A well seasoned approach to travel and food

Morning Demonstrations And Croissants

November 3, 2017

Since I packed last night, I was looking forward to a little bit of a sleep-in before getting up to go to my last cooking class.  However, I was awoken by loud music and singing in the street.  Since it was very dark in my room and I couldn’t see what time it was, I thought it might be late night partiers.  The sound was just loud enough to be annoying. I looked out the window and saw that it was light and there was day time movement afoot – it was 7:45 am.  I tried looking out the window to see what the raucous was all about, but couldn’t quite crane my neck far enough.  So, I did what any busybody would do in my place, I got dressed and headed downstairs for a look-see.

Situated next to the W Hotel is a large Apple store. In front of the store, there were barricades, police, lots of security, and a bunch of people, some of whom were yelling and singing.  There was a small quiet group of people in line to purchase the new iPhone X, which goes on sale today – the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone.  The noisier group was protesting the fact that Apple hasn’t paid taxes in France, as in never.  They owe billions upon billions according to the government and this band of merry protestors. 

Not sure what they thought their little demonstration would do, other than to wake a few people up, but they had cheerleaders (well, actually just older people bundled up in warm jackets with pom poms), cartoon characters (a walking silver Apple emblem who was force-fed a walking piece of birthday cake), and a guy with a bullhorn (actually more of a megaphone as his voice didn’t carry very far).  It was quite amusing. 

After about an hour, the protestors moved on, leaving a few people behind to distribute literature.  The same group has to demonstrate at the other two Apple stores in Paris, so they had a schedule to keep.  You have to love the scheduled demonstrations in the EU. 

So, I was up for the day.  On my way back into the hotel, I stopped to pick up my box of macarons.  They still aren’t ready to eat (I have to wait another six hours or so). Since I’m checking out of the hotel today, so I thought I’d put them in my room ready for when I finalize my packing.  But that’s not until after my next cooking class, which is Croissants – my favorite breakfast bread item of all time (well, that and really gooey cinnamon rolls).

Like the other chefs I’ve had at La Cuisine Paris, our chef for the day, Guillaume, has been baking and cooking since he was a child.  Guillaume has been a pastry chef in many restaurants and bakeries across Europe and San Francisco.  There were seven other people in my class ~ a young couple from San Diego who provided the comic relief, a mother/daughter/aunt trio from Chicago, a young computer programmer from New York City, and my teammate, a guy from Tampa.  I was lucky to have him on my team as he teaches cooking, makes bread all the time, and has made croissants on previous occasions.

Croissant dough has to be frozen for 24 hours after it’s made and then thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Within a 3-hour class, there was no way to actually use the dough we made ourselves.  This is the same for other classes before us. So, when we made the croissants and other pastries, we used dough a prior class had made.  Our dough would go to future classes. 

Using the already prepared dough, we learned how to roll it out, cut it, and shape it into traditional croissants, a basket-weave croissant (which would be filled with jam), a pin-wheel croissant (topped with chocolate and pearl sugar), and a chocolate filled croissant.  All the extra scraps of dough cut off to square up the dough to make croissants were gathered and used to make cinnamon rolls and cream-filled raisin twists.  We also made the pastry cream used for the twists. 

While all the above was set to rise and ultimately brushed with an egg wash, we set to making croissant dough for future classes.

This part was really tough because croissants are made from layers of dough with butter in between.  We learned how to make a “butter block” – a sheet of butter, which was in turn wrapped in dough.  Then everything was chilled, then rolled out, and folded over on itself. The dough was then chilled, rolled out and folded on itself, and so on for a total of four folds. 

The trick was to fold the dough so that its surface didn’t break, which would let the butter out.  Each time the butter-stuffed dough was rolled out, it stretched, which made the layers thinner and thinner.  On my final fold, a bit of butter escaped through the thin layers, but it only happened on the inside and not the outside, so it was salvageable.  My final product looked like the example Chef Guillaume made, so I was delighted.

Once done (and this took a lot of time), our croissants and pastries had been baked, and we sat down for tea, coffee, and our goodies.  There was too much goodness to eat in one sitting, so I took the remainder of mine to go for dinner and breakfast tomorrow before my plane ride home.

After bidding farewell to my La Cuisine family, I headed back to the hotel, finished my packing, and checked out.  During my stay, I had several conversations with one of the front desk staff. She was trained as a pastry chef before getting into the hospitality business and had been impressed I was taking cooking classes.  Each day, she inquired as to the outcome of the classes.  Before leaving, I showed her my croissants and pastries and shared some macarons with her and a bellman.  She was very impressed with my macarons and gave me compliments on the fluffiness of my croissants.

The final stay of my trip was at a Holiday Inn close to Charles de Gaulle airport (thanks to IHG points). I have an early morning flight from Paris to London and then from London back to Dallas.  I can’t believe I’ve been gone a month – it feels like only last week I was in St. Petersburg. 

It’s been a great trip, but I will be happy to get home and back to Steven.  Hopefully, you’ve been inspired to go out and travel ~ the world is a big place.  Je souhaite pour vous une vie heureuse et grande voyages.