Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cream, Chocolate, Wine, Bread... what else (besides du fromage)?

Can't believe it's already halfway through this week! Quick notes about last week, which was full of pâte à choux:

chocolate éclairs - filled with chocolate pastry cream!

religieuse (chocolat) - essentially a round ball version of an éclair

Paris-Brest - a ring of pâte à choux filled with praline cream and covered in sliced almonds. Please note the double layer of cream in the huge mama... yup, that's right, that whole thing is filled with just cream!

Restaurant Service - about once or twice a month, we have restaurant service (lunch or dinner). That basically means that we're in charge of plating the desserts for the school's restaurant. Last week was all about chocolate! Diners had a choice between tarte au chocolat/sorbet au chocolat & fondant au chocolat (molten lava cake with a raspberry filling)/glace à la pistache. We also made little petits fours plates to accompany the "obligatory" café after lunch: truffes (truffles), tartlette religieuse-style, and all-American brownies (!).

I was chef of the week, which meant that I had to be in charge of calling out the orders that the servers handed in. It wasn't too difficult, save the fact that we had to make quenelles with the respective ice creams and time it just so that they wouldn't melt before the servers came back to retrieve the goods... Well, a few minutes after we finished plating a table of 9's desserts and were eagerly waiting for the kids to deliver them before the ice cream melted (which it already had started to do), a group of them came rushing in with arms full of plated desserts, ice cream soup included. Apparently they had put the plates in the fridge, as to stop the ice cream from melting, but in doing so, they had forgotten that the fondant au chocolat was supposed to be eaten warm... oops! We had to re-plate about 8 desserts, but luckily everything turned out in the end. Restaurant service wasn't as horrible as I thought, considering we had a lot more down time than anticipated... then again, let's see how next week's dinner service goes.

Oenologie (wine class) - we have a handful of wine classes throughout the course that will hopefully teach us how to pair a wine with dessert. Although we'd had an introductory class beforehand, Friday morning was our first dégustation (tasting): Gewürztraminer. I'd had it before when I went to Strasbourg last fall and actually enjoyed it (I'm still "training my palette" when it comes to wines... what better place than France?)! Observe, inhale, swirl, inhale again, and sip, making a mental note of the different "tastes" of the wine as it passes through your mouth and down your throat... and don't forget to somehow suck in some air while the wine's still in your mouth and swirl it around. Who knew it could be so complicated?! Nonetheless it was really interesting, and I learned quite a bit.

Friday afternoon we had boulangerie, where we made baguette de tradition (the traditional way: by hand and with larger holes and a better taste), in addition to specialized breads. I made pain de mie (canapé). It's basically like sandwich bread, using eggs and SO good... thick slices toasted with butter and jam --- mmmm! Unfortunately we were a little too rushed at the end so I didn't get a clear shot.

I should get some sleep now, since after tomorrow, sleep isn't going to be a priority. My dear friend from college is coming to visit me for a whole week. I'm so excited! And the weather's finally starting to warm up -- mid-50s during the day. woowoo!!

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