A Minda Kuddled Food Week - Culinary School Diaries, Week 6
Week 6's food was very varied, both in ingredients and in the quality of my creations. After a bit of back-in-the-kitchen nerves on Monday, I really enjoyed this week, as it was a lot of my favourite ingredients; duck breast in particular was a highlight this week. We also started to look further abroad in flavour profiles, which I personally was a big fan of.
A strange morning today, consisting of making chocolate chip cookie dough, as well as marinating duck legs and creating a mussel and cockle fricassee with sea bass, very much hammering home skills from weeks before, in preparation for its recreation in the week 8 exam. As per usual, Monday afternoon was a theory session, looking at our assignment, duck butchery and prepping us for some research on fish farming and seafood, to be debated next week.
Some excellent food today, notably the lunch of pan roasted duck breast, beetroot and potato rosti, bok choi, banana shallots and honey and ginger jus, with ground Thai rice. We also were introduced to one of our exam dishes today, the chocolate negus. For those of you, like myself, who have never heard of this creation before, this is an incredibly rich dessert of thin layers of chocolate sponge sandwiching chocolate mousse, with a chocolate ganache on top. We served it today alongside a cocoa nib tuile and pistachio sorbet.
Wednesday was our first field trip as a cohort, off to Brixham fish market. Despite the ungodly hours of a 4:00 wake up, the whole experience of exploring the market was really quite eye opening; if nothing else, just to see the shear amount of fish and seafood being processed each day. I also really appreciated it from a chef's point of view, to be able to see properly fresh fish, and to gain a better understanding of the telltale signs to be looking for when looking at purchasing fish from fishmongers. Whilst I learnt a lot about all sorts of seafood, the highlight, however, was the friendly local seal, who came to visit us, and definitely not just for the fact that we were throwing him some small red snapper.
Oh, and a massive fry up at a little cafe in Brixham.
On return to school, we pocket filleted some plaice (essentially turning the flesh into a glove, with the bones and guts removed), and made some brownies.
Thursday included my favourite, and my least favourite, courses to date. The least favourite dish was a baked whole plaice stuffed with a brown shrimp and salmon souffle mousseline, turned cucumber, girolles and dill beurre blanc. Whilst I am a bit of a sucker for nice mushrooms (and these girolles were great), I really just didn't understand the dish. For me, the addition of the egg whites to the mousseline just took out too much flavour from the dish, and I didn't think the place had enough flavour really, despite a whole lot of seasoning.
The favourite dish, however, was really quite something; pan dried pork loin chop, sauteed greens, potato gnocchi and gorgonzola sauce, with freshly made crackling. Whilst initially worried that my gnocchi were a little soft, the texture actually ended up complementing the rest of my meal really well, and the pungency of the gorgonzola rounded off the meal with a really nice finish.
Dessert was the brownie made yesterday with a very lovely Tia Maria ice cream.
Using some confit duck legs from Tuesday, we made duck leg tortelli with hazelnuts and a sage and lemon butter for lunch. Today's service dish was a galantine of quail with herb mousseline, sweet wine sauce, cabbage and Parisienne potatoes. A nice dish, but I just take issue with any meal involving the painstaking process that is peeling grapes. We also made some very lovely apple strudels, which for some reason, most of the class were not massive fans of. I, however, love strudel, and ended up taking 4 home and devouring them over the course of the next few days.