All posts filed under: Study Abroad

Gastronomicom Week 11: Final Chocolate Week

It is with surprise that I write that I am sad that my final week of chocolate has ended. I know, I know–what spirit has possessed me and is forcing me to write that I enjoyed chocolate week, right? Well, its true. This past chocolate week was filled with not only amazing recipes, but also with amazing teamwork and camaraderie between the students and our Chef. Structured like entremets/plated desserts week this time—we finished approximately one completed dessert per day which was built using several recipes, ingredients and textures. By now we are capable enough to handle putting several recipes into one dish—we can temper chocolate without having Chef glued to our sides and we are slightly faster at preparing things like our ingredients and completing recipes. Monday we went back to the techniques from the “snickers” from the last chocolate week,  since it hadn’t gone perfectly last time for most of the students but everyone still enjoyed the flavor and the process. This time our creation had an almond twist, and a reconstructed dough …

Gastronomicom Week 10: Final Entremets Week

So either Chef enjoys watching me squirm or the school is secretly plotting against me, because when I walked into pastry class on Friday Chef announced that I was in charge…of the class. But I’m four desserts and days ahead of myself, so let me go back to Monday. Monday was not just the start of a new week for us, it was the morning after the Étoiles de Mougins gastronomic festival–where I went for the weekend along with some other students to watch our Chef compete and participate in some demonstrations. Needless to say, Chef was running on about two hours of sleep after a very busy weekend, and some of the rest of us still hadn’t switched back from our weekend-vacation mindset. Luckily we only had four recipes to prepare–two types of sanded dough, our flan filling, and the base of our caramel crunch. Probably because we only had four recipes to complete within two and a half hours, and for the most part they were simple and self explanatory, we all worked …

Gastronomicom Week 8: Plated Desserts Week

I was so looking forward to plated desserts week ever since the last plated desserts week ended. Of course, it just had to come with another test. This time we knew about the test the week before, so that we could do our best to prepare recipes in accordance with the theme at hand–which was a dessert that represents memories of summer in our countries and cultures of origin. I spent most of the weekend designing a s’mores themed dessert–because besides donuts what is more American than bonfires and marshmallow induced sugar highs? But when I talked to chef about the recipe and he asked if I was going to incorporate any fruit, I tried to find a way to mix another flavor into my design for hours before scrapping the entire idea in favor of a new one. Something so simple I hadn’t given it real thought. Pie. So while I regale you with stories and pictures of the other amazing desserts we made Monday through Thursday, just know that while all this is happening …

Gastronomicom Week Seven: Chocolate Week

Chocolate, my new arch nemesis, has returned. On Monday we first tackled two types of dough to use later in the week before getting anywhere near chocolate, which I was grateful for. But then we moved on to tempering chocolate in order to make some spiced chocolate bars–and somewhere between going to get a thermometer and putting my chocolate in the top of my double boiler, all my confidence went completely out the window. In theory, I understand that chocolate needs to be tempered in order for the correct crystal structures to form, leading to a stronger, shinier chocolate that doesn’t melt at room temperature or when you slightly touch it. But that doesn’t stop my exasperation of needing to temper chocolate, and watch with anxiety as the thermometer somehow jumps from 40 degrees C to 60 degrees C in seconds–when I am aiming for my chocolate to cap out around 55. Chef just looks at his chocolate and knows what temperature it is. I think he might have super powers. The tablet we made turned …

Gastronomicom Week Six: Entremets Week

Guess who has another test in pastry this week? *inserts hysterical laughter* Yeah, its me. And before that, each day will hopefully see the completion of one entire entremets. The one recipe that isn’t able to be made within one class time is the inverted puff pastry–which needs two days to rest in the fridge–so we started off our week by gathering the ingredients for that recipe as well as for the rest of the recipes for todays Strawberry Entremets. Much like with plated dessert week, each team of two people was in charge of one recipe which would later be added to the larger, complete cake. My lovely partner and I were in charge of the Vanilla Biscuit–which smelled like absolute heaven! The recipe originally called for vanilla beans, but instead we used a really good quality vanilla extract. And let me tell you, it was liberally added to the biscuit. I kind of wanted to stick my face into the bowl directly, but I refrained. After the biscuit was completed, we went table to table …

Gastronomicom Week Five: Bread Week

We have returned to bread week. And I feel a little bit like the unofficial mother of my classroom. That wasn’t on purpose, but we got a new batch of students starting today and there were four new people in the class. Obviously I spent half of my time wondering if they were doing okay, and after repetitively asking one of the students if she was doing alright Chef told me in exasperation that I was being like a mother and that the other students were fine. Oops. Anyway. With the chaos of adding students into our already very tentatively formed class ecosystem, we moved with the pace of slugs the entire class. Understandably the new students didn’t know where any of the tools or ingredients were–as I didn’t know even just a few weeks ago–and actions and processes I have now done a handful of times were completely new as well. Also as you may remember, bread is not my forte. Like, not even a little bit. And after the creative happy place that …