Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Holy Hole In a Donut Batman...

What a (uneventful)Vacation that was!

I swear if sitting on your A*# doing nothing was an Olympic sport Id have the gold medal after that marathon.

But seriously, nothing really overly exciting to report on that front except maybe some good times spent with some good friends.

On my way to returning to school I may a short stop at my friends’ house to see their brand new shiny baby girl..

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..Now normally I don’t fall into that trap of "Oh it’s the cutest baby ever!" but I have to admit, between the fire red hair and the big wide cute a button eyes this baby could melt even the coldest heart.

During my short stay my friend decided he wanted to BBQ, stating that "It’s not no fancy meal, but hell it’s BBQ".

He must know that after vanilla soft serve and sorbet, BBQ is my third Kryptonite.

He greeted me with corn soaking in the sink and fresh turkey burgers/dogs in the fridge. I was very pleasantly surprised to notice that he knew the old Keep the husk on and soak it before grilling it trick.

He bought the corn at a local farmers market/farm stand and I have to say it had to have been some of the juiciest, most flavorful, tongue pleasing corn I have had in a long long long long time.

We stayed on the topic of corn for awhile, me bringing up what I’ve read in Omnivores Dilemma about the subject (which by the way I have yet to finish but love), and hung around talking about food for some time.

I think one of the best discussions we had was about eating out and rating the places we eat. Me being, well me, tend to look at every detail from service to the food itself picking apart and formulating opinion on every aspect. Where as he made it a point to state he focused on mostly how service is handled and upon receiving his food tends "to shovel it away without any real regard to the finer details" (if I so may paraphrase).

All in all it was 3 weeks of mindless, brain cell killing, agonizing boredom in which had its great moments.

It’s always a good feeling though, and one I haven’t had the joy of having for some time, to sit down with people whose company you enjoy and to just talk and eat.

But in the end, like with all things the quiet serenity of long boring summer days spent hiding from the heat and humidity fade away like a setting sun into the return of the norm.

And I’m back, worrying about grades, stressing out about money, and diving head first into bake shop.

..and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Terrible News.

I just heard about this not a minute after posting an update and thought it was prudent to repost.

Grant Achatz diagnosed with advanced stage of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth..

Only 33 years old... Man I really hate cancer.

Well Ill be pulling for you chef.. Best of luck in your battle.

The End is Near!

Reporting in from the field...

A whole lot of nothing exciting happening here really. 5 Days remain on summer break and honestly I cant wait to return to school. Theres nothing worse then being pennyless, jobless, and bored out of your mind.. but for 3 weeks straight? oh the humanity!

Hopefully Ill have something interesting to return to.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Blow This Popsicle Stand!

Im out for break for 3 weeks. Im going to bury myself in books, food, and hopefully work.

Not sure if Ill have access to the internet(s) so I hope you all have a great 3 weeks and hope you have some great meals!

See you all in 3 weeks!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Its not fair, there was time now.. there was time..."

I havent had a summer reading list for a long time (Since my post High School days I think) So with a sale at the bookstore to egg me on I made a few purchases that I will tackle over the break.

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Ive wanted to read it for awhile, and managed to get the introduction read over lunch. If the introduction is anything like the main body of text Im gonna love this book.

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Now normaly I dont buy cookbooks (Most of the ones I have are issued from school or gifts) but much like my weakness for Sorbet I also have a weakness for Amuse. Theres something about making a bite sized dish that drives me bonkers. I really think it can show your skill and knowledge of flavors. So I paged through this one and grabbed it, a impulse buy really but it looks like it might be worth it.

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Oh the joys of "Required Reading". Summer break is never really a Break. A shopping list of material to read up on before classes resume at full spead at the end of the month.

And lastly I want to share with you a rather amusing photo I found while looking for a decent picture of Omnivores Dilemma.

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I guess not even PETA is above using sex to sell.....

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Whats the Difference?

I was off on a rant, as I often tend to do, yesterday about sorbet. Vie been excited to break out and try the Ice Cream Machine that arrived yesterday and I was talking with some people about what to make first.

Again, like so many times before, it came to raise the question:

"So what’s the difference between Sorbet, Ice Cream, and Sherbet"

I’ve actually run into this question allot, and for the longest time I never really knew or understood the science behind it. A few years ago I did allot of digging around about the subject and found, of course, numerous different takes on the answer.

The one answer I found most common, and makes the most sense to me is as follows:

Sorbet- Frozen desert made with sweetened fruit juices or puree and water. Contains no dairy. Usually a cleaner, crisper taste then Ice Cream or Sherbet.

Sherbet- Like a sorbet, usually sweetened fruit juices or purees. Contains more sugar but less dairy then Ice cream.

Ice Cream- Sweetened Milk and cream, sugar, and flavorings.

Now both Sorbets and Ice Cream can sometimes contain Eggs that work as an emulsifier to help keep the desert smooth and creamy. If Ice Cream contains Egg you’ll probably see it called a French Ice Cream.

Now that we have the air cleared about what makes each their own, the next common question asked is:

So why sorbet over Ice Cream?

Well for me, I love the light taste of sorbet. It doesn’t melt down heavily on your tongue, it coats your mouth with flavor but it’s cool and crisp unlike Ice Cream that tends to coat and stick around.

It’s kind of like having a burst of intense flavor for a good minute, and then it passes leading your taste buds screaming for more, or in the best cases something else.

I really like to include sorbets in dinners I plan because if done well they can really allow the diner to experience the full flavor of the dish served after.
Serve someone a very light lemon sorbet, or better yet a simple vanilla bean sorbet followed by a dish of Tuna Tartar or Salmon and watch the look on their face when they take that first bite of fish.

The scientific explanation for this is that when you introduce something sweet to your tongue the "Sweet" taste buds come to attention. When these buds become active they also trigger the other buds to kind of wake up. Sweet is one of the first tastes we perceive when young. Mostly for survival really, we need sugars when young in order to survive, hence why baby formula is so sweet and breast milk contains high levels of glucose. As such we identify with sweets more commonly then any other flavor, you can find someone on the street that doesn’t like salty or loves it, same with bitter.. but good luck finding someone who will actually turn down sweet because they "Don’t like it".

So that should give you an idea of why I’m so gung-ho about Sorbets.

And to finish up I answer the one last question most asked when we talk about these frozen deserts:

"Vanilla or Chocolate"

Vanilla... but that’s an explanation for another day...

For a Brief Moment...

I knew the man only briefly.

I had returned to campus after a year and half rehab from my accident. My foot and leg still gave me alot of trouble and one day on the way to class my ankle gave out on me.
As I leaned against the wall in the main hall nursing the pain enough to continue walking he approached me and asked if I was ok.

My reply of course was yes, and a small conversation about what was wrong, my accident, and what I planned to do career wise followed. All in all it lasted maybe 5 minutes.

Yet, in that 5 minutes I felt from him more concern and general caring about me and my situation then I had experienced from anyone since my accident in the culinary field.

His name was Chef Prem Kumar. A great man.

Chef Kumar lost a battle with cancer this past June, leaving a rather big hole in the Culinary Institute of America campus. A memorial service was held in the library yesterday to honor his memory and his family.

I knew the man was loved, but the turnout at the service was more then I honestly expected. Hell, its probably hypacritical of me to even say that, seeing as though I spoke to the man directly once, and for five minutes yet I was there to honor him as well.

The one thing I noticed most was the fact that every single student from India who attends class here was there, sitting right up front with pride. The man was both a mentor and a inspiration for these students, to come so far from home to learn more about what they love.

I feel it proper to mention him here, for the man was kind and from what I gather a good man. I wish that I had time to speak to him more, but thats the curse of cancer. It takes from us, and its not till after that we regret not doing, saying, or being more.

I hope that I remember the kindness he showed me in the brief moment we met for the rest of my life, and I use that moment for humility for the rest of my days.

Long live the memory of the good, the kind, and the honest man. For this life is in need of memories of such men.

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Let them eat Ice Cream... and Sorbets... and Sherberts...

My love for frozen sweets knows no end. Anyone who knows me will tell you Im fanatical about frozen sweets, most particular Sorbets.

Only fueling this lust for iced goodies my roommate just HAD to go and purchase and Ice Cream machine.

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Its a Cuisinart ICE-30BC (Before Cream?). We broke it out of the box to ooh and ahh at it upon its arrival yesterday but havent used it yet. I plan on breaking this baby in tomorrow.

I had to write a menu a few weeks ago for a class and in the desert section I put a few sorbets that I want to try out.

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry and Shortcake-Infused Sorbets
Vanilla-Champagne Sauce
Sprinkled Lightly with Toasted Almonds

Coffee and Mascarpone Sorbet
Served with Lady Fingers
Dusted with Cocoa

I know how Ill tackle the shortcake and the mascarpone sorbet, but what illudes me is the coffee sorbet.

Ive been racking my brain on how to do this for the last couple days. Best I can come up with is do a basic sorbet and add ground coffee or Steep some coffee grounds in the simple sugar solution and strain.

Im still working out the details but man oh man I want to go all Dr. Frankenstein with this Ice Cream Machine.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Shoutout Sunday: Double Duty Edition

Gonna kill two birds with one stone today...

Shoutout Sunday:

Via Googlemail alerts comes The French Laundry At Home. This site popped up while Ive been watching my googlemail alerts for tags associated with Foie Gras. After poking through the blog Ive really come to appreciate what shes doing here. Shes not a chef, nor does she even work in a restaurant, but as a food lover shes trying to tackle most of, if not all, the recipies found in The French Laundry Cookbook.

Im gonna be watching this one closely to see how she does, Kudos to her for actually making the effort to not only make these recipies but document them the best she can via the blog.

Movie Review:

I use the term review lightly, cause its just my opinion but..

If you have yet to see Ratatouille... GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!

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Its cute, heartwarming, funny and best part is you dont even have to work in the buisiness to appreciate all the little things about it. The critics are saying its probably the best Pixar film to date, Im going to have to agree with them there. I really did enjoy it from start to finish.