Sunday, 31 May 2009

Traiteur and 4th floor service

It was a bit of a shock to the system going back to school on Monday morning having enjoyed an extra long weekend off. Traiteur was suppose to start at 7:30am but most people in class forgot about the earlier start. We also couldn't get the feuilletage which we made last week out of the freezer so we started much later than scheduled. Traiteur class is supposed to be about making things for catering or for selling in delis but is really more about making savoury pastry dishes. The pastries we have made to date have all been a bit "classical" and heavy on cheesy, creamy sauces and Monday's session was no different. We spent the morning making "feuilletage jambon"- a large puff pastry pasty filled with a calorific sauce mornay (bechamel with cheese), ham and cheese and "bouchée à la reine" - vol-au-vents filled with some chicken, mushroom and ham in a veloute sauce. My feuilletage jambon turned out pretty well except for a little cheese leaking out the sides. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for my bouchée à la reine which turned out an unattractive slinky shape. Chef said the reason for this was that my eggwash had leaked onto the base which stuck both layers of feuilletage together on one side, meaning said side could not puff up. This little setback then meant that I couldn't really fill my vol-au-vents with filling without it spilling out immediately, no biggie as my sauce was too runny and not usable :( The only consolation was that it was seasoned well and tasted nice enough on its own!

Monday afternoon was particularly special for me because I finally had the chance to meet an ex-ESCF student whose blog I had read before choosing to come and study here. Ulla popped in to meet me at school after traiteur, we then went to a nearby cafe for a spot of lunch and chinwag. It was lovely chatting to her and comparing notes on school and life in general. I also got some invaluable advice on what to expect once I enter the workplace of my new industry which was great. Naturally, we also swapped notes on nice restaurants and pastry shops - it was hilarious to find out that one of her favourite places to eat in town was Lao Lane Xang with her favourite dish being roast duck with chilli and basil - Lao Lane Xang is practically my 2nd home now! (we promised to meet up soon for a visit) I also let her in our class "secret patisserie" of Carl Marletti and told her how good the tarte au citron was. Ulla then mentioned that there was a survey on the city's best tarte au citron in Figaroscope recently but she forgot who topped the poll - a visit to Carl Marletti later on in the week confirmed that his tarte au citron did indeed top the poll!!   

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent prepping and then actually doing restaurant service - a slightly different arrangement to normal as we were working in the 4th floor kitchens this week. There were also no pre-desserts or mignardises to be made which meant that service was even more relaxed than usual and not actually a lot of work to go around (it was also due to the fact that we had done a lot of prepping on Tuesday). My Anglopat "partner in crime" and I were in charge of making one half of the macaroons required for making an "Ispahan" inspired plated dessert which went pretty smoothly. Its always a bit scary the moment one puts one's macaroons into the oven and whether they will grow any "feet" - we needn't have worried cos ours did so toot! toot! to us :) On the day of service, I was helping assembling the macaroons themselves which was good fun - the bad news was that there weren't enough "nice-looking" macaroons for service which meant some customers had to make do with feet-less macaroons but the good news was that we could make sandwiches with the extra mediocre macaroons so everyone could taste after service. The other 2 desserts which were on offer were a cheesecake made from fromage blanc and marmite lutée - a mini-tureen filled with exotic fruits macerated in a spicy lemongrass infused syrup and covered with a puff pastry top. Service went well and we even managed to finish earlier than usual which was something of a bonus! Our kitchen on the 4th floor was adjacent to the Anglopat cuisine class so managed to sneak into their garde-manger section a few times to see what they were up to - after their service debrief from their chef, we offered up our extra macaroons and cheesecake to them which they devoured hungrily and gave us some positive thumbs up for our efforts. It was an image that stayed with me during my metro ride home, the sight of people gaining pleasure from food which you made, no greater compliment and feedback really. We are secretly hoping that maybe the cuisine class will return the gesture with some of the food which they make from their service :)

I don't think I contributed at all to restaurant service on Thursday afternoon as I was stuck painting my pastillage plaque. Like the sucker that I am, I unwittingly picked a mega-complicated postcard to copy from (colour-wise) which unfortunately took way longer to paint. I had a good stab at it and its now maybe 80% finished so will just have to find time later to finish it - some nice compliments from folk about it thus far....

We finished off the week with another traiteur session - a bit of a poor turnout with 40% attendance. Amazingly enough, we still managed to make everything the chef had planned with less than half the class there! Yep, you guessed it, more puff pastry and a little bit more sauce total, we made some choux puffs filled with a cheesy asparagus sauce and topped with asparagus tips, smoked salmon parcels wrapped with a crepe pastry, seafood mixture topped with some puff pastry and some fancy looking sausage rolls. Who would've thought that sophisticated French folk would eat sausage rolls?!! 

Another long weekend to look forward to (do the French ever work?), hoping to catch up with a friend from Uni who is currently living in Geneva and popping to Paris for the weekend and also having some nice long ly-ins! :)  

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