Saturday, 21 February 2009

ESCF - Week 2

I'm very excited to report that after 2 weeks, I finally have broadband so I can finally blog in the peace of my flat rather than relying on snatched opportunities at internet cafes, woohoo!

The time is already flying here in Paris and its only week 2 of school. Again, we spent most of this week making more tarts - tarte au citron, lemon meringue pie, tarte aux noix (walnut tart), Lintzer torte (raspberry jam tart), tarte orange, tart au cafe, tarte marguerite (fruit tart with shortcrust and choux pastry, in the shape of a daisy!) and then just for the craic......tarte with no name! (actually, it said "tarte multi-fruits" on our schedule) 8 tarts in 4 days is fairly good going by anyone's standards! Making tarts might sound straightforward, just make pastry and fill your shell but in fact, a lot more effort goes into it. Some of the additional things we learnt how to make from scratch this week included caramel, Italian meringue, ganache, glaze and pastry cream. Its great to be in an environment where chef demonstrates to us exactly how to make each component, and also dishing out any valuable tips along the way! I'm fairly confident that my pastry cream will now be smooth and light as opposed to my previous attempt which resembled hardened custard ;-)

We finished the week by learning how to make choux pastry - chef made one savoury (gougères) and one sweet recipe (chouquettes), and then we practiced just how to make chouquettes. One needs some serious elbow grease to make choux pastry, followed by excellent piping skills - its a tough act to follow chef's perfectly shaped choux balls but am hoping that practice makes perfect! There's also a special "choo-choo" technique in getting the sugar crystals onto the pastry!

As I mentioned previously, most of our time is spent in lab doing practical work but there are also other classes, including French conversational classes to try and get our French up to scratch before we head off to our "stages", oenology class - essentially learning about wine and dessin - drawing! You're probably thinking (like me!) why on earth do we need to learn about drawing but as our teacher pointed out to us, it definitely comes in handy if you have a client who wants to you to design a cake for them and you being able to at least sketch vaguely what the end product might look like?! Both our oenology and dessin classes have a sit-in translator because the teachers only speak French, its not always easy to get the full translation for dessin as the teacher speaks fast and is just full of ideas. I'm still not convinced that I will become a more competent artist, am already dreading trying to complete the homework we've been given....oh wellos!

Will end with some more pearls of wisdom from chef....."C'est quoi ça? NEVER!" (he usually says this when you've done something you're not supposed to have done) and "what is this asshole?" (this was in reference to the cherries in my tart, which had slits where the stones were removed. The slits should never be visible when placing fruit of top of a tart!)


1 comment:

Nora said...

G-- love seeing the progress that you are making. so amazing! keep up the good work and posts!