq. He is the owner. He was very nice and he makes EVERY thing in house which is exactly how I want to do it. And the best he makes 12 different flavors of Millefeuille!!!! I will def have to go back and check those out ;) Well they had leftovers of what we i told him i liked it so he gave them to me! hahaha. Atleast I was going to the gym afterwards! So after the visit, I DID go to the gym...then after I RAN to this store to buy leggings. I know I in leggings. Well it's what they ALL wear, plus you wear a long shirt and I tried to pull it off! So then I came home and got in the shower, and dolled myself up in my new leggins! Then I proceeded to walk to dinner which was an hour away (walk that is!) It was GORGEOUS outside. Maybe 50 degrees out and clear weather. I listened to my favorite cd called Our Story So Far, and talked to my mom for a little. It was really nice ;) Anyway, I was going to this restaurant called Dans Le Noir. I am going to write a seperate blog about it!!!! It was for Kaitlin's Birthday. After dinner, at 1 am, Kaitlin (who lives a block away from me) and I walked to a cab stand to wait for 45 min for a cab and eventually got home at 2:30ish! Then at 3 am I went to bed :) Read the next blog for dinner details and pictures!

Feb 15, 2007

I woke up VERY excited today because I was making croissant and pains au chocolat in my first class today! Well...they didn't turn out as well as I hoped. I needed to try 4 of them to make sure though ;) I mean hot they tasted ok...but cold the next day, they were dense and tough and too thick. But chef said they looked great and felt the perfect weight meaning they were the correct size. So I guess that's good. They didn't seemed cooked to me, but when they were cooled down they were. What we also try and do is cut a little bit of each of the 4 of ours (melissa, katie, kaili and I's) of whatever we make and try a bit to see how it differs so we can see what it is the chef is explaining to us. It's so weird how we all made the SAME dough and they all tasted different! And NONE of ours tasted like the chefs yesterday! Granted he's been making them longer...but still! We also made the brioche dough which i HAVE to say was rather amusing! We were slappin that shit around like crazy! it was on the ceiling and in our hair! SO much fun :) Great class all together.

Then at break we went for coffee. I've decided I'm gonna hold back on my coffee intake. I'm spending too much money on coffee and it doesn't even help me :) So I just went to sit! Then we came back to make our beef! What a great class. I kicked some butt if I say so myself! I barely asked for help, and I whipped up my stuff like I actually knew what i was doing. When i finished chef congratulated me on a job well done and told me tres bon for everything. He said it was perfect. *smile* So i succeeded in a great dinner...which is what I will be making when I get home for all my friends and i hope u like beef tournados with french fries and bernaise sauce (and an artichoke!). I sure liked it...especially the fries...oy!

Then we got out very early and some of my friends went for more coffee and some a beer...but I stayed at school and checked some emails and stuff! Then at 3:30 we a PD and we learned how to make brioche!!! Well Chef likes to take his time so class took FOREVER today. We learned tons of brioche types though...and he made a kugelhopf. But only one and that's my favorite. Well I made it a point to go up to him and tell him after class...and he gave me the WHOLE thing :) I think he likes me! heehee. So i ate some of it and shared the rest! I also asked him in class why it was that his croissant tasted better than ours. He said he uses his OWN recipe when he makes it for us! So i asked him if he could give it to us. So he did! It has WAY more sugar it in. But i knew something was fishy when there was a HUGE taste difference. So annoying that he can make his products and we make the crappy stuff! I also asked why my friends and I's tasted different. He said because maybe we weighed things out differently, or the amount of yeast and how fresh it was or how much time it had to rise. Just a lot of reasons. Very interesting. After school I attempted to go to the gym...however after eating so much food today and the HORRIBLE smells (most of the french don't know how to wear deoderant) I had to leave after 30 min cause i thought I was gonna yarf! So i came home and watched a horrible/great movie that a friend at school told me I had to watch. It was called Duets with Gweneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis. It was all about karaoke contests. Pretty funny. Took up some of my that was good. Then I went to bed :) GREAT DAY!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Joyeuse St-Valentin

Well it is the dreaded day...but mine wasn't too bad! I was surrounded by people I love and who love me (minus mom, dad, and a few close friends from home) But otherwise i was VERY happy. I woke up, NO hangover ;) ate my pains au chocolat from Laduree that I purchased yesterday...walked to school for my two demos and the food was quite delicious today! In CD we learned a Flemish which is a leek pie with cheese, beef tournados with bernaise sauce and french fries and a frozen bombe! All VERY tasty :) Then at break I stayed in and checked my email and stuff because it was raining and i didn't want to mess my hair anymore because at 12 we took class pictures for pastry! How fun...NOT! But we had to do it. Then at 12:30 we had PD and we learned CROISSANT! 4 diff types actually. Plain ones, chocolate (which is called pains au chocolat), apricot ones, and cherry windmills! Plus...chef made two EXTRA things which were pain au raisin but with croissant dough instead of brioche dough and then some brittany bread...which was great! We also learned the dough for our brioche! Anyway...class ended and i tried all 6 of the croissant types he made...but i ate an ENTIRE pains au chocolate...and may i give MAD props to the chef...the most AMAZING chocolate croissant i have EVER had. maybe it was because it was straight out of the oven...but it was light and fluffy and just enough butter and just perfect! Loved every min of it! I can't wait to make them!!!!! Oh...forgot to mention...we were a tad bored in class i took a picture of Lauren's pretty decoration she made on her fingers! love yah lauren ;)

Then after class I went to the gym...then came home...dropped off my stuff, went back out, went to the closest chinese food place and ordered me A LOT of food, came home, gorged myself, showered, did some online research, and wished myself a Joyeuse St-Valentin. Love to all! It's been a GREAT day :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feb 13, 2007

What a fabulous day!!! I had ONE class today. We made the genoise cake. Not the best thing in the world. But i tried my damned hardest to moisten my bottom and top layers...but they weren't perfect...however...working at Cold Stone Creamery came in handy! we had to ice our, i think doing that all summer helped a bit! Anyway...chef said my cake was tres bon...very good. He said I soaked it well. So that was good!

Then me, Melissa L, Kaili, and Katie went to Lauduree for brunch and dessert for V-day! what a treat! I had a great salad...pictured below. then coffee and dessert which melted too quickly to take a picture of! but it was strawberry and vanilla ice cream with chantilly cream, and strawberry sauce and strawberries! outstanding! and ofcourse i couldn't leave without taking home some macarons!

after an amazing brunch with amazing people, kaili and i went shoppping to some american food markets. not as good as we expected...but not horrible either! I bought a dr pepper and mike and ikes :) Then I left her and I did some shopping of my own! Ooops...i spent some money...but it was WELL worth it! and i LOVE what i bought! Then I came home...drank 5 coronas, ate my macaroons, hooked up my livebox (WiFi box), ate some of my roomies rabbit, chatted with my roomie a little tipsy! and i wrote this blog...then passed out :)

Feb 12, 2007

Class at 8:30 was a VERY successfull class. We made the veal stew. And although two of my nameless friends didn't show up (we missed you!!!!) Katie and I rocked the house! Chef Cotte taught us something new which was a reduction ALWAYS brings out the taste better ESPECIALLY when u are dealing with a roux! So...we did something different we learned in demo and our sauces were much better than the demo chef's! Chef loved my dish! He was very impressed with it. C'est Bon!

Then Katie, Kaitlin and I went for coffee. I had a LOT of coffee today...but i bought, unbeknownst to them!!! :) Then at 12:30 we had pastry demo and I sat in front because we learned some genoise mocha butter cream cake and....dum dum dum.....CROISSANT! YAH! we only learned the dough. we actually make it wed or thur or something! but i am very excited! Good week! Anyway, then after class, which ended at 3, I had my french speaking friend Melissa L. call the shot place to see if I could get my 4:05 appt earlier. They said 3:30 which was perfect. So i walked over to the "nobody speaks english" place...and I actually translated for the COMPLETELY non speaking french dude infront of me. I can atleast comprehend some stuff. I was talking to him and he said he was a student. I asked him if he was gonna learn french and he said no! OY! He is worse than me. Anyway, then it was my turn. Long story short...because my main test results were normal, i only had to take one shot...come back in 5 weeks and take the same shot...then i dont have to take that shot again for another 10 years! But whatever. I still didn't get in til 4:10 because of the stupid dude who spoke no french! Then I went to the gym...ran home...showered and got dressed and went back to school to go to wine class! Today was WHITE wines. So needless to say i didn't sip...i drank :) and i found a new wine i REALLY like...and its only 6 euros a bottle. How cheap?!?! i'm stocking up! Anyway...I came home and ate some of my roomates AMAZING tune dish....and then crashed :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Salon National Boulangerie

Well today I woke up at 9, did some laundry ate some breakfast got dressed. I left my house at 11 to walk in the pouring rain to Porte de Versaille to meet up with Trephene and her boyfriend Oscar for the Pastry Expo! It was fun...however not as fun as the food show in chicago ;) But, I did get my fairshare of food and fun things to look at. We walked around for about 3 hrs. So I ate and saw plenty, including some other members from school. It was really exciting to see the tools I am going to need to open my own place. However a lot of the stuff was premade pastries that they ship to you, which I am VERY against! I tried some frozen products from this one place, including macarons and mille feuille...both bland and not worth buying! I can make them myself! All of my product will be fresh! Then we left and sat down for a beer to relax for a bit, and then I came home. I lost my internet forever cause I pressed one stupid button on my computer, but i got it back! I'm about to go read then go to bed early tonite! Too much good food today has made me tired :) Bonne nuit!


Today was great. Woke up at 9...went to the gym, the market, home to shower then i was ABOUT to go do a city walk...BUT Kaili called and said her and Lauren were going to BIA, so once again...Breakfast In America has interrupted my plans for the day! But that's ok...cause it's worth it! So i went with the two of them for lunch and tried their nachos. Not the best nachos I've had...but when you are in france and don't get to eat them'll eat them no matter what! Oh, but so funny. We were eating our lunch, and the table next to us says to Kaili "excuse me, do you think we could have one french fry? Our son LOVES fries and once he saw them at your table he can't stop staring" So she gave him one. It was rather awkward. However they were very nice people and we wound up having a convo with them. Anyway, then we walked to Pascal Pinaud, which is the Pastry Shop Chef Cotte told us to go to for the best Macarons. Well he failed on that. They were HORRIBLE beyond belief. Waste of money, time, and taste buds! So we continued to walked for a little, then we went to Kaili's market and shopped for groceries for dinner! haha. Some guy wanted to charge her 10 euros for pine nuts! we payed 3 instead at the super market. We went back to Kaili's and Lauren made pesto while Kaili relaxed before making her part of the dinner and I sat on the computer making her myspace page pretty and setting up her aim :) Then Kaili made the rest of dinner. We ate and watched about 9 episodes of sex and the city! Finally at midnight I decided to walk home. Went to bed!