Sunday, January 23, 2011

Block 9: Week 1

Block 9 - time is passing so fast. Less than three months left of school to go. Crazy.

Block 9 is an interesting block. We are back in the kitchen, which is nice. And it's a bit like Block 1 all over again, but with better ingredients. We are learning about a la carte food, so we are cooking a lot fancier food as well as working on plating and presentation. Also, there is no service in this Block, so we get to work on palette development each day too, ie eating.

Our chef is a little bit crazy. I was dreading this block because of this chef. We had her in Block 4 for a week and it was a stressful week. She has really good intentions and really wants us to learn, but she likes things done her way and only her way and she also tends to ramble. A lot. This week wasn't quite as bad as I had expected, I guess because I am getting used to her more each day, but she's still definitely not my favourite.

We cook something different each day, and work with different people each day, like Block 1, so I like the format a lot. This week, we made pates, terrines, galantines, cold appetizers (my group made oysters on the half shell), hot appetizers (crab stuffed prawns in wonton wrappers with K and F), and canapes (I made roast lamb and wilted spinach on a polenta base).

It was a fun week outside of school too. We went to Caprice on Monday and crashed a UBC "white party" when I wasn't wearing white, had a crazy night at the Cambie on Wednesday and met F's friends Jenna and Jeremy (which made volunteering to make sushi at school the next morning pretty painful), saw Blue Valentine on Thursday which is my new favourite movie even though it was so sad, and had a few drinks at Rogue with a friend who already graduated school on Friday with a stop at Subway and the art gallery steps on the way home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Block 8: Week 4

Our last week of serving was probably the most fun. Lots of friends and families came in for dinner which made it more interesting.

On Monday, my crazy friend from the cafeteria came in for dinner. I made a little side bet on how many drinks I could sell him, and I managed to get him to have three. I'm terrible. N and F's families came for dinner, and then we ended up going for drinks with F's sister afterwards.

Tuesday, A came in with some curling friends and a friend from university. I also had a table with my sous chef from Rogers Arena. It was a busy night, but much more fun serving people that I knew.

On Wednesday, my cousins came for dinner. It was a little weird serving them, but I think they really enjoyed their meal. We went out that night and ended up dancing at Republic. The best part was meeting Ronnie the Dancer. Haha.

Thursday the restaurant was closed for a private party. I worked the bar that night, though I wasn't really bartending - I was the cashier. I handled the money when people ordered drinks, kept tabs, and counted up the drinks. It was a little stressful before dinner started because the bar was so busy and so many people wanted to set up tabs, but it was a lot of fun. And the best part was we made $50 in tips. It was great.

Our last night was a buffet night. A came in again to try the buffet and said it was really good. The other A was on the bar, so I was super busy bringing drinks to my table. I think everyone had a good night. We tried to go out with the Block 11 class because it was their last day of school, but we lost them. We had a quiet night at our usual spot instead.

Next week - Block 9 - a la carte.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Block 8: Week 3

We are now serving dinner at JJ's. The first day back after the break was nice and short. We did a quick lecture on liqueurs and then we got to go home early since the restaurant was closed.

The whole week was really slow in terms of customers - I think the most we had was 9 one night. So chef let the students sit down and eat dinner to give both the kitchen and the servers something to do. I ate on Wednesday and it was amazing. Me and my "date" shared the onion soup with short rib and mushroom risotto for the appetizer, duck breast with herbed gnocchi and stuffed lamb with bacon fondant potatoes for the entree, and a lemon tart and a hazelnut chocolate cake for dessert. So delicious.

A and our curling team came for dinner on Thursday, so that was a lot of fun for me. They ordered lots of drinks and really enjoyed all the food. Friday was super slow, I think it was only one table of customers, and I served them. We went out for a drink afterwards, the first time of the new year. It was good to catch up with people.

Next week - still serving dinner, but the restaurant is full every night and I have friends coming almost every night as well. Should be fun.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eggs Benedict

Happy New Year!

We just came back from a wonderful trip to Jamaica for the holidays. The weather was great, the food was delicious, and we had the most relaxing week. We stayed at a villa with a cook, so we got to try some home-cooked Jamaican dishes like ackee and saltfish, callaloo, and our new favourite, curry goat.

Now that we're home, and I have a few days off before school starts again, I'm cooking - what else? This morning, I made eggs benedict (doesn't exactly sound like I'm taking time off work though, does it?).

Basically, I toasted the English muffin and then buttered it. Sliced some peameal back bacon and warmed them up in a pan with a bit of oil. Poached the eggs in simmering water with some white wine vinegar for four minutes. Boiled the potatoes last night so I could just dice them and pan fry them in butter and salt and pepper this morning. And then made the hollandaise (recipe posted below). It was pretty easy to make, but it's very a-la-minute. And so rich.

Hollandaise Sauce
Yield: 500mL (4 or 5 servings)
Print recipe

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
pinch of white pepper
1 small shallot, minced
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup clarified butter
lemon juice, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
tabasco sauce, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Combine the vinegars, bay leaf, white pepper, and shallot in a small sauce pan.

  2. Reduce the mixture by half. Strain and cool.

  3. Combine the vinegar reduction with the egg yolks and water in a stainless steel bowl.

  4. Over a bain-marie, whisk the mixture until it is the texture of half-whipped cream.

  5. Remove the bowl from the heat and stream in the hot clarified butter while continuing to whisk.

  6. Season to taste with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper.

  7. Because of the threat of bacterial contamination, prepare the sauce as close to service as possible.