May 2010


Well things have been eventful to say the least.  Monday morning we had our chocolate exam. And I planned to do this elaborate decoration on top of the chocolate box of palm trees, some waves, an island with an empty boat, and circling sharks.  As it turns out I bit off more than I could chew and will be lucky if I pass pastry at this point.  While demolding the chocolate box a huge crack formed in the top and the whole thing fell apart.  I didn’t know what to do, after all this never happened with the others I made.  So I tried to make another one, but my chocolate in my bowl was super hard by this point as my decorations were all done, so I got some from a neighboring ban marie, and it was too hot.  After three coats and some time in the fridge it hadn’t set.  I only had 30 minutes to make this new one.  So the chef told me to turn in just my life and my decoration. It was brutal.  I actually can’t even recall what it looked like anymore, I think I went into shock shortly after the practical.  It fell so completely short of what I wanted to do and only in the final forty minutes did I realize there was no way I could have pulled off what I intended to, and should have just made a few goddamn balls and sticks like we had been taught to do.  All I can say is that I will keep working as hard as I can to compensate and only hope the sugar final goes well or I’m never going to pass.

In cuisine we made a duck breast with some sweetish sauce, glazed daikon radish turned like UFOs, carrot and cumin puree (fucking delicious), some potato cake thing, and apricot chutney. It was pretty good overall, at least I cooked the meat well. My sauce was a little too reduced.  Today in cuisine we also received the list for the final, it’s going to be fun.

follow that link if you want to see the ingredients we can use.

In other news, my friend Kate is coming tomorrow, that should be interesting.  So not smoking sucks and is hard I pretty much want to kill everyone including myself.  But I love coming home and it not smelling like smoke, love love love it. I think that’s the reason I have been able to stay off it.  It’s also nice not to have a sore throat all the time. Breathing is cool.

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Well, a Happy Mother’s Day to you mom.  Thank you for everything. I look around my life and couldn’t make up a better one if I wanted to.  I hope you have a wonderful day, and can’t wait to see my family again in June.  My gift to you: I know you know I was trying to quit smoking, but I was never able to. And up to about 15 cigarettes a day. But as of yesterday I’m done, seriously. I threw out my ashtray, lighters, and a mostly full pack. Cleaned the apartment and moved all the furniture to dissociate myself from previous Paris thinking.  Not easy, but over. I love you, call me when you get up.

So yesterday we had burrito night at Joanna’s. It was a great turnout. Fish, chicken, and steak tacos. A completely ridiculous amounts of guacamole, and tequila, jeez.  I have no idea how some survived to go salsa dancing after the party, as I dragged myself home and fell asleep.

Today I went back to Jo’s with the intention of helping her clean, but by the time I got there it was mostly done, and I just fell asleep on her couch.  Afterwards I went looking for a track, with the intention of running, but both of the ones I went to were closed.  So I turned it into a longer ride, it was nice to be able to breathe deeply.

So my Internet was out for a week or two there, but here’s what you missed.  The second atelier is over. For the starter I did a ginger panna cotta, a salad of artichokes and spring onions with an arugula vinaigrette, and filet of sea bream on white asparagus with pancetta cream sauce.  I was happier with this than even the main dish.  The panna cotta, I was so worried wouldn’t turn out but it was great after 15 minutes in the blast freezer. The ginger really came through, the chef advised to lighten it by using half cream and half milk next time.  I poached the fish but overcooked it by probably a minute.  The pancetta sauce was friggin good, and worked well with the fish.  The vinaigrette was another nice surprise I haven’t done before, but would definitely make again. Super color, and super easy.  The main dish went well except for the stupid flan, which completely fell apart.  The chef’s guess was that beets have too much water in them, and that I ought to have used more eggs.  I was so disappointed because the color was so pretty.  Also made veal tenderloin, veal sweetbread wontons, sauteed spinach, and curried cauliflower puree.  I was pretty happy with all of those except the puree, which on recollection I maybe didn’t strain, and the consistency was a little weird.  I would use more curry next time too, and perhaps roast the cauliflower with it.

Since then we’ve done some other cool things, a roast beef tenderloin, beet and daikon brochettes, phyllo stuffed with potatoes. Fish crusted with croutons, honey glazed chicken wings.  We had Napoleon the other day and made guinea fowl with lemongrass sauce, mushroom stuffed mushrooms, and guinea fowl meatballs with chorizo.  The chef saw someone put a piece of chorizo in their mouth, and warned them it was super spicy.  Haha. It was so not spicy.

Yesterday we went to Rungis with the whole class.  We got a tour of the “biggest market in the world” (except Japan’s fish market).  We went through the meat section, and there were hundreds of cows hanging up, lambs too. The weird thing was it didn’t smell really at all. It was 4 degrees in there, and we all had to wear these white coats and hats over our top coats. We went through the vegetables and fruits area and saw some seriously beautiful produce.  Unbelievable.  Everything from tiny eggplants to baby asparagus that were as thin as stalks of wheat, and wild strawberries.  Lastly we went through the flower area, and there was a huge variety. Silvana couldn’t resist and purchased some right there.  I guess only restaurants and suppliers can come purchase things at this market. It is sprawling. Funnily enough it was the exact same place I once got lost on my bike and ended up on the freeway.

In pastry we have had a couple of chocolate practicals recently. It’s like we all just showed up one day and knew how to temper chocolate, and I certainly didn’t at the end of intermediate.  Monday is our final for chocolate and I’m going to try to do a stranded island scene.  Maybe a couple palm trees, a wave, some rocks, with a boat.  Gonna have to use some blue powder for the water I think and the chef hates blue for some reason. Even though today he spent 3 hrs in near silence making us watch him make this flower thing using blue, black, and grey. As long as everything is well tempered I dunno what he can say to me.  I’m a hundred percent positive he’ll come up with something though.  My other idea was to do a chocolate version of starry, starry night, which would require some blue too.  I think the island will be cooler though. More soon.