Every year, I take the week of my birthday off to travel. I then spend the next 358 days getting excited for the next trip. I say this every year, but the trip this year my favorite. We spent 4 days in Paris, 3 days in Rome and a day in Florence... how could this not be my favorite? The minute I booked the trip, I immediately started looking for a cooking class to take. You'd think that being around cooking classes every day that I would want to do something else on vacation, but there's something about cooking in another country that really gives you an appreciation for the culture.
By the time I got to Le Foodist, I had already eaten 8 croissants (that might be conservative, actually), so I considered myself a connoisseur. The kitchen downstairs looks like the quintessential white brick French kitchen that you see in movies and magazines, so I felt like anything coming out of this kitchen would have to taste good! Making croissants is an all day project if you do it from start to finish because the dough needs to chill after each step of the process. Luckily our instructor, Amanda, broke down the steps for us so we got to work on each step without all the waiting. We began by learning how to make the dough. Then we moved on to the folding, rolling, shaping, lamination and baking. Did you know that if a croissant is curved (think crescent shaped) that it's made with margarine? If it’s straight it's made with real butter. I know, my mind was blown, too!
I always thought that pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) had nutella or chocolate chips in them. Nope, they actually have sticks of chocolate. I disagree with the French thought that it's one stick per croissant though. You definitely need 3 to 4, in my opinion.
I knew croissants were buttery in nature, but I had no concept of exactly how much butter goes in them. It's a lot. We literally had to pound out pounds of butter to be folded into the dough to start the lamination process. I was really happy I ate all those croissants before I found all this out!
Most French bakeries only have a few dozen croissants per day because of how labor intensive they are, so make sure you get out of bed early to find the best. There’s nothing like a little people watching and croissant eating to start the day!
I left Le Foodist with a new appreciation for the artistry of true French pastries and a box full of croissants which were promptly consumed within 12 hours (it's considered acceptable when you're walking 11 miles daily, right?). I have to admit, they looked pretty perfect!
I'm looking forward next year's birthday trip wherever it takes us, and hopeful that it involves another cooking class. We have a number of pastry and baking classes coming up that don’t require a trip to Europe in case Paris seems a bit far.
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