Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Confessions of a Stagiere: Week Sixteen

I've been really terrible at getting these up on time lately. My apologies.

So I didn't go last Friday because I was busy moving into my new home. Woot! Now everything's moved in and almost everything's been unpacked and put away. I can finally concentrate on food.

I did a lot of rejoicing the week before when I found out the amuse bouche had been changed. Not because I didn't like it, but because the new one is 150% easier to plate.

Old amuse: heat up pea puree (which almost always exploded on you if you heated it just a LITTLE too much), heat smoked sablefish under salamander, get heated soup (which turned brown all the time because of the chlorophyll), yell for the bacon foam, coordinate that all together and out it goes. It's not the most difficult thing in the world but man...it could be trying.

New amuse: plate tomato gelee and mascarpone roll ahead of time. Pull out of lowboy when needed. Place heirloom tomato pieces at bottom of cup, pour cold soup into it. Fill puff pastry piece with tomato jam. Done.

This will have changed significantly by the time I head back this Friday. It's a work in progress. But I love the soup. It's a really simple tomato consomme: tomato, basil, cucumber and celery put through a food processor and left to hang over a bowl overnight in a cheesecloth. It's simple and refreshing. The small pieces of tomato inside look like little jewels. Sometimes they float and sometimes they don't. The sous chef figures it has something to do with the size of the pieces. I personally love the way it looks when it floats. With the drops of basil oil dripped into it it is a visual sensation.

There were an inordinate number of people complimenting the dishes this week. Perhaps it's because there are a number of new dishes on the menu, including this absolutely mouthwatering corn and scallop dish I have yet to try. Usually people just send their compliments in with their server or occasionally come into the kitchen to say hello.

This week two guests came in that I will never forget. They were an older couple from Austin, Texas. I only know this because that's what they said. I can't quite describe how they looked, only that they were very American looking (perfectly coiffed hair, artifically whitened teeth). They said it was a "life changing meal".

The woman says, "We're from Austin Texas, where the streets are paved with guacamole".

I don't know what it was, the accent, what she said and the whole American-ness of it, but I could barely hold in the laughter after she said that.

I suppose she was trying to illustrate that there isn't a lot of fine dining in Austin. But it was hilarious to me because only Americans say things like that. This is why we have a saying in (Canadian) radio: Americans on the radio are gold. Because they'll say anything. Love them. They scooted out of the kitchen, saying they would "tell everyone" about this. God, I hope they send more Texans out this way. And if I ever go to Austin I'm bringing along a big bag of nacho chips to sop up all that guacamole.

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