Sunday, February 28, 2010

The St. Andy's Makeover

Of the five CIA restaurant/cafes, St. Andrew's Cafe has always been the odd one out. The original concept - healthy cuisine - did not excite much enthusiasm. I ate there a year and a half ago, and while the food and service were excellent, the whole atmosphere felt stale and outdated, and the menu tried way too hard to be low fat and low salt and all those stupid oh-so-90's whims.

No more! Over the past six months the school has entirely revamped the place and jumped on the latest bandwagon - farm to table. The Hudson Valley is prime real estate for local eating, so it was only a matter of time before something at the school went local.

Some of my friends and I ate there on Friday night. Since we can use our swipe cards at St. Andy's, a $30 value meal was just $8, already paid for.

From what I heard, over 90% of the ingredients are locally sourced. Flours, cornmeal and whole grains come from Wild Hive Farm, milk products and superb butter from Ronnybrook, vinegars from a local monastary, and the grassfed beef, wild fish, poultry, pork and other meats, fruits and vegetables and cheeses, are all local. The students dry, can, pickle and otherwise preserve all the local goodness for winter months, so we can eat dried raspberries in February and pickled onions and peppers in the snow.

On Friday I ate delicious Sprout Creek Farm goat cheese tortellini on a bed of shredded Hudson Valley duck leg confit with wilted greens. Main course was a fillet of wild brook trout, perfectly cooked with nice crisp skin on a bed of buttery wheat berries, apples, pecans and brown butter. The instructors and students have done a wonderful job turning this place around - I certainly look forward to eating there more often. And thank goodness they have brought butter back!

P.S. Happy Birthday Dad!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make this for dinner

I'm not really a pasta person (not anymore, at least), but some things are just too good to pass up. And I would make an exception for a big bowl of this: toothsome strands of fresh pasta, entangled in a mess of lemony roasted artichokes, seared oyster mushrooms and crispy shallots, all glossed with a brown butter-lemon beurre blanc and topped with fresh herbs, grated parmesan and a bit of lemon zest.

This was the vegetarian option for today's menu. The sauce was Sarah's idea, and a killer one at that!

Here is the recipe. It's fairly straightforward - just prep your vegetables while the pasta is resting, and keep an eye on that sauce.

The pasta:
Incorporate 4 eggs into 1# flour; adjust with more flour or egg as necessary. Knead. It should be firm but smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest for one hour. Roll out to one millimeter thick and cut into 1/4 inch strands. Toss with flour so it doesn't stick.

The vegetables:
Roasted Artichokes
Prepare some artichokes: cut the top inch off. Peel the outer leaves until you reach the pale green ones. Pare down the base and stem until the artichoke is evenly yellow/pale green. Cut in half lengthwise, scrape out the choke, then slice into eighths. Dress with olive oil and lemon, season heavily. Roast at 400* until the outside is crispy and the insides are tender.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Clean and slice your choice of mushrooms: cremini or buttons, chanterelles, oyster (our shroom of choice for this dish), or whichever ones you last saw growing out in the cow pasture (just kidding...) Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add a small amount of oil and heat until it is just starting to smoke. Saute the mushrooms in batches - it is very important that you don't crowd them or they will sweat water and steam. Season with salt and pepper.

Crispy Shallots
Slice shallots thinly and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast at 400* until brown and crispy.

The sauce (a modified beurre blanc):
Brown 1/4 # of butter (cook until the milk solids turn dark brown and fragrant; strain). In a saucepan, reduce the juice of two lemons and some white wine until it is thick and syrupy. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and reduce slightly. While whisking, add cubes of cold butter (a total of 1/4 - 1/2#) alternating with the brown butter. Keep over low or no heat during this time so it doesn't overheat and separate. Season to taste.

Put it all together:
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 30-60 seconds (taste it! it should taste and feel cooked, but not mushy). Drain and put in a saucepan with the hot vegetables. Ladle the sauce in (as much as you need) and toss. Add minced fresh herbs if you have them - parsley and tarragon are nice - and top with grated parmesan and lemon zest.

Hope you like it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Drowned Rat Effect

Avoid it at all costs. This includes not trekking two miles through the woods in 12 inch snow in the rain and sleet to go sledding all by yourself, then having to hike all the way back, soaking head to toe (and more) and legs aching.

Only I am stupid enough to do this.

Most importantly - don't go sledding alone, since it's not any fun.
Neither is trudging through that much snow after you rode a horse the day before for the first time in ages and your legs are already sore.

But at least it was a good workout!

My team in Banquets made spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with a creamy tomato sauce, garnished with chanterelles and served with sauteed brussel sprout leaves. It was an alright day, considering we walked into the kitchen blind with little knowledge of the layout or what we would find in the fridge to make our dish from (this was the vegetarian alternative). The regular menu consisted of butternut squash and leek soup, braised duck leg with roasted shallot mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon, and glazed carrots, and butterscotch pudding for dessert. As you can see, the foods in this class are very simple but work well in a banquet setting.

Well, it's almost Friday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a snow day tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back in the Saddle!

It's been far too long since I last rode a horse. Except once or twice this winter and a couple times in the fall and spring when I was home, I have been a sorry, horse deprived person.

But today I took the first of what I hope will become weekly riding lessons, at The Southlands Foundation. Just fifteen minutes from school, this impressive facility (200 acres! heated indoor arena! miles of riding trails!) houses over 60 horses and teaches lessons to many, including the Vassar Equestrian team.

My classmate and friend, Sarah, aspires to be a jockey (in the off chance that cooking doesn't work out...), but had never ridden a horse until today. In just 30 minutes, she went from being led awkwardly at a walk, to trotting and posting on the lunge line. Very impressive! I walked, trotted and cantered, but I'm definitely not used to it - sore butt tomorrow, for sure!

Our horse was Russell, a sweet old Paint. A little sluggish (no different than what I'm used to, considering Cheerio!) but perfectly behaved. Actually, I really like lazy horses - they're much less stressful to ride.

Today was the final day for front-of-house in Banquets. It was a great last day - I felt very confident talking to my tables, and didn't do anything foolish or embarrass myself. Don't tell anyone, but I even had to turn down a couple tip offers! And I didn't drop any plates or glasses the whole time! The class's total plate count for these seven days was probably around 30, give or take a dozen.

Next? The Banquets kitchen. We'll be cooking for 120. Wish us luck...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm Jealous

The crocuses are all blooming - back home on Vashon.
Here? Four inches of snow and counting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Comeback Cow

Yippee! Spring is just around the corner - one month, to be exact. And today is a decidedly spring-like day, warm (43 degrees!) and sunny and the birds are out. Of course snow is still on the ground and not one speck of new green is to be found (I looked carefully - no crocuses or forsythia), but it looks promising.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with my life upon graduation in June. Unlike most students here, I will not be looking for a restaurant job - been there, done that, and it's not my idea of fun. So I think it's time to start up the Creamery again and continue teaching cheesemaking classes.

I did this back in 2008. The class, Cheesemaking: From Cow to Curd, was six hours long. Participants learned what really goes into making dairy products through a hands-on class that started with the cow and ended in a bountiful, dairy-laden feast. Each class consisted of six to eight people. We would start off by milking Lil, my Jersey cow, and then carry the warm milk back to the house. Using a total of eight gallons of milk, I would go through the processes of skimming cream, culturing milk, making butter and buttermilk, fresh mozzarella, a basic cheddar-style pressed cheese, ricotta, fromage blanc, and yogurt. While we waited for the milk to culture, students could sample the freshly made cultured raw butter and aged cheeses from past classes. After stretching the mozzarella and packing the cheddar curds into the mold, we would all sit down for lunch - which went something like this: backyard salad greens with olive-oil and rosemary aged feta, platters of still-warm mozzarella layered with basil and our neighbor's tomatoes and pools of excellent olive oil, herb and garlic fromage blanc, and fresh mascarpone on walnut bread. The main event might be ricotta gnudi with brown butter, butternut squash, currants and pinenuts, or homemade pappardelle with mushrooms foraged by yours truly and ridiculous amounts of Lil's golden cream (among other things). My favorite dessert was a meyer lemon mascarpone ice cream. Wine and raw milk were the libations of choice - of course!

So Vashon, prepare yourself. The cows are coming home to Fort Bantam Creamery.

P.S. I already have a waiting list for classes. If you're interested, send an email to

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm a Waitress!

For all of four days now...

Banquets and Catering: new class, new anxiety!

This is the class that introduces everyone to the art of serving. Only seven days long, it builds a solid foundation for the future when we work our way through the CIA's esteemed restaurants. Everyone will eventually work in two of the four restaurants - three weeks in each kitchen, three weeks each in the front of house.

Halfway through this block our class will swap with the other AM class. Right now that group is in the Banquets kitchen, cooking the food that we are serving. Come Thursday, we'll be in the kitchen.

For now, though, our class is in charge of serving lunch to a room of fellow students (75-90 each day). It's a banquet-style affair, which means everyone is seated at the same time and served the same three-course menu.

"Class" is quite a bit different than in the kitchens. We arrive at 7:30 AM, have lecture until 9:00, then set up until 10:30. We usually use 15 tables - each seats six. Table cloths go down, then napkins (a different fold each day), then place settings for all three courses (remember, it's a banquet). Glasses are iced and watered, butter dishes are set out. The pantry person takes care of all the drinks. Iced tea, coffee, and the special drink of the day are offered from the get-go, then hot tea, espresso, and cappuccinos with dessert. Today's drink consisted of pomegranate juice with a splash of cranberry and yuzu juice, topped with Pellegrino and a cucumber slice. Very tasty.

At 11:30 the doors open and the maitre d' greets the guests. He/she sends them to a table with one of the waiters, who seats them. At that point the table's own waiter takes over. He/she greets them, describes the menu, and takes drink orders. After dropping the drink ticket off at pantry, bread is served to the table. The bread - various rolls and slices from our bakeshop neighbors - is in a basket, and we serve it to each guest in turn with a spoon and fork (used like tongs). This definitely requires skill!

Then it is time to serve drinks. Depending on the drink, some days are more or less nerve-wracking. If the pantry guy is feeling particularly cruel, he will compose a drink in champagne flutes. Or martini glasses. You would never think about the logistics of a glass until it's your turn to carry a tray of them across the room in your left hand and then serve them to guests. All it takes is a little tilt and the whole bunch goes down. You just have to hope they land on the floor, and not on someone. Trust me - I've seen it many times! It's particularly sad when the drink is bright red and cascades over a lady's head and down her dress. Most classes keep a running total of downed plates and glasses.

The back waiters run the food from the kitchen down the hall to the dining room. Appetizers and desserts are all right, since they fit in a single layer on one tray and aren't too heavy, but carrying the entrees makes me wish I still went to the gym. Once the tray is set down on a stand in the dining room, the front waiters serve each table.

The whole routine is surprisingly simple, so long as drink orders are remembered and trays are safely transported and nothing too embarrassing happens. But I have a lot to learn and practice, and there's no telling whose tray that next rogue champagne flute will be on. Not mine - please!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Yum. I just got back from eating dinner at one of my favorite kitchens: Cuisines of the Americas with Chef "Wild Bill" Phillips. Today and tomorrow are focused on foods of the Midwest, which meant the trout for me. Fillets of trout are coated in cormeal and panfried, then served with wild rice, glazed carrots, sauteed hen of the woods mushrooms and a wonderful butternut squash puree.

I was set to write a nice long post all about my new class, but I suddenly got really, really exhausted. I apologize profusely! Tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blame it on the snow...

Wednesday was the first day of France, and a horrible one at that. From start to finish, nothing went right. We had been lulled into a sense of security by the first two and a half weeks, and then a cruel twist of fate took us down.... The day started off as usual, though it was snowing – heavily and worsening by the minute - and so the school decided to close everything down at noon. This meant we would have to be out of class 90 minutes earlier than normal, and subsequently service would start at 10:30 instead of noon. It’s not easy making food appear in an instant.

Jason and I were on the scallop station: seared scallops with beurre blanc and fines herbs, sautéed brussel sprout leaves and gratin dauphinois (potato gratin). Delicious food, yet a pain in the butt to make! The scallops are seared to order – five each – in a super hot pan with clarified butter. When the pan is just right, they develop that wonderful crust and silky, barely-opaque middle. The pan is deglazed, then swirled with a ladleful of beurre blanc. This “white butter” sauce is simple in theory, onerous to execute, but so good to slurp down with scallops. White wine, champagne vinegar, shallots and peppercorns are cooked down to a syrup, then butter – pounds of it, cubed and cold – are whisked in one-by-one. The butter is emulsified into the liquid, producing a thick, luscious sauce that’s acidic and flavorful and so buttery that I wish I could live off it - if only it weren’t so tricky to make. If the sauce gets too hot or too cold, it separates. Too much butter, or added too fast, and oil puddles on top. Too much liquid, and it loses all body. I made at least ten batches of beurre blanc over the three days due to separation and other ailments.

The brussel sprout leaves were also sautéed to order, but were a little more forgiving than the scallops. At least the potatoes were already cooked and ready to go at service – just scoop and serve.

This is definitely the most challenging dish I’ve made in school (when service is taken into account). On Wednesday and Thursday we sold about one dish per minute. On Friday, the last day, we sold 26 in fifteen minutes.

I honestly don’t know how we served that first day, considering that at 10:20 we were standing around like idiots with nothing set up, our scallops still in a big bowl (they needed to be blotted dry, then laid out in rows of five on trays), no demo plate up, and no clue as to how we would work during service. I fleetingly hoped that because of the snow, no one would show up. Quite the contrary. Students love to stock up on food when there is no foreseeable dinner on the horizon. So the doors opened and the hoards descended … on the scallops. Jason plated while I seared and sautéed as fast as I could. We had an embarrassingly long line waiting for our food (we hadn’t started cooking the first round far enough in advance before the doors opened). I would have one or two pans going with brussel sprouts – tossing and seasoning them, dumping them in a bowl to pass to Jason – seasoning scallops and placing them down in screaming hot oil (which splattered and painfully tickled my hands), starting with the largest ones and ending with the smallest so they all finish at the same time, flipping them with my bare hands and a fish spatula, then transferring them to the resting rack and passing them to Jason, pouring out the excess oil and deglazing with a ladle of water, then pouring in beurre blanc and a few pieces of butter, swirling it to emulsify, then finishing with a pinch of minced fines herbs (tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil). When I got it right, everything was perfectly in synch. Just when Jason finished plating one round I would pass him the components for the next, and I would already have another batch working. For a split second I wickedly thought how fun it was – when my scallops looked beautiful and the sauce was cooperating and I was keeping up with Jason – and of course the next moment I looked up and saw the line and choked. But we made it, and the next two days were much better. Actually, our last day was just great, and the (perfect!!!) score on my final quiz was the ultimate morale booster.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

...Gone sleddin'

Sorry to all my die hard fans - but I'll be away for the weekend (back Tuesday for the new block of classes).

Hopefully I will have lots of great snow-filled adventures to share.

And don't worry, because I will tell all about these last action-packed days of France - scallops! beurre blanc! horror and disaster! ...stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This little piggy was yummy

I suppose there are as many types of porchetta in this world as there are stuffed and roasted pigs. Ours was nothing like Salumi's, but that's not a bad thing. It was just different. However, I was saddened by the leathery skin - it is to be expected, but I was hoping for something crispy-salty and edible. We carved the pig into thick slices, revealing the mosaic of pork inside. Very tasty, especially the nice fatty bites, but just not the same. Sorry Chef G, I'm still hankering for Salumi's porchetta...

Here are the before shots (courtesy of Natalie):

Pig slug indeed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And the winner is...

Chef James Kent!

His platter just happened to be the one I photographed (and posted below).


Crepes and Pigs

Superbowl party and crepes? Only at the CIA....
But don't despair, because we also had chili and cornbread like every other normal American. Only ours wasn't just average. Made in a cast iron pot with local venison (Quattro's) and some Kozak family dry-aged grassfed beef top round, plenty of spice from roasted chilies and simmered for hours, we ate it with wedges of golden cornbread hot from the cast iron and slathered in butter.

The crepes were only the prelude. I've never made buckwheat crepes before, and they're a tricky thing - super delicate from the absence of gluten in the flour, so flipping them requires skill - but once you get that down, they start to look pretty and taste even better. The innards of choice were sauteed diced apples with butter, sugar, and brandy, and mounds of whipped cream. I can't wait to do savory ones with Gruyere and ham and maybe a fried egg.
Or nutella?

In place of lecture today we all trekked down to the Meat Room for a porchetta demo. I think there are two camps in this world - those who see or hear "porchetta" and wonder what the heck it is, and those who start frothing at the mouth and whimper and swoon, overcome by the (always too distant) memory of an authentic Salumi porchetta sandwich.

The porchetta itself - braised pork shoulder and sausage, somehow melded into one joyous porcine potpourri - is smothered in onions and peppers and melted provolone (the Salumi sandwich makers scowl if you order cheese, but it only makes it that much better). The bread, warm and crusty, is drizzled with a roasted garlic/parsley/olive oil mix so good but totally proprietary. Grrr. Fortunately I can eat there every time I visit my dad at work in Seattle - he's literally two blocks away.

Back to school...
Chef Kamen went from normal (but dead) baby pig to a completely boned carcass in 20 minutes, tops. Every single bone was taken out, save for the tail and head. Back upstairs Chef G ground the trimmings along with some pancetta, breadcrumbs, fennel fronds and rosemary, lemon zest, and cooked onion and garlic. This was spread a half inch thick inside the pig, then topped with chunks of meat from the legs. She rolled it up and sewed it shut, rubbed it with oil and rosemary, and stuck it in the fridge for tomorrow. The completed pig was quite a looker - a "pig slug" if you will. Gross, but so true!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Bocuse d'Or

Thursday and Friday were both good days, though I'm happy it's the weekend.

We're already halfway through Italy, and I didn't even talk about the tapas yet! How dare I. Well, we had chicken chilindron - a hearty chicken stew with serrano ham and brandy served on little grilled toasts. Tortilla Espanola is the classic Spanish potato, onion and egg omelet, simple and satisyfing. I was particularly fond of the piquillo peppers, stuffed with creamy salt cod, and the baby squid, stuffed with serrano, peppers, onions, and breadcrumbs, then simmered in squid ink sauce. Scary to look at, yes, but quite yummy. Serrano was used once again in a super-thick bechamel sauce, breaded and deep-fried into crispy, creamy mouthfuls. Marcona almonds were also deep-fried, then tossed with sweet pimenton (smoked paprika), sugar, salt, and thin slices of Spanish chorizo. Salty, sweet, spicy, fatty and addictive!

But we are on to Italy now, and the food is scrumptious but a little too starch-laden for my tastes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how much pasta we're serving - it is Italy after all - but I long for some vegetables and meat.

The main dishes are:
tortelli filled with fresh ricotta and greens, sauced with brown butter, toasted walnuts, and fried sage; potato gnocchi with broccoli rabe and braised duck ragu; butternut squash and pancetta risotto; Pasta a la Norma (penne with caramelized onion, roasted eggplant, and tomato sauce with ricotta salata); and fettucini Bolognese - fresh spinach fettucini with a ragu of veal, pork, beef, and chicken livers, topped with a dollop of fresh ricotta.

Erica and I are the pizza team, cranking out a couple dozen thin crusted pizzas with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella (stretched in class, but not made completely from scratch, unfortunately), and basil. I also made piadina, a flatbread made with duck fat that's rolled very thin and grilled. We spread them with ricotta and sliced artichokes while they were still on the fire, letting the cheese go all warm and soft. Mmm.

Today was the day of the Bocuse d'Or USA Finals. Twelve chefs compete for the esteemed spot in the 2011 World competition in Lyon, France. Each chef has three hours of prep time the first day (Friday), then three hours today to complete and present two platters - fish and meat. The judges - 16 of some of the country's and world's finest - view the platters as they're walked by. The food is then disassembled onto individual plates for the judges to taste.

The kitchens, judges' table, and audience

The individual kitchens for the contestants. Four chefs competed at once.

A platter - salmon and caviar

Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin, and Top Chef Masters hostess Kelly Choi

Thomas Keller inspects a tasting

Jerome Bocuse, son of Bocuse d'Or founder Paul Bocuse

Grant Achatz, Alinea

Susan Spicer (Herbsaint), Laurent Tourondel (BLT restaurants), Alan Wong (Alan Wong's)

Chefs viewing a platter

Daniel Boulud (Daniel) and CIA president Tim Ryan

Jim Burke (James), racing to finish
Unfortunately he didn't

Paul Liebrant (second from left), Corton

Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere), Perrier, Andre Soltner (Lutece), Spicer, Tourondel, and Wong

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Longwood Gardens

It's time for some flower photos.

These were taken last year in early May at one of my favorite places in the world - Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Lucky for me, our family used to live just a couple miles away.

And I get to go visit in April!

It's painful how beautiful Longwood Gardens is. And the scent of the thousands of flowers when you step into The Conservatory, the perfection of the lawn, everything. My lifelong wish is to sleep on that lawn. Speaking of dreams, the previous #1 on my to-do list at Longwood was to eat a kumquat. Don't tell anyone... but I have succeeded.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of coming to Longwood and entering The Conservatory. My sister, Kristen, and I would inevitably make our way to the kumquat trees in the big terra cotta pots, and gaze up in awe at the little tiny oranges that weren't. We wondered what they tasted like, if they could possibly be edible.

Little did I know I would come back 15 years later and slurp one of those elusive miniature oranges - without being caught!! Delicious, though a bit too sour. (By the way, I picked it up off the ground.)

The flowers and plants here are just gorgeous.

I'll let you know if I ever manage to touch that lawn...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sous-Videry with Thomas Keller

Call us food-nerds if you will, but it doesn't change the fact that we culinary students are a little different from the general population.

For example, most CIA'ers are looking forward to this weekend's Bocuse d'Or US competition far more rabidly than the Superbowl. True, it is the culinary equivalent of the Olympics, but the Superbowl?!?! Most classmates didn't even realize it's this Sunday. How sad. Although I'm more sad that the Steelers didn't make it this year.

Speaking of rabid food fanatics, when a culinary celebrity comes to speak at our school, it's generally a pretty big deal. Like when Ferran Adria came to talk and do a demo last year. The school went ballistic, flying him in on a helicopter, decking out the gym with a thousand seats for his talk.

So when Thomas Keller (Per Se, The French Laundry) arrived today - he'll be here through the weekend for the Bocuse d'Or - to talk about and demo sous-vide cookery, excitement hung in the air, thick as one of Chef Adria's foams.

The demo was at 1:30, right after Meds. I ran to get in line and ended up being one of the last ten to get in.

I've never been very good at recalling exactly what people say, so I won't try to recreate his talk here. I can say that he used "per se" exactly once in a sentence not in reference to his NYC restaurant. Fascinating. And he shook my hand - twice. While everyone settled into their seats, he strode up to the last row of seats and sat two chairs down from me. We talked about artisan producers and finding the balance between going mainstream so everyone can try your products, or keeping a very small scale and making people work to find your products. This was in reference to cheesemakers Soyoung Scanlan of Andante Dairy and Laura Chenel.

Sous-vide means under pressure. Foods are vacuum-packed in plastic bags, then cooked in a hot water bath set to a precise temperature. Which means a hunk of meat can be cooked to 141 degrees - perfect medium-rare straight through and not a degree over. All that's needed is a quick sear just to give the outside color. Just so you know, sous-vide meat looks really creepy when it hasn't been seared - all pink and raw and so wrong looking because it's obviously not raw.

The subject of Keller's sous-vide demo was a beautiful loin of Elysian Fields Farm lamb, plated with some king trumpets, glazed pearl onions, braised fennel and lamb sauce.

I pitied that little sheep's loin because the plate just languished there and no one ate it - and it looked so tasty.

We also got to fondle some cryovaced pineapple and other vegetables. Vacuum-packing collapses all the cells in plant matter, rendering it pliable and dense. Think flexible watermelon. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to try it.

Here are some photos:

(Per Se sous chef David making lamb sauce)

As for Meds class, we're done with Spain. How did that happen? We are already halfway through this class.

Today and yesterday were both great days, especially today. We had our demo plate up right on time for Chef E to taste. But she didn't. She simply looked at it, smiled, and said that it looked gorgeous and we should try it. We would know if it wasn't right, she said, and so she trusted that it was perfect.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February!!

I was told that the cherry tree back home in Washington is now in full bloom. Things are a little different here:

Friday (the last day of the Middle East menu) was a very good day - it was almost fun! Paul and I whipped through our prep, demoed early, and received virtually no criticism of our food (the mujadra did need a tiny bit more seasoning).

I spent the vast majority of my weekend doing homework - researching for Spain, doing the costing project, and preparing all new time lines, game plans, recipes, etc, for the new menu.

Monday through Wednesday will be spent learning and cooking the foods of Spain. My station is serving chuletas - grilled pork chops with piperrada (a sweet-tart sauce of roasted red peppers, tomato, onion, and garlic), rosemary-garlic-duckfat roasted potatoes, and spinach sauteed with pinenuts. The prep work is less involved compared to the last menu, but achieving the proper timing for the chops and potatoes is tricky.

Other main dishes include Trout a la Riojana, Mar i Muntanya (rabbit and shrimp stew), Rabu de Toro (oxtail), and Paella de verduras (vegetable paella). And then there's the vast array of tapas, which I will discuss later.

In the meantime, here are some tree photos.

the camo tree