So this week was basically vacation for the pastry students since the week was completed dedicated to cuisine. Chef presented us with three separate menus ideas for the week… a balanced menu, a business dinner menu, and a typical bistro menu.
The balanced menu consisted of a raw salmon starter marinated in a dill and citrus vinaigrette, a traditional veal stew with a side of pilaf rice for the main course, and a sugar tart for dessert.
The raw salmon platter was a light and refreshing way to start the day, but the green peppercorns and dill seemed to overpower most of the salmon flavor. The sugar tart was basically a yeast dough flavored with sugar and butter =P Nothing to write home about. And I didn’t care for the veal stew, so you can imagine my enthusiasm when I learned that we’d be making it in practical. I ended up wrapping up my stew in a foil shaped boat and left it on the free-for-all table in the Winter Garden. Someone must have been hungry, because by the time I got changed and came out of the locker room, my stew was gone =P Yay, at least it didn’t go to waste =)
I was really looking forward to the business dinner menu since it didn’t involve veal… filet mignon instead! To start, Chef Frederick prepared a Flemish leek pie, which reeked of this stinky cheese from Northern France, Maroilles. The aroma was quite strong, (so strong that Chef actually had to wear latex gloves to handle it) but thankfully, the taste was a bit lighter. For the main event, Chef Frederick prepared a whole beef tenderloin, tied each piece with kitchen string to form round tournedos, and then grilled them bleu, saignant, and a point, which we would have to do in practical. Of course, we were only given three tournedos to work with, so if we messed one up, then we were screwed =P I was relieved when Chef said my steaks were cooked parfait =) We served the tournedos with a bearnaise sauce flavored with tarragon and other fresh herbs and a side of potatoes pont neuf, which were basically deep-fried thick potato sticks). Yum =D
For dessert, Chef made a delicious and extremely luscious frozen coffee bombe (a bit like a semi-freddo) with a caramel and cognac sauce. I don’t drink much coffee, but I’m really starting to dig all these coffee desserts. *sigh… my tastes are definitely changing ><
Last on the list was a typical bistro menu, which started off with a saffron mussel soup. Chef used the little black mussels, just like the ones used in Linguine & Mussels alla Diavola, and thickened the soup with cream and egg yolks, seasoned with a hint of saffron. The soup was quite flavorful and rich, a precursor to the hearty meal ahead, but I suppose that’s expected when dining at any French bistro.
We’d have to prepare another veal dish in practical, this time being veal chops basted in butter, served with a side of fried potatoes and pearl onions, button mushrooms, and bacon all sauteed together in butter. Quite a hearty meal, yesh?
Since we were in class on Saturday and the school was practically empty, I gave my veal chop to one of the dishwashers to take home for dinner.
Chef finished the demonstration with an Italian-style strawberry dessert with pistachio biscuits and mascarpone. He marinated the strawberries with a splash of balsamic vinegar, which was absolutely ingenuous, and then drizzled on a bit of basil-infused olive oil.
The dessert tasted as beautiful as it looked… a perfect example of how sweet and savory components can infuse together to form something wonderfully delightful =)
It was kind of nice to go for a week without pastry. We weren’t introduced to any baked goods loaded with butter and sugar to tempt us in further enhancing our waistlines and love handles. You know, since I ate healthier this week (as in not eating most of the food from school), I think I shed a few pounds… actually, probably only a few grams =P but still, better than losing nothing or worse yet, gaining!