Normally, I begin to write my blog posts a few days early, but today, I am reporting live, so to speak. It’s been a crazy busy week, both emotionally and physically tolling.

Above are the fish dishes from Wednesday through Friday, beginning with a whole red mullet with a baked basil sabayon and potato gratin. Next, we made stingray rolled up with a mushroom filling. Finally, Friday’s slow-cooked salmon with semolina. I must say, preparing fish has grown on me. Before coming here, I had never fileted a fish and I was nervous thinking I might fail, but it turns out that it’s quite fun and interesting! Every fish is a little bit different, which actually has given me confidence that I will be able to transfer my new knowledge to more varieties.

By the end of last week, fish had almost become a habit. This week is a different story: meat. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I rarely cook with meat and when I do, it’s incorporated into dishes as a small component. Therefore, I was already expecting meat to be the biggest challenge for me during this course. So… Monday when I entered cuisine, I was obviously confronted with something entirely new: pigeon. Dead, yes. That was good because I don’t think I would have been able to kill it. However, Chef Samuel began instruction of how to cut up the bird and after a few minutes, I found myself with tears in my eyes. I honestly can’t say what made me so emotional. I was surprised! But then, preparing the pigeon myself was less of an issue. So a day later, we used chicken that we cooked today. Here are the results. For a moment, I thought I might become a vegetarian, but I must admit that both dishes were STUNNINGLY DELICIOUS!

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Pigeon Pithiviers

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Chicken with potato roses and celeriac purée

The past week has also been filled with chocolate, which was the theme for patisserie last week. On Friday, we ended up with a number of different chocolates that created a beautiful assortment. One of the most interesting insights for me is that chocolatiers work with many more ingredients besides just with chocolate. Occasionally dried fruits, but most of all nuts. Whole or ground up into pastes, they perfectly complement chocolate.

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This week, I am taking an additional chocolate class Tuesday through Thursday. That means 9 hours in the kitchen on those days. I have decided that I won’t even bother wearing “real pants” and instead will be wearing sweatpants when I’m not in chef’s pants. Yesterday, we made lots and lots of chocolate eggs and spheres. The purpose of these beautifully molded parts is not to be seen, however. They are placed inside the sculpture in order to reduce the amount of heavy solid mass. In fact, creating chocolate sculptures is exactly like creating clay sculptures! We created a paste of chocolate that we then got messy with, shaping it around the balls. I’m really happy with my work today sculpting. Tomorrow is assembly, which is far more terrifying since it’s – literally – make it or break it…

This week’s patisserie theme is plated desserts. Since I generally make cakes, I didn’t know how I would feel about truly plating desserts. But I love it!! Today, we got to create a plate with chocolate, whipped passion fruit ganache, praline buttercream, and hazelnut dacquoise. As I’ve mentioned, plating in cuisine is one of my favorite parts, but I enjoy plating in pastry even more. We’ve now been challenged with even more originality: Friday, we will need to use leftover components to create a plate. And in November, we get to entirely imagine a dessert from scratch and the best idea will be created by everyone! Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

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By the way, last weekend, a couple of us drove down to Barcelona. If you get a chance to visit, it’s not only a beautiful and excitingly vibrant city, but the food is fantastic! I could spend hours at the Boqueria market trying different fresh foods. It’s also great for brunch, tapas, bakeries, actually everything. Travelling to Spain made me practice my Spanish (although speaking Catalan would have helped even more…). It was a struggle. While my Spanish might be deteriorating, my French is not and a lady at the supermarket recently told me I could pass for a native French speaker! I was over the moon to hear that, although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pass for long.

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Chilies at the Boqueria market in Barcelona
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