Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Halfway Point, and the Most Beautiful Forest I've Seen


The work atmosphere is great.  Of course it is stressful at times, but that was to be expected!  I am also in love with the way Four Seasons treats their employees.  Every month, there will be a day at lunch in the cafeteria where they celebrate either a region of France, or a holiday, or, for example, when we were listed as a Palace again.  They put out white table cloths, spread out rose petals and serve champagne.  It feels so special.  Also, you just feel the sense that everyone cares about you.  I'm just an intern but I feel extremely supported and like part of the team.

Now that I've been working there for 3 months (half of my internship), I have much more responsibility and I feel much more comfortable in my abilities and in what I have learned.  There are 2 new apprentices now, who are a step higher than interns in the stringent French kitchen hierarchy.  I'm serious, the cuisine hierarchy here is insane.  I will be happy to return to the states where it is more straightforward and simple.  Anyway, apprentices are still not finished with school and are doing their apprenticeship for 2 years alongside with their schooling--they work 2 weeks, and then have classes for 2 weeks.  And, even the kid who is 16 years old and has no kitchen experience and almost no work ethic, is slightly my superior.  Anyway, for the 2 weeks when the apprentices are not at work, I get to help prepare for restaurant service.  I love this the most.  For the 2 weeks when the apprentices are at work, I make the petit fours, and then prepare everything for assembling the petit fours the next day.  

Here is a plate of petit fours for a cocktail (there were 100 plates like this that we had to assemble).  I really like making things in large numbers like this, maybe catering is in my future?

Petit fours for a cocktail
This is the cart that goes out to the bar/gallerie area every day.  I think it's funny how dramatic the French language is at times.  They don't use a boring word like "cart." To them, this is a chariot.  Even the ugly little metal carts we use to collect dairy products and fruits in the morning from the fridge downstairs are called chariots.  Sometimes I imagine that we are all dressed in Roman garb riding around the kitchen arena with our chariots.  It amuses me.

The desserts on the chariot change seasonally, this was the summer-time chariot.

Right now though, the chariot is so pretty and autumny:

Happily, I work from 8am to 4pm, so I still have a good amount of daytime to explore after work, that is if I'm not completely exhausted and on the verge of death, which happens frequently.  But, here are some stories and pictures of some of my adventurous afternoons:

A friend of my grandmother's has a great-nephew, Joey, who came to Paris from Arizona on his way to a culinary program in Italy.  So, we met  up and I showed him around the city a bit.  Unfortunately, we were surprised by a freak intense rainstorm.  We made lots of new friends under this archway while waiting for a lull.  I felt a little bit like we all had our shields up against arrow-fire.  I don't know how so many people happened to have umbrellas with them.  I didn't.

Luckily, it calmed down enough for us to see the chateau de vincennes.  I LOVE this place.  

There is a botanical-garden type place nearby that we went to after the chateau.  It is so pretty there.

But then it started pouring again--luckily there were a handful of greenhouses to hideout in and watch the storm:

In early October there was a city-wide event called Nuit-Blanche, with free artsy exhibitions all over the city.  Most of them were light-based, or projected onto buildings.  It was really interesting.  The streets were SO full of people, even in the wee hours of the morning, just out celebrating art.    Here are some pictures of what I saw:

I make crepes fairly often at work, and when you have to make hundreds of crepes at a time, I find it is easy to fall into a kind of crepe-trance.  I love looking at each crepe and noticing how the perfect ones look so much like the moon with its craters.  Also, as a result of making so many, I can make crepes in my sleep now and have started making them for breakfast on the weekends!

I've really enjoyed seeing the city transform at night, it's a new culture that comes out at night.

One of my fellow classmates from Ferrandi recently had a going-away party, and it was kind of like a little reunion.  It was so good to see everyone again and to compare our internships.  It sounds like everyone is experiencing heavy responsibilities and learning tons.  That is, everyone who has continued with their internships.  Many people have left France already, or have quit their internships and are looking for a new one.  I feel like maybe only half of everyone has continued on with an internship--and it's only been 3 months.

A couple of weekends ago, after having enough of the paved and people-filled city-life and sincerely craving raw, wild nature and a bit of solitude, I had a self-date and went to the Foret Domaniale de Meudon, which is only a 30 minute bus-ride out of town from me.  It was incredibly beautiful.  I was so excited about exploring it that I made myself an adventure-pack the night before with an apple and some snack food, my journal, some charcoals in case I felt like sketching, and my camera.  Look at this place, it's gorgeous!

Here, I pulled out my journal and wrote for a while.  It was so amazing to feel cold, natural earth beneath my feet again--not cement or earth that probably has a layer of cement underneath it, or a metro line even.  No, just soft, virgin Earth.  To see moss growing on decomposing logs and to observe a fine mist clinging to the bottoms of trees like subtitles.  I stumbled upon a pond and a small little cafe in the middle of the woods.  I wish you could hear the sound of the ducks giggling or the leaves rustling under the sticks of the mushroom-hunters, or even smell the stagnant side of the pond.

So that was a wonderful adventure, then I headed to the Sunday market that's near my apartment and bought this roasted chicken and potatoes.  It was insanely delicious and furthered the happiness of my Sunday afternoon!

Happy with my chicken and 'taters

Also, only the French would have Roasted-Chicken and Thyme flavored potato chips.

Happy Halloween!


  1. Loved the newest post and pic's. Keep those adventures coming! Cannot believe you are half way through the internship, time is flying!
    I got my blog going: http://kraftynote-ables.blogspot.com
    and My Etsy Shop is open: KraftyNoteAbles.etsy.com
    Hope you'll stop by and post.
    Take care.

  2. I'm glad you can make crepes in your sleep! Lovely photos. It sounds as if you are coming to Texas soon. Is your stage over?