I have to say, what started out as being a long muscle aching day, ended up being a pretty fun night. As soon as I walked in at 12 I was asked to chop parsley. A lot of parsley. I began to chop in batches because I thought that would be the best way to pursue this course. Alphonso walks by and tells me no no and brings me a pan of what he wants which, to sum it up, contained parsley specks the size of the black specks in vanilla bean ice cream.
One of the chefs, Angel, said to me “you’re done when your hand hurts or your bleeding.” Luckily, it was just my hand that wanted to fall off. No bleeding was involved.
Then….the tartlets. Dan sent me to the walk-in to pick up the dough to roll out and make tartlets. How many? Oh, it ended up being a rough total of about 300. You think I’m kidding? I was rolling dough and making tartlet shells for 5 hours. The worst part was that the first batch of dough I worked with came out of the refrigerator. I do not know if you have ever experimented with rolling out cold dough but let me just tell you this: I got a weeks worth of gym workouts. Every muscle in my arms and back are killing me right now!
Oh, and then when all the cold dough was finished with I had to make a whole batch myself. The hand mixer was broken. SO I HAD TO DO IT BY HAND!!
Dan told me they are using them to make goat cheese tartlets tomorrow for a couple parties. I got a really cool feeling thinking about all of those random people eating something that I made all by myself for them. Well, at least just the base of it But still. 😛
Near the end of the night as I was finishing up my last batch, Dan told me they had some regulars come in and they were making them a little something special. He asked me to help and I was delighted! He wanted me to stuff figs with goat cheese (he calls it chevre), wrap them in bacon, toothpick them, then deep fry them for just a couple minutes until the bacon got crispy.
When they came out of the fryer the bacon was so crisp and you could see the chevre just beginning to melt. I wanted one :). I began to walk back to my station when all of the sudden another chef named Billy asked if I wanted to make calamari for a table! I was so scared! That’s another point….I am such a mess here right now. I get so nervous about every thing I do that I almost forget sometimes about all of the things I already know. I have made calamari endless times in class. Why was I so nervous? I am so weird….
Napa Valley Grille does their calamari in a very unique way that I absolutely love. They have special “Calamari” flour and when I asked what was so special about it, he told me it has semolina flour. Semolina flour is a type of durum wheat flour that is used in pasta making and is a lot more coarse than normal flour. Not only does Napa fry the calamari rings, but along with that they fry roasted red peppers and kalamata olives. When they came out of the fry oil it gets tossed in a combination of parmesan, lemon juice, and parsley. I thought the combination was so interesting. They put a creamy sauce and a zesty marinara on the side and top it with hunks of feta and cucumbers.
After I made that I felt like I was on top of the world. I walked over to Dan who was finishing up the plate for the regulars and it looked absolutely stunning.
I know it is a lot, but let me try to help you out here. The top left are the figs (that I made!!), then little crustinis on top of goat cheese, then pickled onions, a carpaccio “philly cheese steak” which is raw beef tenderloin, crumbled bleu cheese, topped with white truffle oil and shallots, the red is a chutney that goes well with the Atwells Gold cheese that surrounds it, smoked salmon with capers, poached pears (they were poached in red wine SO beautiful), poached apricots, an organic greens salad topped with homemade sweet potato chips, then finally another type of cheddar cheese. All I can say is that I wish I were a usual.
In at 9 am tomorrow. Finally getting to work with executive chef Erik Wicklund tomorrow. Can’t wait.