What a joy to be back in the kitchen this week without the stress of exams at the same time, and just to be able to enjoy learning.
This week kicked off with a bit of a different day - wine tasting, to get a WSET Level One Award in wines. Personally, I am not a massive fan of wines in general, I'm a much bigger fan of any other drink pairings with meals; one of the many reasons I'd really love to go to noma is their juice pairings. That said, I did definitely enjoy the day, and there were definitely some wines that I would choose again. The morning was mainly spent learning about the processes that go into making different types of wine, and the differences between wines. The afternoon was spent tasting 11 wines of varying types, to appreciate how even within the same brackets (red, white, rose, sparkling, sweet, fortified etc), the flavours could be completely distinct. We then took a multiple choice exam on everything we'd learnt, which we should get the results for in about a month.
Back in the kitchen today, in a day fully focused on canapes. The morning was the following:
Smoked trout with new potatoes, watercress and horseradish
Smoked mackerel lollipops with pickled fennel and apple, lemon puree
Beetroot and goats curd samosa
Maple glazed pork belly with apple puree and sage
Salsify with smoked salmon, lemon, thyme and dill creme fraiche
The afternoon was a bit of a beige buffet:
Crispy pig's ear goujons with tartare sauce
Celeriac and truffle parcels with pea puree
Red pepper tuiles
Confit lamb pakoras with rhubarb
The afternoon's food wasn't my favourite; I think maybe it was just a bit too much deep frying for me? But maybe I just needed more sauce. I was pleasantly surprised by the pig's ear though; It had a nice crisp texture to it, and the crackling that was mixed into the pane breadcrumbs added a nice salty element to it.
Wednesday was the first day of game cookery this week, and we butchered both rabbits (which were surprisingly very easy) and pigeons. Most of the rabbit went into a game pie mix along with venison haunch and bacon lardons, whilst the other half was saved for a rabbit cobbler. We also began prepping for Thursday's very pastry heavy day, making the puff pastry and doing the first few sets of turns, and making the milk curd for pastel de natas. Lunch was pigeon breast, apple puree, caramelised walnuts (which it turns out are an absolute pain to peel) and raisins macerated in port. We also made traditional tuiles in the afternoon, served with a mango sorbet.
Today was the longest day in the kitchen here so far, but for that, we did make a very large amount, and variety, of food. Lunch was the rabbit cobbler we had started yesterday, with a topping of savoury scones. For service, we made a pastry selection of the following; wild mushroom puff pastry box, gateau pithivier, apple tart tatin with calvados custard (which included a very exciting brandy flambe), raspberry mille-feuille and pastel de natas. It did feel like a bit of a shame to be back rolling the puff pastry I'd spent so long making for the tart tatin, mille-feuille and natas, but I was pretty happy with the final results. We also finished off the game pie to eat on Friday.
Another fascinating enrichment day today, off to Clinton Estates to learn about venison. The very friendly and talkative gamekeeper, Tom, took us through the whole process of deer culling; the need for it, how it's monitored and how they make sure it is done in the most humane way possible. We then watched him skin a deer that had been hung for a few weeks, before returning to school to eat the aforementioned game pie, and watch the deer carcass being butchered and cooked for us to try.