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Its unfortunate I didn’t take any pictures the first two weeks, but I clearly forgot I had a camera until about Tuesday. this is a shame because our chefs welcome photography in class (having a photo can be a great memory aid for studying and reviewing later), and many of my classmates even videotape demonstrations. I, however, was content taking notes, until I realized that chances are one day I might wish I had something to remind me exactly what a certain dish was supposed to look like, or exactly how the chef went about performing a particular task. So, I dug out the ‘ol camera.

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of my dessert from patisserie this week, which isn’t such an oversight considering class ran overtime, and in  my rush to finish quickly and get to the cafeteria before it closed (unsuccessful) the presentation wasn’t what it should have been. But, think homemade puff pastry with a layer of pastry cream and topped with fresh peaches, strawberries, and figs.

But besides that, here’s a quick visual summary of my week:

The kitchen at work. Those copper pots are amazing to cook in but we can barely lift them. 

Potage Julienne Darblay. Or, in American, its potato soup with vegetables. I thought it was quite good.

Another take on potato soup, this one served chilled, with a little extra cream and topped with chives. Not my favorite–cold starch gave it a bit of a grainy texture that I didn’t enjoy.

8am Wednesday and the chef is holding a giant crab. Day looks to be going downhill already. About 5 minutes in to demonstration, classmate across the room asks me if I’m feeling ok. The answer would be “not really”.

Mise-en-place of fish carcasses and whole shrimp. Y’know, I’m not even that squeamish generally, but fish and shellfish…I do NOT want to touch them. They’re kind of on par with eating insects in terms of nastiness (they differ from insects in that they are usually ok when fried beyond the point of recognition, i’ll admit to that. same is not true for bugs of any type). 

Chef demonstrating how we’re going to kill our crabs by chopping them into quarters. This task wasn’t helped by the fact that my crabs were starting to warm up and get a little bit frisky. Swinging a meat cleaver at a squirming little animal definitely wasn’t fun. Got it done though.

Finally something I can really enjoy…flambé!

And to prove I survived the class….my finished dishes:

The crab bisque. Unfortunately the consistency was a bit thin but chef said the taste was good, so I consider it a success.

Creme Dieppoise.  A stock made with the fish, mushrooms and leeks, mixed with cream, and finished with some shrimp and mussels. We did this recipe in pairs and I have to give most of the credit for this one to my super wonderful partner, who did the all the hard work with the fish while I tackled the vegetables.

Thursday in class, instead of being greeted by the chef holding crabs, we are given a demonstration of cleaning and fileting a couple kinds of fish.

…And then we are faced with our own platter of fish to practice on. fun.  We’re not working in partners today so I have no choice but to scoop all the innards out myself. 

my finished filets. I’m actually pretty proud i managed this lol. once the guts were out and the heads off and all the little barbs trimmed off, it wasn’t actually too bad. But, it was a little touch and go for a minute there…and I can’t say there is anything fun about gouging eyeballs out of anything. The biggest one, surprisingly perhaps, I thought was the hardest to do. it all got done though and i had 8 pretty little filets ready to go.

the scraps leftover go into the pot for….surprise….soupe de poisson. Appetizing, right?

meanwhile, the filets are cut and marinated in olive oil, and either fresh basil or saffron powder.

The finished soup! the filets are poached in the broth and served with the soup, and then swirled with a traditional rouille sauce. As usual, my soup is slightly too thick for the chef’s taste (maybe overcompensated for yesterday’s being slightly too thin…) but the taste was good, and that’s what really matters to me. Frankly just the fact that I got through today and yesterday without too much gagging qualifies as a success in my books.

 

This was a rather long post….I’ll continue with regular updates of what’s going on in class each week, but I can’t promise they’ll all be this image-heavy. At any rate, I’ll try to have some record of what I’m learning!

Will be back sometime this weekend with another food update….stay tuned for the run-down on our Provence  regional menu we’ll be completing tomorrow 🙂

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