Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chocolates, new shoes, and some very good news

We made chocolates last week!  Lots of yummy flavors.  

Tray of just-made chocolates
Here they are--cut in half to reveal the delicious insides.  Yes, I was eating chocolate in bed, there's nothing wrong with that.

This is the whiskey truffle.  SO creamy and melty and whisky-y inside!

This has hazelnut praline inside and it is SUPER delicious with the candied hazelnut on top to add a lovely little crunch.

This is called the baiser volé (stolen kiss).  The bottom layer is praline, and the top layer is amazing--it is apricot and passion fruit!  It's all covered in dark chocolate afterward, and topped with a candied violet.  But when I eat it, I feel like I'm eating a gourmet peanut butter and jelly--the praline is like the peanut butter and the apricot passion fruit gelatine is like a really flavorful jam.

Also, on the far left in the back, there is a dark chocolate with basil and lemon.  Very nice.  And the foreground of the left side is the palet d'or which is a delicious melding of dark chocolate and coffee, with gold leaf on top.

This is called Hesperide.  It is dark chocolate with apples and salted caramel inside!! So good.


So, last Friday I had an interview with the Four Seasons Hotel George V to see if I can do my 6 month internship there.  I was extremely nervous because it was, of course, entirely in French and I get nervous for interviews even when they're in English.  Anyway, I spent lots of time preparing hypothetical questions and my possible answers, and formulating which questions I wanted to ask.  And then I had to plan what I was going to wear, because this is a palace hotel (well, not this year, but that's another story) and I wanted to look professional, nice, etc.  SO, I bought some nice flats, and came home to see what I could put together and realized that I didn't really have anything so I went wandering around Boulogne until I came across a little boutique.  It really was small, there were only about 6 racks of clothes lining the walls of the narrow interior.  It was just me and the girl at the desk.  I finally picked a dress and asked her if she thought it looked good for an interview (I have no idea about interview protocol here in France).  She was really nice and agreed that the dress was a nice choice, but helped me to pick out several other outfits to try--she knew my size immediately just by looking at me.  It always amazes me when people can do that.  My first instinct won, a classy, professional black dress.  She was impressed by my French, which gave me confidence for my interview the next day.

Friday morning, I walked into the offices for the interview and had to stop by security first.  I got a badge.  I was "VISITEUR E01."  I was led to a waiting room and waited about 20 minutes until my interviewer arrived.  She was very friendly.  She had my resume and cover letter in front of her.  She asked very basic questions like "tell me your story" and "why the George V?" and NONE of the difficult questions that I had prepared to answer, like "how do you work in a team" or "how do you deal with stress" or "what are your strengths and weaknesses?"  Anyway, it was good that I was over-prepared because I slipped my prepared answers into her very vague questions.  She seemed satisfied and took me back into the waiting room.  I was to have a second interview with the sous chef next.  So I waited a while, and then he walked in.  Very young, probably only a couple years older than me.  His interview involved even less of me talking, just the same question "why the George V?" and then, after obviously being satisfied with my answer, began telling me, in rapid-fire parisian French what I could expect if I were to work with them.  It was almost impossible to understand.  There were random French words ambiently floating around in my brain while he was speaking, and then he would pause, and they would come together all at once, like a puzzle, and I would be like ok THAT'S what he said! So I feel like that's a good sign for my French comprehension.  Anyway, he told me that there is a team of 16 in the pastry kitchen, everyone is young.  The head chef is only 28 years old.  He said that everyone gets along very well, they're happy people, and the atmosphere in the kitchen is really great, there's room to breathe.  But he ended his machine-gun speech by nodding approvingly and saying, "vous êtes très souriante" (you are very smiley).  Then I was led back into the familiar waiting room to await yet another person.  However, I was glad to discover that she wasn't there to interview me, she was there to offer me the internship (the last pastry internship space that was left!).  So I got my paperwork, and left.  I'll start my internship at the Four Seasons Hotel George V on August 1st.  I can't wait!!

This past week, we worked on traditional French choux desserts.  The first day we made nougatine.  To do that, you cook sugar until it's a very dark golden and then add sliced almonds.  Then you pour it out onto an iron baking sheet to work it a little bit, then roll it out with a metal rolling pin (so it doesn't stick) and cut out your pieces, but it has to be hot enough to cut or else it breaks.  So there is this whole process of putting it back into the oven to heat up so it can be worked with.  There also is a consequential process of burnt fingers that occurs.  The nougatine shapes we made were to form the base and the crown of the larger piece we made, the very traditional French croque en bouche (literally, crack/crunch in the mouth).
Nougatine base decorated with royal icing

Nougatine crown
 The next day we made pâte à choux (the balls), glazed them with cooked sugar that hardens like candy, and built the structure, sticking them to one another with the cooked sugar.  More burnt fingers.
My Croque en Bouche
 After that, we made another French classic, St. Honoré.  This has a round puff pastry bottom, with pâte à choux spiraled around the middle and lining the edges.

The choux balls are filled with Cointreau cream (because they're hollow inside after baking), and glazed with candied sugar and are placed upside down to harden so it's flat on top.  These are stuck around the edges with cooked sugar.  I think it looks really pretty!

The famous part of the St. Honoré is the piping pattern on top.  There's actually a piping tip named "st. honoré tip" after it.  This one is made with chantilly cream, but we get to make it again later with ice cream!

My St. Honoré, with candied violets on top!

Mmmm remember they're each filled with Cointreau cream!
OH, and since I now know exactly when my internship starts, I bought a ticket to go home for a few weeks this summer!  I can't wait to see family and friends for a little while before I start some intense working.


  1. Congratulations on the Internship. All of the delicacies you have pictured look delicious! Especially the choux balls.

  2. Thank you so much! They are indeed delicious, I need to watch myself--it gets pretty dangerous being around so many yummy things every day.

  3. Congrats on your internship! At the Georges V! Where they filmed French Kiss!!! Love it!
    So excited for you!

  4. vous êtes très souriante because you have a cool internship! Congratulations. I want one of each of the truffels - they look amazing.

  5. Thank you!! I wish I could send you truffles :) @ Dana--I LOVE that movie; I even have a copy of it here!