Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Macaron Obsession

As many are aware of, I am obsessed with macarons. So obsessed, that I have been making them over and over, making mistakes and learning tricks until finally, I think I have mastered them. I took a short course at the renowned culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu, where I bombarded the chef with questions about getting the perfect macaron cookie. Being the unselfish macaron lover that I am, I shall share some secrets with you :p

1) Keep the eggwhites in the fridge for at least 48hours.

2) Do not underbeat nor overbeat the eggs whites. The eggwhites will form the meringue which is VITAL to the macaron cookie. It has to be beaten enough so that it doesn't spill when you hold the bowl over your head, and the meringue has to glisten and have a sort of shine. Once it becomes foamy and very light, it means that it has been overbeaten. You can count on starting all over again.

3) Cocoa powder is a major intrusion to the macaron. If you checkout the picture above of the pink macarons in the box, you'll notice that it is very cracked. The reason being, I powdered the cocoa powder on the mixture before putting it into the oven. Any detailing involving cocoa powder must be powdered after the cookies are baked. (Refer to yellow macarons).

4) While adding the meringue to the powdered sugar and almond powder, do it in 2 or 3 times. Fold the meringue gently until it is smooth. Do not overfold.

5) Use a number 11 piping to form the macaron cookie.

6) Liquid coloring from the supermarket can be used, but I must say that it sucks. The color fades with the heat of the oven, and the color isn't as bold as I wanted it to be. (refer to pink macarons). With the suggestion of a friend, I bought powdered coloring from a special patisserie store. (refer to yellow macarons)

7) Humidity plays a very important role. After 8 mins in the oven, I open the oven door to let the humidity out. I do it twice at the 8th and the 10th minute.

8) There is no flour used in macaron making. If you hear of a recipe or a bakery that makes macarons using flour, well, it may be good but it is NOT the real thing!

Voila some secrets of macaron making. I can't let all the secrets out, I must save some so that I can one day open my little Parisian café in Kuala Lumpur :)

Photos (and macarons) by Me

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Les Colonnes de Buren

By far one of my favorite Parisian spots, it is hidden from the tourist path yet sits grand in the heart of Palais Royal. Les Colonnes de Buren (The columns of Buren) is a 3,000 m² sculpture erected by Daniel Buren in 1986, a French conceptual artist. Just like the Jeff Koons exhibition at Versailles, this sparked a debate about integrating modern and contemporary art with France's historical buildings. Personally, I love the old+modern look, it gives a kitschy edge that not just any city can pull off.

This is a perfect spot for picture taking, for taking a rest after a long walk, or to grab a bite of a sandwich perched on one of the columns. There's nothing much to do really, but I find myself coming back just to gaze around and daydream.

This square actually inspired the theme of my Malaysian wedding. This was our Alice In Wonderland/Colonnes de Buren inspired wedding cake!

Photos by Me
Cake photo by Saiful Nang
Metro: Palais Royal

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cours de Yoga Intégral à Goncourt avec Christine

Cours collectif: Samedi et Lundi 10:15-11:45 à 3 rue du Buisson St Louis, 75010
Individuel (pour un suivi personalisé): déplacement à domicile
Cours collectifs: 60€ par carte de 4 cours, 18€ à l'unité
Cours individuel: 50€ à l'unité (cours d'1h), 160€ par carte de 4 cours pour le mois
CHRISTINE CHAUVANCY: +336 89 90 43 20

"Depuis 20 ans, a pratiqué différentes formes de yoga: le viniyoga, des yoga tibétains, le yoga Kundalini et le yoga intégral; mais aussi différentes formes de méditation: la méditation transcendantale, des méditations bouddhistes, ma méditation IAM (Integrated Amma Meditation)."

I started taking yoga in January this year just to try it out, and I LOVE IT. The first class was challenging and despite the deceptive calmness, it was hard. It got easier and easier after awhile, but I still find my body sore the next day. I am completely addicted, and I have finally found an integrated whole body exercise that is not dangerous, tones the body, and builds stamina and flexibility.

I recommend Hatha Yoga to anyone and everyone. It is safe and adaptable to your level, and Christine is very attentive. Any problem with your body must be reported before the class so that she is aware of it, and could adapt poses to your capabilities. The class is conducted in French, but should be of no problem to those who just understand French.

Please call Christine and/or arrive 10 mins before the beginning of class. Yoga mats, cushions, and blankets are available for use.

Metro: République, Goncourt

Monday, March 7, 2011

Parisian Townhouses

Back in the day, what was considered Paris was just the little strip of island that we now call Ile Saint Louis. Everything else that surrounds it was considered the countryside. As Paris grew over the decades and centuries, the 20 arrondissements were formed. This is why today we find townhouses or even villas and bungalows in Paris itself.

They are not common, but can be found in the 20th, 13th, and 18th arrondissements. In the "Parisian villages" you will find old architectural structures usually made from stone, little winded alleys and cobblestone streets. Each townhouse or villa usually comes with a private garage and a garden. What used to be popular and middle class neighborhoods, these areas are now highly prized by the bourgeoisie who flee from what has become very touristic areas to find tranquility and peace in the middle of the city.

I don't suggest tour groups coming here and snapping mass photos, it remains private homes after all. But a little ballad off the beaten path with a loved one won't bother anyone..

Photos by Yamil Gonzalez

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Laila, Hairstylist and Makeup Artist

I am one of those people who has had the same haircut for the past 10 years. I trust NO stylist that costs less than a certain amount, and most of the time I wait for my visits to either Kuala Lumpur or NYC to have a simple trim. I've tried Carita in Paris, its ok, but for €180 a haircut and no English spoken, I rather wait.

All this drama over my hair until I met Laila. Bubbly, blond, super cool and a fellow yogin, she is a professional hairstylist and makeup artist from Los Angeles. She has been in the profession for the past 24 years, and for those who are skeptic of hairstylists that you do not know, fear not. Laila has worked on film sets and post production publicity. HBO movies and shows that she has been involved with include The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood and True Blood. So in terms of experience and exposure, she has got it all!

Back in Los Angeles, Laila had her own salon with about 250 clients. Her husband and herself decided to move to Paris in search of new adventures together, and here she is, my new trusted hairstylist! She is available for house calls or in her apartment in Arts et Metier.

I've always wanted bangs, but with the thin fine hair that I inherited from my mother, I risked looking like Smeagle. Laila coaxed me (gently!) into getting the cut of my dreams, and I have NO REGRETS. She listened to everything that I told her I wanted, and the results were fantastic.
Rates are as follows:
Women: €60
Men: €40
Color: €60-€160
Makeup: €60
House call: additional €25 (for now this fee is waived)
Please call Laila at +336 44 29 54 89 to set up an appointment