Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's go Racing! Zamora Road Race!

This weekend was the first bike race of the season for me...............................and actually the first time that I have raced my bike since I was tooling around France almost 2 years ago. I am not going to lie, I have missed the racing scene and am more than happy to be getting my feet wet here in the NorCal.  Powered by Snapple and ready to g, welcome to Zamora and the olive groves of Bariani Olive Oil Co. 
It is so beautiful to look out across the farmlands of California and have the priviledge to race on its roads. This ain't Napa, that is for sure, but even Zamora has some interesting sights and sounds.  Speaking of sights...........................are those sheep I spy?
Yep.  The irony of this is that .................
..................cyclists are sort of like sheep.  We tend to bundle together in large flocks and stay that way with the occasional sheep or two going astray (breakaway). Interesting how life imitates itself on many different levels.
Similar to the straying sheep, here is how the race finished............with two sheep, I mean cyclists getting away and sprinting for the win with the entire peloton barreling down the road to sprint it out for the remaining places.  This is about the time I put it into cruise control and stay out of the way to live to race another day.
Like the next day, at the Land's Park Criterium. Not much news to report on the victory front, but the racing legs will come around soon enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rated XXX Chef, sometimes you just can't find the "Kiss the Chef" apron and you have to improvise. At least the food wasn't gross. Enough said.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Restaurant Experience: Bistro Jeanty!

Introdution to Table Service has been a fun class, but sometimes you got to get out and see how service works from the customer perspective.  Field Trip it is! Off to Bistro Jeanty in Yountville to compare our service abilities with those of Napa Valley service professionals. Oh yeah, and to eat.  That is kind of what we culinary school kids like to do after all.
I have had the priviledge to eat in a lot of French bistro's, both in France and here in America, and I would say that Bistro Jeanty ranks pretty high on the list regarding staying true to the roots of the bistro concept. Enough about my opinions, back to the food.  From left to right: Salade aux Lardons et Oeuf Mollet (Escarole and Soft Boiled Egg Salad with a Warm Apple Smoked Bacon Dressing), Langue D'Agneau (Warm Lamb Tongue and Potato Salad), Salad de Gesiers (Frisee and Duck Gizzards with Toasted Hazelnuts and Mustard Dressing), and Terrine de Lapin (Homemade Rabbit Pâté with a Celery Root Apple Salad and Mustard Dressing).
Next up, the warm appetizers! Soupe A L'Oignon (Caramelized Onion Soup with Gruyère Cheese), Petit Sale aux Lentilles (Pork belly with a Lentil and Foie Gras Ragout), Creme de Tomate en Croute (Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry), and Quenelles de Brochet (Pike Dumplings with Lobster Sauce).

One of my favorite menu items of the day was the Roasted Bone Marrow with Veal Jus and Crostini. Although presented in a playful manner, marrow is not for the squemish of stomach! But if it makes you feel better, bone marrow is one of the most nutritionally dense things you could ever eat next to a Centrum. Don't think too hard, just eat it!
One of my least favorite items on the menu was the Escargots with Garlic Pastis Butter. It doesn't matter if it is a Twizzler, I can't stand anything that tastes like licorice, even delicious fatted-farm raised snails from France.
Not many of us had room left for entrees, but if you don't order it, you can't try it. Côtes de Boeuf à la Printanière (Braised Beef Shortrips with Potato Puree and Spring Vegetables), Rognons de Veau au Poivre Vert (Veal Kidneys with a Creamy Green Peppercorn Sauce), and Cassoulet (Baked beans with Duck Confit, Sausage and Apple Smoked Bacon). That's right kidneys. Unless I need one donated, I am never going to ask for kidneys again.
At this point in the meal, we all started to realize that our dress pants didn't have the much needed elastic waistband like our chef pants. But, that never stopped any of us from ordering dessert before.  Here is the signature Bistro Jeanty dessert of Tarte Tatin with Creme Fraiche. Put a fork in us, we are done.  Oh yeah, the service was really good too. I think that is why we came in the first place.  Even so, compliments to the chef first and foremost. Merci beau coup Bistro Jeanty.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Pelligrino Almost-Famous Chef People's Choice Awards!

Welcome to the 2010 Pelligrino Almost-Famous Chef People's Choice Awards! Whew, I could use a drink of water after saying all that. This culinary competition was held at the CIA-Greystone campus and included over a dozen of the most promising and talented student chefs in the country and abroad. Ironically, no CIA-based student culinarians were apart of the competition which seemed odd considering our school is hosting the event and the CIA has a pretty good reputation of producing highly-skilled young chefs.
Anyway, the events were hosted by cookbook author and culinary personality (what is that actually?) Katie Lee, and former Hell's Kitchen contestant, Chef Ralph Pagano. Not to knock it, but the setup kind of resembled a Kobe Bryant post-game interview with that huge logo board as the backdrop.
Here are all the dishes that were entered into the competition by the various participants.  Perhaps it would be better if we got a closer look at these and even had a bite or two before we cast our vote for the winner.
Pan Seared Crusted Loin of Lamb.
Bacon wrapped-Halibut.
Chicken Supreme with Cajun Risotto Fritter.
From Student Competitor Timothy DeVore, Sumac Seared Duck Breast with Braised Duck Leg and Juniper Berry Reduction, served with Parsnip Puree, Swiss Chard, Chinese Celery Pesto and Micro Bulls Blood Greens.
From Student Competitor Amanda Digges, she prepared a Cake of Shredded Breast of Cornish Game Hen and Farro, Resting on a Puree of Golden Beets, Topped with a Farro Crisp and a Slice of Sausage, Laced with a Sage & Cognac Jus Lie. Accompanied by a Salad of Walnuts, Cranberries, and Apples nestled in a Brussel Sprout Petal and accented by Mustard Horseradish Micro Greens.
Seared Pork Belly with Crispy Onion Fries.
From Student Competitor Justine de Valicourt, Red Deer Duo served with Mashed Jersusalem Artichoke and Saute of Vegetables.
From Student Competitor Dan Luckey, Seared Ostrich Loin with Glazed Baby Beets, Grilled Black Trumpet Polenta, and Juniper Berry Sauce. Whew, ostrich in a cooking competiton sounds like a difficult sale to me. Bravo for going out on a limb Chef!
All the way from Italy, Student Competitor Laura Torresin produced Seasonal Vegetables, Lentils on Carasau Bread, with Salted Anchovies, Bottarga, Black Pepper and Basil Sauce, Cruncy Sea Bream with a Hot Vegetable Consomme.
From Student competitor Luis Young, Herb Scented Seared Venison Tenderloin with Parsnip Puree and Apple Demi covered by a Cider Jelly Sheet and Accented with a Cinnamon Tea Foam finished with Micro Greens. Oh man, that was pretty good!  Let's go check out who made that!
Of all the dishes, I felt like Luis Young's most captivated my palate. Not only that, the dish had a lot of very technical elements to it that displayed his creativity and technical skill.  I think I am going to give him my vote for the People's Choice Award.
Back to the post-game press conference, I mean awards ceremony.  And the winner is...................
Luis Young from Johnson & Wales University - North Miami! And yes, that check amount is correct, $10,000! Great job Luis and best of luck in your career. It was a pleasure to be a part of the event and taste all of the competitors food. Good show Pellegrino!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Banquet & Catering: The Action Station!

We concluded Banquet & Catering and I will admit, it was a little bit bittersweet. This would mark the last day in the Teaching Kitchen for AOS 6.  We had learned Fish & Meat Fab, Skills, Cuisines from Around the World, and even how to Bake a little bit in this kitchen. With this being our last day before we are sent down to the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, it might as well be as action packed as possible.
Every good buffet needs an Olive, Meat, and Cheese Corner. Everybody loves the do-it-yourself factor of an action buffet and our guests were no different.
When the guests weren't grazing the buffet, they were welcomed to create their own action-packed Fish Tacos.
If they prefered not to perform the action themselves, we were more than happy to perform the action for them.  Here the team makes some Okonomyahki, Osaka style, with Shrimp and Veal Breast for our ever-appreciative audience. 
That about does it from the Teaching Kitchen. I am not for sure how to capture life in the WSGR but I will try to do my best. Six weeks in the front-of-the-house and six weeks in the back-of-the-house. That equals a grand total of twelve weeks till graduation in May.  By that time, I'll be more focused on buying-a-house.