Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Internship: Day 8, 10/26/05

Busy, busy lunch today. I’m glad I didn’t go out the night before because it would be bad to be brain-dead when I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing. I already feel like I might be coming down with a cold, which might explain Monday’s fuzziness. One of the girls in pastry thinks she has the flu—she had to leave early on Monday. I’ve been tired for really no reason, although that could just be the beginning of burnout. I haven’t had a full day off now for two and a half weeks. My schedule feels considerably lighter this quarter, but I still tend to have something to do every day—school, work, or internship. However, I’ve unexpectedly got this Thursday off (my class at the Chopping Block got cancelled) and I took this weekend off for Halloween. So I should, in theory anyway, be able to get some rest. I really hope I’m not getting sick.

I was supposed to work hot side of the pantry for lunch, but since it was so busy that didn’t really happen. I did handle most of the cold dishes, though, and I think I’m slowly improving. I made a few hot dishes when things calmed down. I made the scallop appetizer for my own lunch: seared Maine diver scallops with local apples, celeriac, summer truffles, and honey butter:

Setup was still bewildering. I’d like to plan a day where I come in extra early and set up myself just to see how it goes. I’ll have to talk to T about that next week.

After service, I had the interesting job of prepping the rabbit sausage. I diced rabbit meat, pork butt, fatback, and guanciale, which is meat from the cheek of the pig that’s been cured. M was making the cure mixture for the new batch of cheeks, and while I didn’t see the whole recipe, I know there was freshly ground nutmeg and cloves in there. It smelled like Christmas.

I also made a batch of Sherry Vinaigrette before I left: shallots, El Mjuelo Vinagre de Jerez, honey, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, and thyme. It was really good—I’ll probably try to recreate that one at home. I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp of what really good vinaigrette should taste like.


Foodie Word of the Day

Guanciale [gwahn-TCHAH-leh] Meat from the cheek of a pig, guanciale (from guancia, meaning cheek) is rubbed lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper or chili pepper, then cured for three months. It is very common in the cooking of central Italy, particularly Latium, where it flavors numerous pasta sauces. Since it is rarely available outside Italy, pancetta - an Italian cured meat similar to bacon but not smoked - can be used instead. Bacon will do in a pinch.

Definition compliments of La Cucina Italiana On Line.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Internship: Day 7, 10/24/05

Nice, relatively relaxed day, but I felt really fuzzy for most of it. Maybe it was just the overcast weather, I don’t know. I was responsible for all of the cold appetizers today, and I think I did okay. I’m getting more of a grasp of the dishes, but I still don’t have much of a flow on the line as far as timing goes. T still pretty much has to orchestrate and let me know when I should do what. He’s also started teaching me how to set up before service. Again, it’s a lot of information and I’m not sure how I’ll ever get it straight.

A previous intern from the CIA came in for lunch, and a lot of effort was put into making special dishes for him. It was fun to watch the Sous Chef dress up the dishes. A food writer was also in, and that caused a little bit of commotion. He came and complemented the staff on a job well done, though, so a good impression must have been made.

After service I helped with the pig-picking and patty-making for a party. I actually watched D butcher the pig last Wednesday. It was pretty freaky watching him cut the head off, and then having a little pig face staring up at me from the table while I worked. It looked like it was smiling. I kept thinking of Babe. Oddly, I like butchering—I like participating in the food preparation as early in the process as possible (although I don’t know if I would be able to kill an animal). That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s comfortable—I just like having the knowledge.