To compensate for my abensce, I shall now indulge you with tales from the end of Intermediate and my first week of Superior.  Well the exams were so stressful and scary.  We learned the two dishes for Cuisine would be a lamb dish, with sauteed spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and these cute and delicious potatoes that are round since they’ve been scooped out with a melonballer.  You just bring them to a boil then roll them around in melted butter, and finish them in the oven for a few minutes.  This dish was fun and great tasting the first time around so I was really hoping to get it, and I did!  The other dish was a trout dish, which was apparently a total nightmare during the part where you have to pick out all the tiny bones.  But other than it I believe it had a mushroom stuffing.  The final went well though I was a minute or two late.  We also had to make a bearnaise sauce for our technical and hand it in with our dish.  I reduced the vinegar way more than I should have, oops.  The pastry final was a near disaster and apparently I barely passed. One of our best friends didn’t. The selections for the pastry exam hardly seemed fair, one was a tart, a TART! And one was the plaisir cake, totally decent choice, and the douceur, the only one in which we had to temper chocolate.  Also the only one of the choices for which I happened to miss the practical.  The cake seemed to be going okay until the mousse started to separate, and I wasn’t the only one, but we divided the other kids mousses between ourselves.  The sad thing is one of the guys who’s mousse came out well was the one who failed.  The dacquoise base and feiulletine filling went fine, but it must have been the tempering that killed my score.  At least I have the rest of superior to work on it.

So we have been cooking like madmen.  Last week we started with John Dory filets dipped in satay, and I want to say it was turmeric.  Although apparently the satay is made of dried shrimp so even though the sauce smelled unbelievable I couldn’t taste it.  We also used papaya and mango in the recipe, it all looked fantastic.  The demonstrations have become so much more exciting. Watching Clergue and Terrien cook is completely indescribably.  You can’t even take your eyes off of them, and I haven’t dozed off yet during Superior.  Watching Thivet was awful, he would drone on and go on tangents, drain all the fun from it.  But Clergue and Terrien are masters of their craft.  They care so much and their plating is amazing. You learn so many thing in every class.  Deguignet loves to get at me, but so long as I let him mock me I think we’re going to get along okay.  Entering Superior I hated him, really, but then I turned to a source to alleviate my stress and allow for me to form some sort of sympathy or connection to him.  I googled him. And read all about his interest in technology and this database he put together to help chefs categorize and post their recipes.  There wasn’t much else about him, but the only other thing I found was that he was from a family of bakers, and grew up working in his family’s patisserie.  It was enough to make me realize I have to respect him, suck it up, and learn from him no matter what.  Today in class he had plenty of critiques, helpful I will admit, but was the first chef to ask me what my last name was. And say I must have been destined to be a cook. Then he looked at my crumble and said, “Today you are Chef Overcook, eh?” I took the joke and for the first time we laughed together.

So last week we did something to a sea bass that perhaps nobody should ever do. We stuffed it with salmon, hardboiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, then wrapped the whole damn thing in a loaf of bread. We had Clergue for practical and I was so pleased that he was so pleased.  It still takes me forever to filet a fish, but am still much faster than I used to be.  We also made perhaps the most delicious thing thusfar.  A lamb, cooked to perfection garnished with a dallop of this mix: brunoised ham, mushrooms, and onions and a sauce to give it a creamy texture.  We made jus, purple potato chips (did you know there were purple potatoes?), and little bunches of green beans wrapped in bacon. Seriously serious.

In other news, one of our best friends Greg returned home to Manila and is postponing Superior til later. Hopefully I’ll see him again before I go though.  This weekend we have a three dayer so we’re trying to throw together a trip to Brussels, and I really hope it goes through.  Maybe I can get some feedback here from you dear readers. I had this fantasty last night of opening a restaurant in which people could hunt before dinner. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to have cows, but it would be like a Jurassic Park type thing with its own ecosystem going on in the back of the restaurant.  Plus all the animals could be grassfed and it could operate like a farm.  It would probably have to start as a farm anyway since the costs of opening a farm and restaurant simultaneously would be, well, costly.  Thoughts?

Red-lentil cumin burgers for dinner:  Try em, they’re healthy, and ridiculously tasty.