Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Third session at the French Kitchen

So this time i spent Tuesday night helping out (well, trying not to get in the way) of the wonderful hustle and boisterous bustle of the kitchen. I was greeted with big smiles,which is just simply wonderful. It is often more than i can say for what greets me in my day job! And so a simple beaming smile can win me over. (I am easy to please obviously)

Tuesday night meant a busier night at the restaurant (busier than Monday's anyway) and I had billy idol in the kitchen most times overseeing the crew.

This time, i walked into gospel music blasting on the radio. i looked around to see whether the chefs had changed - but nope , still the same zany bunch. The gospel soon moved on to R&B, which soon moved on Rap - so i knew i was back on familiar ground.

So what did i do this time?
1) I cut chervil into small little leaves (for the garnishing) - watched them soak it in iced water to maintain the freshness

2) I watched one of the chefs make a salad dressing that consisted of throwing 2 shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, some sugar, salt, about 5 almonds, a generous portion of balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a blender - blend it all together. He let me try a taste of it which tasted simply gorgeous. I'm writing it down before i forget. I will certainly try it this weekend.

3) I put a watermelon through a meat slicer, (emptied through the middle so that they sliced into thin watermelon 'rings'). Billy Idol took pity on me looking so useless, hopping gingerly from one foot to the other looking overly eager I'm sure. He asked me to 'do zees' (as he demonstrated the slicer ) - i caught a look of horror cross the pastry chef's face (like she was thinking this was not a job for the novice). but hey I managed!

4) I shaped the watermelon slices into a rose - coiled, layer upon thin layer to form a multi 'petalled' centrepiece - this was the most interesting and fulfilling job for the night!. It really looked like quite a tough little job to be given to me, but Billy idol was kind enough to pretend he had the confidencec in me to try it. And i managed! i was so proud i wanted to point and yell loudly to everyone 'isn't this beautiful? praise and acknowledgement please'! Perhaps there were a few passing looks of approval verging on nonchalance!

So everytime an order came in for watermelon and salmon (it's a starter) - that was my job!

5) I learned how to swoop a squeeze bottle around a round plate to line the inside circle of the plate with yellow sauce (for pure decorational purposes!)
Billy idol would show me how to do it once, then ask me to try. I would try one, make an unsightly mess of it (you would think it'd be a piece of cake, but it's not! Takes a sure hand and some practise), and he would say 'Try another plate. We have lots of plates'. And i would have to pass the plate to the dishwasher, apologizing to him profusely for having to wash it for no good reason at all (apart from my beginner's incompetence). I would finally get one done that got his approval, and i would then be on my way to placing my watermelon flower ornament on my decorated plate.

6) I learned what a 'sweetbread' was. The real food connoiseurs amongst you might be rolling your eyes thinking 'how could you not know this'. Honestly, i thought it was, literally, a 'sweet bread' (and i was wondering why it was the night's special)!
The souz chef disappeared around the corner of the kitchen, returning to show me what it looked like (Raw). Basically, it's a gland in the throat area of an animal like cow, calf, lamb and considered a delicacy. But by appearance alone, it looks like a small organ of sorts, white, wobbling slightly on the tray. not very appetising i have to say! (but then, none of these 'delicacies' usually look all that great)

Billy idol offered me a generous portion after it had been seared on the pan (with a lot of butter I suspect). I took a big bite, with Billy Idol looking on expectantly with pride i felt obliged to say 'hmmm.' (and other enthusiastic yet non committal sounds like that). He said 'taste sweet yes?' to which i replied, well... 'milky' (i'd obviously said the right thing because he nodded enthusiastically and said 'yes, yes!' and i added 'tastes a bit like liver too' and he said'yes yes! becauses it's an organ..'

And hence was my initiation to sweetbread.

7) i tasted organic red grapefruit for the first time. Cold, a juicy explosion of chilled pulp and juice, sweet with a tang of bitterness. Gorgeous as i sucked it's flesh off the skin and let the juices drip down my wrist in all it's pure glory.

The kitchen staff were in good spirits this time - a mad zany bunch where at one point, one of them started moo-ing from his corner, followed by another joining in, and soon i was surrounded by a bunch of guys making 'moo-ing' noises! (i have no idea why!)

I'm looking forward to next week!


  • erm... sweetbread is a gland from the brain, called the thymus. Not from the throat.
    "throat sweetbread" = from the thymus (brain).
    And "stomach sweetbread" = from the pancreas.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:32 PM  

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