Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When the chef coats come off

So - it's not all slaving in the kitchen here at ENSP - we do have some down time - and, when we do, I try to enjoy the local culture.  As most of you know, I'm a total Francophile - so, just living in France is pretty much a dream for me.

Like any French town, there are many boulangeries (bakeries) and patisseries (pastry shops) in Yssingeaux...a creme-filled pastry and a large coffee at one of the local patisseries makes a great breakfast on one of the days that we don't have an early class.

Like most French towns, Yssingeaux has a market - here it is on Thursday mornings.  Although the market is smaller in winter than summer, it's still interesting to check out all the locals doing their shopping - everything from underwear to pots and pans to local cheese to fresh rotisserie chicken.  I picked up some cheese and fruit to have for dinner back at the chateau.

While the chateau is a great place to stay, it can get a little boring on evenings that we don't have class - so, some nights we venture into town to find dinner and to get a taste of the local flavor.  There are only a few restaurants and bars open in town - so, it hasn't taken long for us to try most of them.  There is a small little establishment run by Pierre/Peter that is quite the favorite among the ENSP students.  Pierre is incredibly friendly and welcomes us with open arms - he loves the ENSP students - perhaps because his wife is the administrative assistant of the school's director.  The bar itself is pretty small and doesn't serve food - but, that doesn't really matter, since the ever-accommodating Pierre orders take-out pizza from the restaurant next door - then goes and gets it and brings it back for us to have at his place - NOW THAT'S SERVICE - and who says the French aren't nice people?  In the pictures below you can see Pierre in a hotly contested game of electronic darts with several of my classmates...

In spite of his accommodating nature, Pierre takes the dart game very seriously....

As I mentioned, my younger classmates (which means all of them) find the sleepy town of Yssingeaux a little tame for the last weekend (our first full weekend here) a group decided to take a road trip to Avignon.  Don't ask me how I ended up agreeing to go with 6 girls in one car on a 4 hour trip...but, you know me, I love a party!! It was quite the adventure - 7 of us crammed into a rental car with our classmate Jen driving (who, by the way, is from Australia).  Since I was the only other native English speaker, I was selected to ride in the front with Jen -- it was my job as the navigator to help her with the GPS, the French road signs -- I also had to remind her every once in awhile to stay on the right side of the road, since they drive on the other side in Australia!  Of course it was a true comedy of errors with everyone weighing in on directions -- who needs a GPS when you have 5 backseat drivers - all shouting directions in a different language!  Although it was a short trip, we had a lovely time in the Provencal town of Avignon - home of the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and the oh-so-lovely Chateau Neuf du Pape wines.

Here I am at the Palais des Papes...

Of course, I had to take a minute to try out the toys at the gift shop...I think I look good as a midieval soldier...
...from atop the Palais des Papes, we had a great view of the Rhone River and the famous bridge at Avignon - le Pont d'Avignon.  The Bridge only goes part way across the river...

...and, here I am with my new friends Polly (originally from Hong Kong and now from Calgary Canada) and Jen, our beleagured Australian driver.

So, even though we are working hard in classes, clearly there is time for some fun outside of the kitchen.  The younger crowd has big plans of making a trip each weekend - not so sure I am up for that - I think I might just be a little too old to ride around France with 6 girls - but, I'm certainly glad I went to Avignon with the group.  We'll see what this weekend will bring...


  1. Oh Crystal you can definitely hang with the "younger" girls..... We know you :-) Glad you're having such great experiences and learning so much. Enjoy!!

  2. Hi Crystal, I am Patti's friend from work. I am really enjoy reading your blog. I also love to cook - not so much pastries. This sounds like a great experience.