France


I recently visited Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, and I was able to see many of my friends and family members. My family told me, on this trip, that my great grandparents were once the original investors of the Shanghainese restaurant, 录扬村 绿杨村! Phew! All the holiday eating has made me swell in the middle a bit – time to whip out my new year’s resolutions!

Last week, I climbed the stairs up to my 21st floor office after lunch. Surprisingly it didn’t take too long, and I also found that our building was missing several floor numbers. t think I will be doing that every day after lunch! I’m also quite sore today from going on a ski trip yesterday with a group of 30 people. We could see the Great Wall at the ski resort, and I skied down the steepest slope twice! I had excellent coaching from a friend who grew up skiing in Switzerland. I had been stuck at the bunny hop, limited by my lack of boldness, but with some encouragement he saw that I could handle the challenge and I was happy to have succeeded! Maybe this is a sign of a bigger pattern in my life…hmmm.

Oh and actually, there was an even steeper slope available that requires you to sign a waiver before going down haha.

Most recently, a new friend I met presented me with the coolest bag I had ever seen. She happened to have two bags by the designer Jump from Paper. Out of the blue, she says “Do you want one? I have another one. Here, have it.”

It’s a 3-dimensional bag (a.k.a. a real bag) with an image of a 2-dimensional bag. It’s from the Charmer collection, and it’s named “Bonjour!” Looks like I need to take this Taiwanese-designed bag for a walk in Paris :). It’s also perfect for my macbook air!

Take a look yourself: (Below girl is not me!)

http://jumpfrompaper.com/collection/charmer/bonjour/

http://www.thisonegal.com

I have not met Elissa (yet), but have heard great things about her from a good friend of mine. She recently moved to one of my favorite cities in the world, where she was able to meet with some of my favorite people. I highly recommend her witty blog about her experiences in Paris. (And especially since we seem to share the same love for windows)

Our last few days in Paris passed by quickly.

Finally, to celebrate a productive summer, our last Global Skills Training took place as a picnic on Pont des Arts. Our supervisor Frances invited her Parisien friends and we were able to mingle over a very gourmet picnic!

Frances and her interns at Pont neufFrances and her interns at Pont neuf

En plus, as the French would say, our group took one last look at Paris together on a riverboat through the Seine river.  We had a final dinner organized by the interns at La Fondue de Refuges so we can satisfy our craving for more cheesy fondue avec baby bottle wine one last time. This was a week of feasting, since our next meal was going to be rather luxurious.

As grand finale to our summer together, Intrax organized a dinner through Frances’ recommendation. Right next to the Eiffel Tower, we experienced a full multi-course French gourmet meal at Maison Blanche located on the Rue de Montaigne. We had a variety of high quality wine to select from and a menu consisting of dark chocolate coated foie gras, lamb and sole risotto as well as a beautiful chocolate and cream dessert.

The next few days I will be preparing for the coming vacation in London, Belgium, Amsterdam and Croatia before my semester at Bordeaux begins.

Cheers, or shall we say, Chin chin!?

My summer in Paris with Jean-Francois and Olivier at FoodCo is nearing the end.

A typical day of the week consists of waking up at around 7:30 in the morning, getting dressed and going to breakfast at at little after 8:00am. Then I walk to Denfert Rochereau station to catch the metro (RER B) towards St-Remy-Les-Chevreuse. Upon leaving the metro at Le Croix de Berny, I  take the TVM to Montjean where I work.

Once I arrive, I had my own table with a computer where I do my research and compilation of resources. Sometimes we would take trips to Rungis or a supplier. There are times when we have meetings or staff breakfast in the building too. At lunch, we always leave the office to either walk to our nearby Brasserie or the Belle Epine area where we eat at one of the restaurants.

Sometimes, when necessary I would call abroad to the offices of FDA and CBP when they first open their offices at 8:00 a.m. EST. Every week at some point in the afternoon, I would debrief a recent project to Jean-Francois and Olivier. At the end of the day, I leave at 5:00 p.m. and take the metro back home.

Before I finished with FoodCo, I finished a 32-page summary with table of contents for the research I’ve done this summer in addition to several powerpoints created to relay new information.

Jean-Francois and Olivier often guided me by giving me tips and advice on powerful presentations from their experience with working at Bain and Co, a top consulting firm in France. I also learned a lot about regular French products and various cultural differences from our conversations about France and the United States. Both Jean-Francois and Olivier have lived in the United States, so they were able to relate with me about many of the amusing differences and similarities between the cultures, their current events and specific habits of the French.

In order to show you more about Foodco, Olivier and Jean Francois will tell you what Foodco is all about in this video. And I have made a simple video at the office to share with you what I’ve learned.

Car Shopping with FoodCoCar Shopping with FoodCo

Life was back to “normal” the week I returned from Toulon. At work, my company bought a company minivan and we visited Rungis several times to search for better packaging material.

In the middle of the week, Mathilde and I took an afternoon off from our normal dinner routine to relax and people watch with a pitcher of rose at a circle of bustling cafes near the Pantheon. As we walked around the Pantheon – once a church and now a famous burial place – we passed by Le Coup Chou, a restaurant I remember visiting with friends three years ago when I visited Paris for a few days with my highschool French program.

As the end of the week rolled along, everyone dispersed two by two to take advantage of our last weekend in Paris. Carrie and Kinleigh traveled to the nearby country of Luxembourg where they had a weekend of kayaking, intense mountain biking (27 km!) and incredible natural views. Mathilde and Jin took a trip to visit Brussels where Jin’s friends awaited. Haitham and Hibba both had visiting family or friends while Alana and Heather debarked on a trip to Nice and the south of France.

Chris and Escargot

Left in Paris was Chris and I, who wanted to enjoy Paris one last time. Friday night, after a morning of sleeping in and exercise, we met up in the center of the city to go souvenir shopping and enjoy a calm evening in the Latin Quarter. Braving claustrophobia, we sat down for a menu formule and some delicious escargot! Voila, our first dish of snail in Paris, France… fresh from the Seine river (I’m just kidding).

After dinner, we were entertained by some street performances that afternoon as we walked to the metro. I also had to prepare for my adventure the next morning since I had ordered a fast train ticket to join in on one of the excursions with Mathilde and Jin.

Eating at Coq HardiEating at Coq Hardi

Sunday morning, I arranged to meet Mathilde and Jin to join them on their week-end excursion in Lille, France. We walked all over Lille where the center of town is about which is the size of a large university campus. From one corner of town to the other, it takes about 15 minutes of walking. Every restaurant was labeled “Ch’ti”. Charles de Gaul was born in Lille, and we walked on the street where he was born. After visiting the old stock exchange center where men were playing chess among antique book collectors, we ate moule a la meuniere at Coq Hardi as the sun set. Time felt so slow in Lille, so the weekend excursion was incredibly relaxing.

*Bonus video clip of How to eat Moule Meuniere, presented by Jin.*

Hello Everyone,

I have just finished my trip in London and I am staying with Michel and Weixin in Paris for a day before I continue my trip to Belgium, Amsterdam, and Croatia. Michel left me with the following homemade recipe of his delicious pastry pie which I had last time so that I can translate it and share the recipe with the rest of you to get a sense of real French home cooking!

PATE DE CONFIT DE CANARD AUX CEPES
(
Duck Confit and Porcini Mushroom Pastry Pie)

Duck Confit and Porcini Pastry

Ingredients :
1 round feuilletée dough
1 box of twice-cooke confit de conard
300 grams of frozen porcini musrooms or dried porcini to soak.
peanut oil
garlic
parsley
salt
pepper
1 egg yolk

Strip the meat of the cooked duck and remove the skin, bones and fat.
Fry in oil the pre-thawed frozen porcini mushrooms or soaked dried porcini mushrooms with chopped parsley and two cloves of crushed garlic. Salt and pepper lightly.

Heat in the oven at 210°C or 420°F according to the system they use here (thermostat 7)
http://www.cuisine-et-saveur.com/conversion.html

Open the dough and place the duck meat in the middle leaving a 2cm margin on the border of the pastry dough. Place the fried porcinis on top and sprinkle with the juice left over from cooking the porcini.
Mix the egg yolk with a few drops of water. With the help of a brush, brush some egg yolk on the border of the dough. Fold the other part of the pastry dough to make a half moon shape. Join and push on the border with a fork. Place in a pastry dish.

Paint the pastry with the rest of the egg yolk.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. As soon as the pastry is golden brown, remove and cover with aluminum foil and serve.

Having breakfast with my French mother using the teapot my grandfather had sent them from China three years agoHaving breakfast on the front porch with my French mother using the teapot my grandfather had sent them from China three years ago

I love Paris, but nothing can steal my heart from the south of France. My first experiences of France three years ago were with my French host family for five days in Toulon, France during a two-week high school French trip with Minnetonka High School. I’ve kept in touch with them since I left, and this weekend I was able to pay them a visit at their house in the Côte d’Azur!

I cannot emphasize how beautifully this weekend passed by – upon receiving me to their home that night, we had a beautiful midnight summer supper in their garden full of roses, magnolias, and lemon trees. Oh, and an occasional hedgehog or “hérisson”! Their azure swimming pool was lit up with floating bulbs, which we borrowed for our beautiful terrace table. The hot summer night was brimming with the music of “cigales” or cicada and we had chicken, fresh salad, and my French mother’s homemade tiramisu accompanied by some Pierre Hermé macarons I had brought from Paris. (They are the best in Paris – even better than the popular Ladurée – with flavors ranging from Jasmine, Vanilla-olive oil and chocolate passion fruit.) “Life is simple, but good” described my French father Alan, who’s a captain at the port of Marseille for the French Marine.

A summer evening meal in ToulonA summer evening meal in Toulon

Saturday morning, we attended a family funeral in a Catholic church at Aix-en-Provence – and it was very moving to see family and friends mourn the death of a beloved father in the family. Death is universal, and we all feel the pain of loss when someone with whom we’ve shared important memories in our lives passes away.

Escaping the summer heat in St Cyr sur Mer with my French sister and her best friend.Escaping the summer heat in St Cyr sur Mer with my French sister and her best friend.

We returned to rest and have a simple fresh lunch in the garden, and that afternoon my French sister Anne-Charlotte took me along for a visit to her friend’s country house in St Cyr sur Mer.

With a view of the Mediterrean from their home, we took a dip in their ocean-side pool to escape the south summer heat with her friend’s cousins. Each young girl in the family had a small signet ring on their pinkies with their family crest ingraved on it (Brazon de Chevalier) – worn traditionally by French nobility. I believe I was with quite the company this weekend!

Hyere's traditonal flag colors red and yellow are referred to as "Sang et Or" which actually means "Blood and Gold"Hyere’s traditonal flag colors red and yellow are referred to as “Sang et Or” which actually means “Blood and Gold”

That night we had another gorgeous dinner with Normandy cidre and I returned to Paris the next day on the train after visiting the small quaint Italian-style village Hyere with my French family.

A well-needed rest, I’m ready to make strong progress for my two weeks at this internship and hopefully start sending some products through the supply chain to the USA for Foodco!

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