travel

post64 // paris getaways

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lille, france

it’s been a little while since my last post and only one thing can explain that: travel! i’ve been taking advantage of europe’s stellar train system and exploring different parts of france and its neighbors. today, i’m clueing you in on the beautiful (and nearby!) places i’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. this was my first visit to each location so you’re getting a true first look. let’s go!


amsterdam 3hr15m by train

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meringues at STACH food

amsterdam is just as idyllic as people make it out to be. i was surprised by how quaint the city was, being quite small and filled with gift shops selling the signature blue-stained pottery, delftware.

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delftware from a shop on prinsengracht street

with just one full day in amsterdam, my friends and i opted for a paddling boat tour of the city. and lucky me, i didn’t have to paddle! (thanks sam and greta.) instead, i photographed and boy did we come across some beautiful architecture. the canals and renaissance architecture make for quite a view, even on a gloomy day!

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fellow boater whose boat is called c’est la vie!

some recommendations:

  • pancakes, the pancake bakery, prinsengracht 191
  • small gifts, spiegel amsterdam, nieuwe spiegelstraat 2a hs
  • afternoon snack, STACH food, nieuwe spiegelstraat 52
  • dinner, breda, singel 210
  • after-dinner drinks, dutch style, de twee zwaantjes, prinsengracht 141

lille 1hr by train

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the reflection at la piscine museum

when first looking for a day-trip from paris, the image above drew me right in. just outside the city of lille is an art museum that’s housed in art-deco swimming pool from the 1930s. cool right?? it was my first stop on my visit to lille, the fifth largest city in france.

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mille feuille at meert

surrounding the swimming pool are sculptures, ceramics, fabrics and artwork. beyond the art, what used to be the pool’s refreshment area is now home to an offshoot of lille’s most famous patisserie, meert. art deco + pastries = i’m there! above you can see meert’s mille feuille, also known as a napoleon, which i ate completely by myself for lunch that day. who said sugar can’t be a good lunch substitute?

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lille’s chamber of commerce

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place charles de gaulle

after lunch and my museum visit, i headed into the town center of lille. lille sits just below the border of belgium and you can tell by their architecture and the friendliness of the people there. similar to amsterdam, lille has many 2-3 story row-houses in colorful paints and darling square windows to boot.

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the bar at estaminet au vieux de la vieille

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a very cool vintage accordion at estaminet au vieux de la vieille

after doing some research, i found many sources recommending the same restaurant and bar: estaminet au vieux de la vieille. it’s located in le vieux lille, a particularly hip part of town. i headed there for just an afternoon pint and bite of cheese but soon i was making a reservation for their dinner. this restaurant truly makes you feel at home, a great pick for any solo traveler!

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the marvelous cheeses at fromagerie philippe olivier

and i even found a church named after me in lille! i was getting more comfortable in lille with each step i took.

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some recommendations:

  • dinner and drinks, estaminet au vieux de la vieille, 2-4 rue des vieux murs
  • cheese shop, fromagerie philippe olivier, 3 rue du cure saint-etienne
  • pastries, meert, 27 rue esquermoise (in-town or at the museum)
  • the funkiest quilt shop i’ve ever seen, la drougerie, 50 rue basse
  • museum, la piscine – musée d’art et d’industrie andré diligent, 23 rue de l’espérance, roubaix

normandy 2hr30m by train

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going to normandy is a trip i recommend for every american. it is a very special feeling being in a foreign country and going somewhere where you see your flag standing so high. after 7 months here in france, it was really moving to see just how america is recognized in normandy.

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coast off pointe du hoc, imagine climbing up this cliff

the coast is magnificent and a little known fact is that normandy is actually a popular vacation spot for many parisians and northern french families in the summertime. much like maine, the water keeps cool!

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outside bayeux’s main cathedral

here’s me playing tourist outside bayeaux’s cathedral in a photo my dad took. i visited normandy with my parents and it was quite a treat for them as they traveled to normandy together 35 years ago! talk about a throwback. we even stayed at the same hotel, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux!

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normandy american cementary

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memorials in the sand at omaha beach

some recommendations:

  • hotel and dinner, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux, 71 rue saint-jean, 14400 bayeux
  • sights,
    • normandy american cementary, 14710, Colleville-sur-Mer
    • pointe du hoc (cliffs overlooking normandy, critical point in ww2)
    • bayeux tapestry museum, 13bis rue de nesmond
    • bayeux cathedral, rue du bienvenu

and in this week’s other stuff, how about some paris food recommendations!

  • must try duck confit here
  • must try chocolate here
  • must try frozen margaritas here

 

all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.

post63 // where to eat croissants in paris (+video!!)

you’ve asked and i’ve answered! after my last episode of foodstuffs presents here in paris, i asked viewers what they’d like to see more of. requests for croissants came knocking on my inbox, one after another. so here we are! i took the subway on over to east paris — home to the very trendy and bustling “le marais” and bastille neighborhoods — to check out two of the most well-known bakeries in paris.

ride along with me to see which croissant wins out and what bakery you should bookmark for your next trip to paris.


  1. blé sucré (11th arr, bastille) 7 Rue Antoine Vollon, 75012 Paris, open 7am-730pm tuesday-sunday
  2. du pain et des idées (in between 10th and 3rd arr, république) 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, open 645am-8pm weekdays only
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blé sucré’s croissant (left), du pain et des idées (right)

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blé sucré’s croissant, exterior

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blé sucré’s croissant, interior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, exterior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, interior

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blé sucré’s croissant (top), du pain et des idées (bottom)


and in this week’s non-croissant related stuff!

current inspo: this hedgehog

my host family showed me the intro to a classic french film with uncanny resemblance to la la land. what do you think?

a great read on new york city restauranteurs


photography and videography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post61 // open this valentine! (psssst, it’s filled with chocolate)

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heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

hellooooo! greetings from my chocolate-filled valentine! since i’m far away from many friends and loved ones on this valentine’s day 2018, i’ve decided to send you a virtual valentine with chocolate creations like the stuff of dreams.

this valentine’s day landed perfectly in the middle of my pastry trimester, which is focused on chocolate work. well done, le cordon bleu scheduling! from chocolate glazes to tempered chocolate to chocolate mousse to chocolate crunch, i’ve been working with a lot (!!) of chocolate this trimester. talk about keeping my uniform supremely white while doing it — the toughest job of them all.

below you can find four chocolately creations that i’ve made in my pastry classes. i’ve listed their core components so that you (yes, you!) can go and make one for yourself!

dark chocolate choux pastry choux au chocolat noir 

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this chocolate choux pastry is filled with chocolate pastry cream and a crispy praline insert. outside, you see a chocolate crunch topping, finished with a dark chocolate glaze.

to get started, check out this recipe for chocolate choux pastry. you’ll quickly see how easy it is!

chocolates (muscadine, praline) chocolats (muscadine, praliné)

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these two types of chocolates are called pralines (the square) and muscadines (the baton). the muscadine is filled with a creamy praline, chocolate, cointreau paste while the praline is filled with a simple chocolate and praline paste. i dipped both in tempered chocolate and rolled the muscadine in icing sugar directly after. to make the “professional” decoration on top, simply use a fork to lightly mark the chocolate 10-20 seconds after dipping, just before the chocolate has set.

don’t have space or a big marble slab to temper chocolate at home? follow this guide for a quick microwave-tempering! thermometer required.

heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

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this three-tier cake is quite the showstopper. the base is a hazelnut dacquoise filled with a praline crunch paste, topped with two layers of chocolate mousse and tempered chocolate rounds. the decoration on top was made with cookie cutters and tempered chocolate.

never heard of a dacquoise? it’s a cake base that’s very popular here in france, made from egg whites and nuts. bonus: it’s gluten free! start this cake by making your first dacquoise with food network’s recipe.

opera opéra

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of all the pastries seen here, you may be most familiar with the opera cake, a parisian classic! this cake alternates between layers of biscuit sponge and coffee buttercream, with a layer of chocolate ganache smack in the middle. on top is a chocolate glaze and the traditional opera writing (my first attempt at writing on cakes!).

you might be able to find this one in a high-end french bakery. but if not, Joe Pastry blog has a great tutorial that matches the authenticity of my recipe from cordon bleu.


just in case you’re wondering

while i’d love to be sharing all my cordon bleu recipes with you, they’re under copywrite. *but* i look forward to testing many of them once i’m out of school and sharing renditions that can be cooked in your home oven. stay tuned on this for next year!


in this week’s other stuff !

a hot new restaurant i’ll be trying in paris this weekend. reviews have been a+++++

books as decor is popping up everywhere (even in my house here in paris!). definitely digging this style trend

wardrobe goals


andddd that’s all for this week, folks! wishing you a very lovely valentine’s day!💖

 

 

post60 // paris in white

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square de la place du commerce, 7 january 1017 8:49am

as i sit here typing, more snow is falling in paris! given that this is a bit of a rarity here, i’ve decided to share some of my favorite images from the week. (all shot by me!)

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rue des 4 frères peignot, 6 january 2017 7:06pm

according to my parisian family, there hasn’t been significant snow in paris in 3 years! i am truly lucky that the sky decided this was the year.

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commerce metro, 7 january 2017 8:52am

to celebrate the occasion, i took to the streets wednesday morning and started photographing. the city was the quietest i’ve ever heard it, reminding me of new york city in the snow.

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already, paris is beautiful. topped with a fluffy cushion of white, it’s just enchanting.

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rue des presles, 7 january 2017 9:17am

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avenue de suffren, 7 january 2017 9:20am

since i live close(ish) to the eiffel tower, i headed over to champ de mars, the huge green space in front of the tower, to get some images of the snow-crusted landmark.

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:24am

the snow had just stopped and it was early enough that the white blanket was still intact!

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:24am

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:31am

one of the best parts of this snowfall was watching other people experience it. i have classmates at school who walked through snow for the first time this week. as we butchered a chicken on wednesday in class, my friend saw his first snowflakes! talk about ideal 😜.

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rue violet, 7 january 2017 9:02am

the toddlers from the preschool next to my house excitedly played in the snow all wednesday, most of them seeing snow for the first time! i dodged snowballs on the way home from school tuesday night.

the whole event has made me feel like a true kid, the way only snow can.

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rue des entrepreneurs, 7 january 2017 9:57am

and i couldn’t resist a foodie pic in the snow. are we surprised??

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rue de javel, 8 january 2017 2:54pm

to end: the less glamorous side of parisian snow. somehow, i still think it’s beautiful!


i’m currently working on a valentine’s day post that features many of the chocolates i’ve been making in pastry this trimester. tune into the blog this sunday for the feature!

happy weekend everyone. xx


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.

post59 // foodstuffs video guide: the best baguettes in paris

hey there guys and gals! how’s your friday? if it isn’t the best friday of your life, i’m just out here trying to make it better, by way of baguettes (lots of them).

i had so much fun filming my bakery crawl last month that i decided to bring these filming efforts to paris! this week i compared and contrasted 4 different baguettes from local bread bakeries in my neighborhood. boulangerie is the term for a french bakery that sells bread and you can find them at nearly every corner here in paris. so come ride along with me as i show you the insides of these shops, complete with handles shaped like croissants, and get into the nitty gritty of what makes a traditional french baguette.


foodstuffs video guide: the best baguettes in paris (15arr)

 


  1. le fournil sainte lucie (15arr) corner of rue de javel and rue sainte-lucie, 75015 paris, open 715am-730pm everyday except sunday
    • what i bought: baguette tradition
  2. maison koneth (15arr) 141 rue de la croix-nivert, 75015 paris, open 7am-8pm everyday except sunday
    • what i bought: baguette tradition
  3. borissou (15arr) 93 rue de commerce, 75015 paris, open 730am-8pm everyday except sunday
    • what i bought: baguette tradition
  4. eric kayser(15arr) 79 rue de commerce, 75015 paris, open 645am-830pm everyday except sunday
    • what i bought: baguette tradition

and in this week’s other stuff!

quite possibly the coolest dessert i’ve ever seen

these jeans fit so. good.

a quote in honor of the late paul bocuse, “classic or modern, there is only one cuisine… the good.” — paul bocuse, french chef (1926-2018)


what french storefronts do you want to see next?? charcuteries (meat shops)? fromageries (cheese shops)? comment below and i’ll take you there!

post57 // culinary school, first look

bonjour mes amis! [hello my friends!]

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15th arrondissement, my neighborhood here

greetings from parisland, where i’m back again after a long american holiday! it feels wonderful and exciting to be back in this foreign city that feels every bit less foreign and more like home by the second.

tomorrow i head back to le cordon bleu where i’m enrolled in their grand diplôme program. this program runs for 9 months and upon completion, students receive superior certificates in both pastry and cuisine.

while home, i was asked the following questions countless times, #1: what is a typical day at cordon bleu? and #2 what is your favorite dish to make? so for this week’s post, i’m serving up answers on a hot plate for you! (just in case you didn’t get to hear them in person).

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a day at cordon bleu

6am. wake up!!! most of my days begin with an early call time for class so i’m up and at ’em. to keep me full through the morning, i eat this muesli (a cereal-like breakfast made from rolled oats, grains, and dried fruits) almost every day. i do *sometimes* splurge for a croissant or pain aux raisins like the ones below…c’est la vie!

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pain au chocolat, croissant, pain aux raisins

7am. en route to school! i chose to live with a french host family while staying here to help improve my french and lucky enough, they live within walking distance from the school. once i get into the institute, i put on my uniform: pants, chef’s jacket, neckerchief, and shoes (i use dansko’s).

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crudités, mimosa hard boiled eggs

7:45am-11am. class starts! at school, there are two types of classes i can have: demonstrations or practicals. in demonstrations, i sit in a large lecture room where the chef prepares the dishes i’ll be making that day in practical class. while i receive the ingredient list, no recipe instructions are provided by the school so i take a bigillion notes during these demo classes to make sure i don’t miss a thing! at the end of each demonstration, team leaders (a sort of group captain for the week) passes around a tasting portion of the dish. above you can see my very first cuisine tasting at cordon blue, a crudité salad that employed many, many knife skills!

11am-11:45am. lunch! time to scarf something down that will hold me ’til half past six. i’m usually munching on something that i made in a practical class the day before.

11:45am-3pm. class again! pastry instead of cuisine this time.

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macarons

pastry demonstrations function the same as cuisine demonstrations and sometimes the chef will make a dish for fun on the side, like these heart macaroons! too sweet.

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macarons

in this particular demonstration, the chef used macaroons from prior classes that week to model how much food coloring we should be putting in our meringue batters. super helpful! (see below to see how mine turned out.)

3:15pm-6:30pm. practical class! recognize the colorful vegetables below from the tasting dish earlier? this was my recreation of the chef’s crudité platter, complete with cabbage, radish, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumber, all specified to different types of cuts. plus a deviled egg! my knife skills have been on a major learning curve since i step foot in this school.

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crudités, mimosa hard boiled eggs

practical classes are different from demonstrations in that i show up in full uniform (apron, hat, and tea towel included), and cook for 2-3 hours. most chefs require dishes to be served on a hot plate within 2 1/2 hours of start time, leaving the final 30 minutes for cleaning. every student has their own workstation, oven, and stovetop, and is required to produce the same dish. it’s pretty intense! the stuff of tv shows.

looking back, the crudité platter was easy compared to some of these other dishes…

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braised beef cheek with honey and lemon fondant carrots, pureed potatoes

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salmon paupiettes, genevoise sauce, crunchy cabbage with ginger

you can see that the salmon paupiettes above have been broken into. in each cuisine practical, chef will taste my dish. this is the ultimate test! during tasting, chef will also take note of my personal hygiene (no apron stains!), how i operated throughout the practical, and how warm my plate is. fun fact: this salmon dish showed up on my final exam!

6:30pm-6:45pm. try and shovel dinner or a snack in before running to the next class!

6:45pm-10pm. pastry practical!

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how’d i do on the macarons? judging from the chef’s macaron gradient, i could’ve used a bit less food coloring. and when piping the macarons out, it’s best not to flick the tip of your pastry bag too far upwards. that’s what makes these guys look a *little* busty.

pastry practicals are a bit different from cuisine as i’m usually on a clock with shorter sprints. for example, the dacquoise cake below required the meringue layers to be baked before i began assembling the buttercream filling or marzipan rose. in my practical for this cake, chef only allowed a specific time frame to bake the meringue layers. if my meringue hadn’t been piped within that time, you wouldn’t be seeing this pretty cake in pictures!

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dacquoise meringue filled with praline buttercream, caramelized almonds, and topped with a marzipan rose

bringing me to the next difference between cuisine and pastry practicals: chefs typically do not taste student’s pastry dishes. why? in most of the pastries, a chef can determine whether an ingredient was missing just by looking at it.

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dacquoise meringue filled with praline buttercream, caramelized almonds, and topped with a marzipan rose

10pm-11pm. get out of my uniform, and head home! after a long day like this, it typically takes me a couple hours to unwind. i head home and eat a late dinner, catch up on some texts, and get to sleep asap. there’s more work to be done in the morning!

my favorite dish to make

bread! i still can’t quit it. after spending the summer before culinary school rolling out baguettes and mixing sourdough starters, i feel even more connected to the bread products i make in school now. my first pain au chocolat was a big hit and i can’t wait to make more!

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in the cuisine realm of things, i enjoy making quiches and stews. the most delicious dish i’ve made in school so far has to be the braised beef cheek dish. see the fancy portrait of that dish above, in contrast with the “how-i-eat-this-at-home” image below. (with a glass of vin rouge of course!)

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braised beef cheek with honey and lemon fondant carrots, pureed potatoes


while every day at cordon bleu isn’t as jam-packed as the day i described above, that schedule is typical of at least half my week. on lighter days, i try my best to catch up on sleep, exercise, blogging, and exploring this city!

and because you made it so far in this article, here’s me (hairnet and all) at my final pastry practical in november! i guess sleep deprivation will make you think anything looks cute.

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springtime charlotte with ladyfingers, almond bavarian cream, fruit mousse, and fresh berries


in this week’s other stuff:

to get back in the french spirit, i’ve got sidney bechet’s si tu vois ma mère on repeat. fun fact! it’s the opening song to midnight in paris.

speaking of food gradients, check out the queen: wright kitchen

west elm is getting trendier by the second

french soulcycle, my latest obsession

post55 // foodstuffs bakery crawl: manhattan

hello people!! i write to you this week with a very exciting post: my first ever bakery crawl!

what’s a bakery crawl you may ask? well for those of you familiar with its drunken cousin, the pub crawl, a bakery crawl functions similarly as an extended time spent hopping around to different bakeries.

on my very first bakery crawl, i visited 10 bakeries. in 1 day. so you better be hungry, because you’re about to watch a whole lot of sweets!


video time! foodstuffs bakery crawl: manhattan


  1. arcade bakery (tribeca) 220 church st, new york, ny 10013, open 8am-4pm mon-fri
    • what i bought: seeded laminated baguette, and lemon sugar brioche
  2. maman (tribeca) 211 w broadway, new york, ny 10013, open 7am-6pm mon-fri and 8am-6pm sat, sun
    • what i bought: chocolate pistachio croissant
  3. dominique ansel bakery (soho) 189 spring st, new york, ny 10012, open 8am-7pm mon-sat and 9am-7pm sun
    • what i bought: dka (dominique’s kouign amann)
  4. mah-ze-dahr (west village) 28 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011, open 7am-6pm mon-fri and 8am-6pm sat, sun
    • what i bought: sadly mah-ze-dahr was closed for a private event but i have tasted their chocolate chip cookie and ice cream before, both delicious!
  5. aux merveilleux de fred (meatpacking) 37 8th ave, new york, ny 10014, open 8am-7:30pm everyday
    • what i bought: “the incredible” a speculoos meringue, covered in whipped cream and white chocolate shavings, and “the wonderful” a meringue with chocolate whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings
  6. momofuku milk bar (chelsea) 220 8th ave, new york, ny 10011, open 8am-11pm mon-thurs and 8am-12am fri-sun
    • what i bought: b’day cake truffles
  7. sullivan street bakery (chelsea) 236 9th ave, new york, ny 10011, open 7am-4pm mon-fri and 8am-4pm sat, sun
    • what i bought: garlic stretchy
  8. breads bakery (union square) 18 east 16th st, new york, ny 10003, open 6:30am-9pm mon-sat and 7:30am-8pm sun
    • what i bought: reverse chocolate chip cookie
  9. zucker bakery (east village) 433 east 9th st, new york, ny 10009, open 8am-6pm mon-fri and 9am-7pm sat, sun
    • what i bought: yin-yang black and white cookie
  10. supermoon bakehouse (lower east side) 120 rivington st, new york, ny 10002, open 8am-5pm everyday
    • what i bought: eggnog cruffin
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breads bakery

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breads bakery

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supermoon bakehouse

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aux merveilleux de fred

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maman

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aux merveilleux de fred

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dominique ansel bakery


and in this week’s other stuff:

my jacket from the video

a stellar west village restaurant you need to try, duck fat tots and all

christmas spiriting!!

that’s all friends! have a happy weekend!