Posts Tagged ‘galette’

Galette de Rois Returns

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

While often I slap my head and roll my eyes at French processes, procedures and general uselessness, every now and then I really appreciate the French way of doing things. One thing that they do exceptionally well is eat, drink and celebrate as much as possible. Any excuse will do, and they don’t just crack open a few beers and get drunk, they will often invent an entire meal, tradition or delicious layered cake that everyone embraces and enjoys.

The 6 January is Epiphany which apparently celebrates when everyone realised Jesus was God’s son and therefore had a big feast. The French love a good Christian holiday, and celebrate with the Galette de Rois – an amazing puff-pastry round cake filled with frangipane (almond butter.) Every bakery throughout France produces a galette and inside each one is a ‘treasure’ to be found by one of the people eating it. I believe I wrote about this event last year when Ben was still in Paris and we ate two on one day. This year I summoned my friend Jen as my fellow galette consumer. We were to have the galette the day after Epiphany, eat a light soup dinner and then gorge ourselves on butter, sugar, butter, butter and almonds. And more butter.

I purchased the galette from one of Paris’s most prized bakeries and the place considered to sell the best galette in France – Du Pain et Des Idées.

Such a pretty place to buy such a delicious dessert

Such a pretty place to buy such a delicious dessert

It is a gorgeous bakery, not far from my apartment, that sells amazing bread and viennoiseries and is very well known for their pastry. The galettes came in various sizes – I chose le petit which was bigger than my head and really designed for at least four people. At 19 Euros it wasn’t cheap and I hoped it would be worth the money.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH how it was so worth the money. I would go back and spend every last cent I own on these disks of buttery pleasure. Crisp, flaky pastry with the best frangipane filling I have ever tasted. Some frangipane loses its almond quality while in this beast you could still see glints of the almond skins.

By dividing it into eight, it felt like we weren't eating as much!

By dividing it into eight, it felt like we weren’t eating as much!

Jen divided it into eight portions and then, as the youngest guest, I chose who received each portion. I clearly got it wrong as Jen was the winner, discovering a ceramic crocodile inside one of her pieces. La Rein de Galette. And so we ate four pieces of galette each and felt remarkably ok at the end of it. I can feel butter oozing through my pores today and clogging every artery in my body, but if I die from butter-overload I don’t care. It was worth it.

Catching Up

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Gosh, how time flies when you have an approaching deadline. Four days have past since I last wrote which means I have lots of Fun Time Count Down events to tell you about. Let me see if I can remember…

Monday

Tom and I have decided that now we have been living together relatively successfully for almost a year it is time to take things further. We know it is a big step but we feel we are ready. It is time… to buy a Le Creuset pot. PLUS what better time of the year to do it than during the winter sales! For those of you who haven’t discovered of Le Creuset, step out of your restrictive shell and open your eyes to the world of cast iron cookware. They are beautiful, heavy as hell pots that will last you a life time, once you’ve made the investment. Being that they come from the land of the French, they are significantly cheaper in France. Plus with the current 20-30% discounts we’ve been seeing on them at shops throughout Paris, they’re even MORE of a bargain!

Anyway, on Monday Tom and I walked through Paris in search of a bargain pot but were slightly disappointed. Mostly because at one point we decided to go to Galleries Lafayette which is ALWAYS a mistake. I dislike that place with an ever growing passion. It is hot, it is stuffy, it is full of snooty Parisians and tourists. The staff are rude and I’m clearly not rich enough or touristy enough to be worth serving. Anyway, we didn’t end up buying one. But I have since found the exact pot that I want, in red, at a shop near my house. With 30% off the original price. Excellent.

All of this shopping had made me hungry so we had crêpes. I had my usual Nutella, while Tom went all out and ordered a cheese, ham and egg crêpe from the crêperie that claims to have the best crêpes in Paris. They are good, and they’re freaking huge. Tom spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking around like a stuffed duck. Good times.

Crepe

It warmed my hands nicely, but then I ate it.

Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t the greatest day as our friend and fellow Australian who is trying oh-so-hard to stay in Paris next year discovered that her application for a sponsored work visa had been rejected. There were tears, there were profanities directed towards Monsieur Sarkozy and his anti-immigration policies, and there were very early evening drinks at Pip’s bar. There’s still hope for Pip’s visa if she reapplies when she is in Australia (weird French policies about not being able to get a new working visa if she already has one… blah blah blah) but it’s ridiculous really. Anyway, I bought Pip a jasmine flavoured biscuit from a very unique patisserie Tom and I walked past.

Jasmine biscuit

A delicious heart for a broken heart

We also purchased a pistachio galette for ourselves as a “we have to make the most of being in Paris” treat. It did make things slightly better.

Pistachio galette

Mmm... so green.

Wednesday

I have been trying to do some writing and expand my range of writing styles and genres. I figure I should attempt some different forms other than first person narratives about Paris. So I spent the morning attempting to do this, failing mostly but at least I tried. In the afternoon we met some friends for afternoon tea at a café called Rose Bakery. It is very popular in Paris as a BoBo place to be and sells organic and home made food. I had a date slice which was delicious and a long black. The long black was served as an espresso with a jug of hot water. Strange. But it worked.

In the evening Tom and I went and cured my pizza craving at a restaurant on the other side of the canal. Maria Luisa is one of the few places in Paris where you can get a REAL pizza and their toppings are fresh and delicious. The restaurant itself is a bit pretentious, but of the three wait staff who served us, only one was grumpy. A miracle, really.

Pizza

Mmm... pizza... so big it is nearly falling off the table.

Thursday

Thursday was a busy day of washing, shopping and eating lunch with a friend from the Récollets. She is Romanian and made us romanian crêpes which were essentially the same as French crêpes only made by a Romanian. They were gooood. In the afternoon, I went for a walk to burn off my lunch, and attempted to get lost in Paris. Unfortunately I have tried to do this too many times now that I always know where I am. That’s a good thing probably. Anyway, I ended up at the WHSmith bookshop where I purchased three books for under 10 Euros. I was happy. They are all ‘classics’ as I am on a bit of a “I must read must-read books.” So I will soon be literary and knowledgable.

My walk home involved a sprinkling of rain, sunset (well, the sun was going away but it was cloudy so you couldn’t really see much) in the Tuilleries, a sparkling Louvre and turbulent and lively waters of the Seine. It was wonderful. But it also made me realise how much I don’t want to leave this place. But I’ll be back. Just you watch.

Louvre

Sparkly!

BFFs with the Baker

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I forgot to mention a significant event that occurred over the recent galette season that has further solidified my position as loyal customer at my favourite boulangerie. When I went with Ben to buy our second galette for the day and two baguettes for our lunch, we arrived at the boulangerie to find it was jam packed with customers buying sandwiches for their lunches. The queue was reaching out the door and the bakery lady was running around serving people with efficiency and speed. I turned to Ben with a gleeful smile and declared that I would be able to jump the queue and receive my baguettes without having to wait in line. “Watch this.”

The bakery lady continued to serve two or so customers until she noticed me and made a call out across the bakery that anyone wanting to only buy bread should “Advancez!” to the cash register. My moment of glory! I excusez-moi-ed my way past people waiting to be served, held my head high and said “Bonjour!” to the bakery lady. She had already prepared my usual baguette for which I thanked her before then asking for a second baguette. I was nervous about my next request as I had declared that I simply wanted a baguette and that I would be leaving her establishment as soon as I had received it, but really I also wanted to buy another galette. So in my politest and most “You are so wonderful” voice I asked, “What it be possible that I also take a small galette?”
“But, of course!” she replied as she dashed over to the galettes and returned within a split second to take my money and wish me a good day.

Galette

A mini galette to finish off lunch

And so I strode out of the boulangerie, two baguettes and one galette in hand, having avoided waiting in line and being served before at least 15 other customers. I have to say I prefer the relationship I have developed with my bakery lady over the creepy lean-over-the-counter-and-stare-with-seedy-eyes I received on my return to another bakery I have to go to on Sundays or when I am feeling lazy. It appears the man in charge at this other bakery was pleased to have the foreign blonde girl back in his shop.

This does lead me to another point which is that I was instantly aware of my return to the land of Frenchmen as Becky and I headed out on our jog the morning after I got back and were wolf-whistled and had eyes stuck to us like magnets. I can’t say I missed it and it was nice to have two weeks in Germany and Holland where no one seems to find me visually pleasing. Although having fat old Frenchmen declaring that, oh la la!, we are “courageuse” and “sportif” can be quite amusing.

Back to Business With Galette

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Happy 2012 to one and all! My year started with insane Dutch people setting off fireworks in their back/front yards, carparks, petrol stations etc., plus lots of olliebollen, appelbeignets and general consistent eating.

Olliebollen

Mmm... olliebollen.

It is strange to think that I have come back to Paris with the idea of now being able to eat ‘normally’ and hence hopefully return to my original pant size. I have hit one slight set back – La Fête des Rois. Also known as the Epiphany when the three Kings or wise men visited Jesus and gave him birthday presents, the French have taken hold of this great day and turned it into something even greater. Everyone eats galettes – a round puff pastry delight filled with almond paste goodness. OH, IT IS GOOD.

Galette

Galette

Inside the galette, the bakers place a small item (yesterday I was witness to the discovery of a jigsaw puzzle piece, a green cow, and a miniature ScoobyDoo) and when the galette is divided, the person who finds the item in their piece of galette is crowned the King. They then get to wear a crown for the rest of the evening, lucky buggers.

While we had plans yesterday evening to have a galette party with the other residents at the Récollets, as Ben is a budding baker, we went in search of a GOOD galette (as opposed to one from a supermarket) for morning tea. We decided to go to Julhès, a family empire of deliciousness where you can buy bakery goods, wine, cheese, tapenade, foie gras, chocolate, and every other delicious thing you can think of. Ben, Tom and I divided the galette into 12 pieces and then invented a complicated mathematical formula for deciding who received which piece of galette. Ben was the winner with his second piece of galette and wore, with pride, the golden crown.

Galette

Keeping things fair

The second rule of galette is whoever is crowned King is also, therefore, rich and must purchase another galette for his lowly citizens/friends/family. So Ben bought a second (smaller) galette from my favourite boulangerie to have with lunch. As this was a galette for one or two persons, there was no item hidden inside so no one had to buy another galette. HOWEVER, we did then meet my fellow residents in the evening for dinner and galette eating. Almost everyone brought a galette so there were plenty to go around. This time we followed even more traditional methods and the youngest person was sent to sit under the table to call out names of people and select which piece of galette they would eat.

The youngest person at the table was three months younger than me, and as he was quite insistent that I take the honour of sitting on the floor, I spent the next 15 minutes or so calling out names from under the table. What fun! I failed at choosing a winning piece of galette for myself on both the first AND second round of galette distribution. Once everyone had had two pieces, there were still a few kings missing but everyone was a little bit sick of puff pastry and almond so the rest of the galettes were attacked with knives to find the final items. It was a lot of fun and galette is definitely high on my Deliciousness list. The search for the hidden item is highly entertaining and the fact that you’re eating delicious galette instead of looking for a penny inside stodgy plum pudding is definitely an additional benefit.

Things are returning to normal now after the Christmas and New Year’s break. I have just dropped my brother off at the train station and sent him back to England to continue his baking. My plans for today mostly involve cleaning as I still have christmas presents, decorations and general “I’ll deal with this later” items scattered around my apartment. We returned from our two week trip in Germany and Holland with a lot of excess baggage in the form of presents and food. Lots of food. Tom got excited by the price and availability of Jagermeister in Germany, while I went a bit nuts buying chocolate sprinkles and biscuits in Holland. Luckily there’s no such thing as customs when crossing European borders. Ben is currently travelling back to England with a two kilogram bag of flour in his suitcase. That flour has been through Holland, Belgium, France and now England.

I am trying to work out how I can bring everything that is delicious from France to Australia. I have 20 days left in Paris until I get on a plane and fly away home. While everyone around me is telling me how great Australia is and how much fun I am going to have, the whole process of having to get on a plane for 24 hours, have jet lag, fly to and from Sydney, and spend the entire time crossing my fingers that I am allowed a visa isn’t really making me jump for joy. Yes, yes, beaches, sunshine and family. But also a lot to think about and hope that the French government doesn’t think of a stupid reason not to let me come back to France. What will I do then? Plus what cheese am I going to eat in Perth?!

Well this post is getting very long and I have cleaning to do. Spread the word that Zaum is back in action for 2012 with more stories, more adventures and plenty of photographs of food.

Stroop wafel

Like this fresh stroop wafel I ate in Gouda