Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Weeks @ Tante Marie's

At this point I’m pretty sure I don’t have many faithful readers, and if I exclude family members and past professors/classmates, maybe no one else is reading this but me. Anyway, it’s been a little more than two weeks since my last legitimate post—the one claiming I would post daily— and clearly that just isn’t a possibility right now. Between cooking school, work, a demanding GRE prep course, physical therapy, and going to the gym (only to off-set my twice daily serving of delicious things poached in butter or smothered in cream), I barely sleep or shower. Hopefully, as the course goes on and I get used to my rigorous schedule I will be much more diligent about posting.

It’s only been two weeks and I’ve learned (using that term loosely) upwards of 60 recipes. Week one was relatively basic. I spent hours working on knife-skills, chopping what seemed like every fruit and vegetable under the sun, in every shape and size. For example— rough chop, fine dice, mince, slice, julienne, chiffonade, top and tail, etc. I also learned a handful of classic French soups including, French Onion, Cream of Lettuce, Butternut Squash, and Garlic Potato.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, our class cooks a complete menu, which we eat for lunch. Each student is assigned an appetizer, entrĂ©e, side dish, or dessert; and with fourteen of us cooking it’s an incredible amount of food. The dishes on these days are created by a few people, this way we are able to taste and discuss how slight differences in method or ingredients can make a huge difference in the end result. Much of the day is spent tasting dishes and ingredients and layers of flavor. I’ve realized very quickly that knowing how a dish is supposed to taste as opposed to just liking the way it tastes, is much more important in learning about and understanding food. 

Monday and Friday are workshop days, on these days all the students work on the same thing for example, breads, soups, preserves, custards and caramels, mother sauces and so on. Before each workshop Frances, instructor and head chef, gives an afternoon demo on the steps for each recipe and tricks on how to not f*ck it up, providing us with the knowledge we need in order complete the task ourselves. Fridays are also wine tasting days, and although we were spoiled with a trip to the Wine Country our first Friday, the remainder of our tastings will be done at school. Each Friday we taste two different wines made from the same grape, usually a California label and always a French label, last weeks grape was the Gamay. Amazing!

This post doesn’t even begin to shed light on how much I’ve learned and all the things I’ve experienced, in the few short weeks since school began. Over the next six months, between photos and text, I’ll do the best I can to brighten the picture for you.