We ended the first half of Mod 1 with a written exam, which wasn’t a big deal. I got an A, in case you were wondering. We kicked off the second half with Gelatin. We made Panna Cotta, Marshmellows, and different flavored Gelee, which is basically like Jello. My partner and I made chocolate panna cotta, which came out really good. It wasn’t as richly sweet as I thought it was going to be, which was perfect. The marshmellows were marshmellows, I think that’s all I have to say. The gelee we ended up making was flavored with champagne. We decided that someone from stewarding shook the champagne bottles before sending them down to us, because with two twists of the wire holding the cork down, the cork popped out and alcohol was everywhere. I almost hit someone in the face while getting everyone’s stuff wet, and my partner almost took her hand off. Not cool, guys. Also, kind of hilarious. Anyway, before the gelee set, we stuck fresh raspberries in them. It tasted like…. champagne in jello form. I am not a huge fan of jello to begin with, so it wasn’t my most favorite thing ever.
The next day, we went on our field trip! I really don’t feel like describing it in detail because I just wrote an essay on it for school. So, if you’re interested, I’m going to copy and paste the essay into another page on this blog. It’ll be right next to the “Contact” tab on the homepage.
The next two lessons were dedicated to practicing our buttercream piping and Sugar. For the piping, we just made practice buttercream out of shortening (gross) and made pretty rosettes and shells. I once worked in a place where the shortening buttercream (shorteningcream?) we use just to practice piping with in school is the buttercream we sold to people. Who ate the stuff. I don’t understand.
For the sugar lessons, we are learning about the different stages of cooking sugar, and the different uses and desserts for each stage. For the first stage, which is called the thread stage, we made a syrup and then used that to make lemonade. For the second stage, which is called the soft ball stage, we made chocolate fudge with walnuts. I love fudge. It was very rich, which is what fudge should be, but the walnuts helped cut the richness and also gave a great texture. For the third stage, which is called the firm ball stage, we made Italian meringue buttercream, which of course was amazing because it was buttercream. Later at home, I reduced beer into a syrup and whipped it into the buttercream and made a delicious beer buttercream. Mmm, beer. Mmm, buttercream.
Aside from class, I also went to a school demonstration where Farmer Lee Jones, from The Chef’s Garden in Ohio, came to talk about his family farm, where part of his mission is to work with chefs to provide them with quality produce. He has worked with the likes of Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, and Daniel Boulud to name a few. This guy was pretty charming, from the signature red bow tie and overalls to his unexpected one liners. He told great stories and taught us about sustainable farming, the importance of family farms, and all the crap that most of America is purchasing today. It was a very informative and interesting talk, and is in the same vein of what I’ve been interested in a while in terms of my lifestyle and what I want to pursue in my culinary career. Maybe Farmer Lee Jones and I will be best friends one day.
The next demonstration I’m attending is the Hydrocolloid Demo, where I’ll be learning about food science and molecular gastronomy through crazy things like applying nitrogen, aromas, and smoke to food. This is also something I’ve always been interested in after seeing a video of Pastry Chef Sam Mason do crazy things with food a few years ago. I mean, I’m a more of a classic cook in practice, but I am in awe of what people can do with food these days.