This week’s post will be short. Because we’re on VACATION! I have to say that living in the south of France and eating great food everyday is already like vacation, so I didn’t feel that I needed a break, but nonetheless it’s nice to have some time for other things.

Many of the other students decided to travel – to Barcelona, Lyon, Switzerland, and even London. Instead, I’m getting a visit from my mom! We’ll be staying at an aunt’s house and taking day trips. And I’ll be practicing my cooking and plating!

Since we’ve been on vacation, I’ve gone to the gym, started taking a data structures and algorithms class, and thought about future plans… Busy as a bee! But I’ve also been making and eating of course – a friend and I made sweet potato curry, I improvised some spinach tortillas, and I made a first trial batch of carrot cake granola bars.

Last week once again ended of with a whole bunch of bread. What did I learn? My croissants need to be rolled out way thinner, I think I’m slightly allergic to walnuts, and making dough is absolutely therapeutic. We also used rye, once for simple rye bread and once for bread with candied fruits and walnuts. The production additionally included 5-grain bread, apple turnovers, and baba au rhum (or savarin). The babas look like giant cupcakes that have the consistency and taste of dry bread. Not very exciting. But they are then soaked in a sugar syrup with rum until they are dripping wet. Finally, you add pastry cream and sometimes fresh fruit. I was surprised at how delicious our baba were since they started out quite boring and dry.

I had lots of fun in cuisine on Thursday and Friday, too. On Thursday, we turned our foie gras into a true gourmet dish by dipping liver balls into chestnut jelly to resemble chestnuts. These “chestnuts” were served on a reconstituted caramel popcorn cracker. Decoration included a translucent chili pepper sheet and a chili pepper gel. Voilà! But that’s not all. We also made a revisited croquet madame, which is one of the best dishes so far – but I feel like I say that about almost every dish we make. It started out with tomato bread that we emptied out, a bit like a coffin that we then filled with béchamel sauce. This was topped with quail eggs, iberico ham, Serrano ham, parmesan crisp, and shaved parmesan. How much would you pay to have me come over and make this for you right now?!

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Friday was a bit of a mise-en-place day, which means that we did lots of prep work such as grating chestnuts for chestnut flour, cooking pumpkin chutney, etc. We also prepared a fantastic dish!

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This dish consisted of smoky sirloin with béarnaise sauce and an aligot fritter. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned aligot before: this is cheesy mashed potatoes with a 1:1 ratio of cheese to potato. Meaning really, really… really cheesy.

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