This past year was a tumble. A dive that started – what felt like – a few seconds ago. Possibly with a busy sunday lunch at the restaurant, with only Guillaume and I doing service.
And to be honest we had no clue about how this whole restaurant thing worked. I remember our first ice-cream quenelles. I remember making way too much mise-en-place because we were so terrified we would run out during service. I remember the long hours.
But mostly I remember how happy I was. And certainly, how happy I am when I realise that I can handle a busy service, or organise my section, or even when I highlight the words from my prep list – meaning it’s been made.
So yes, 2010 was a good year. With laughs and tears, and more laughs. With perfect quenelles, and trust me when I say it’s all about the quenelle. With delicious food and delicious people.
I fell in and out of love twice. I fell in love with my job. And I fell in love with the most amazing people who make my days seem like a dream.
Namely, head-chef Richard Hondier, sous-chef James Mitchell, and my very own petit-pois or ecureuil sauvage – depending on my mood – Jack Walker, the apprentice.
Because in the end, there is no such thing as being surrounded by people who are passionate and push you out from your comfort zone, instead of being carrier-driven.
Now, I wish I had had the time to take more pictures of some of my very favourite desserts – mostly created for the set lunch menus – but service is fast and at times, brutal. A bit like being hit by a wave.
So instead, I’ll share my favourite experiments, because this is what I feel like doing at home now. Experiment, fail or not.
A beetroot cake. Possibly one of the best things that ever got out from oven. It was moist and fragrant. The perfect support of a rich cream-cheese frosting or a long afternoon of writing.
The cocoa brownies. My favourite discovery of this past year. Brownies that are chewy all the way through. And so easy to make, you’ll be able to have them for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.
The avocado macarons. The recipe hasn’t been written yet, but those macarons were delicious. And not only because I’ve finally found the right settings on our oven for them to come out perfect, each and every time.
A rhubarb entremet. Made in early spring. With the people I care the most about. My grand-father went for a second serving and this, my friends, is a sign.
The little matcha brioches. Matcha might be an acquired taste to some, but for me it is the absolute favourite. And those cute brioches were simply delicious.
A lemon cake. This one was made and remade a greater number of times than I dare to admit. Everybody seems to love it. This is why I always have one in my freezer, just in case.
Looking backs at my recipes inevitably brings back memories.
Hours spent sat at the brasserie just below my old flat, writing the very beginning of a pastry book, while the snow was on its way.
Hours spent at the restaurant, working hard and playing harder. Filling the pages of my moleskine notebook with ideas for the desserts and afternoon teas.
Hours spent chatting with my friends Violet and Janelle, whose support I cannot be thankful enough for.
Hours spent trying to understand how to set up a business in London. Saving every penny you very genereously gave me to, one day, make my dream come true. And trust me, you’ll be the first to know when that happens.
This year, I have few resolutions. The main one is to focus and unclustter.
I will finish to write my book. I will learn ever and forever more. I will eat out as much as I possibly can afford it. I will learn Japanese. I will create a work portfolio. I will slow down at times.
And, because I feel like starting everything over again, I will stop writing here. Only to find a better place, which hopefully you will like as much as I do.
So while I’m drifting ashore on my little boat, I wish you all a happy new year. See you soon, on a new island.