Menu Provence: Lemon Sorbet
I’m not particularly fussed about extreme feminism (or extreme anything-ism for that matter). Having worked in a predominantly male environment during my analyst years I can safely say I have not been directly subjected to any sexism. I’ve been paid well, and at least equal to my male colleagues on the same level. My bosses and colleagues have judged my abilities based on my experience and education (or so I hope), as opposed to my gender. So when I do come across the rare sexist comment not made in jest, by a seemingly educated person, I am rather surprised.
The kitchen gets hot and very sweaty. Things have to get done quickly, simultaneously, and we’ve been cutting and burning ourselves over and over again. Understandably, tensions run high. So when the class’ token under-performing neanderthal gets annoyed when his food turns out looking and tasting like a diseased cow’s cud, instead of taking responsibility of his own actions he gets on the defensive and creates asinine excuses, or barfs out sexist comments. Classic examples:
Chef: “What eez theez?”
D-bag: “Chef, it’s onion soup.”
Chef: “No. What eez theez sheet around the top?” circling his finger around the bowl’s manky rim with burnt cheese and soup slopped around.
D-bag: “Chef, I thought I’d give it a rustic look innit. It looks handmade!”
Chef: “Handmake it at home. Not at restaurant.”
Chef: “Petit cochon! Why is your beench so dirty!”
D-bag: “Chef, it’s other people! They’re coming around and dirtying everything around me. It’s sabotage!” turning to his bench mate, “Stop messing around with my sh!t, man! You work like a woman!”
D-bag’s bench mate: “You talk like a woman!”
I don’t quite think third-party interference would have made much of a difference. His stuff would come out looking like monkey @ss regardless. He gets worked up and throws a few stupid comments out there. Okay. We could deal with that. The girls give him a bit of stick, he apologises, we move on. But during our first sit-down menu (this week’s theme: Provence), he makes himself comfortable and asks the Chef a question in front of the whole seated class, “Is it okay to tell you as soon as possible where I’d like to do my internship?”
Chef: “Oui, of course.”
D-bag: “But the Chef’s a woman.”
Sorry, but the relevance of that comment is lost on me. I was already cranky from my failed attempt at Italian meringue macarons and his imbecilic remark irked me further. I pounced. He got on the defensive. Predictable. Once a neanderthal, always a neanderthal.
I’m grateful that the Provence meal more than made-up for the village idiot. Courses were as follows:
A bit of a disappointing start. I’m not a fan of anchovies (salty, fishy, icky) nor am I a fan of overtly garlic-flavoured stuff. The raw veg was prepped very nicely, but that’s all they were. Raw veg.
Petits Farcis à la Provençale
Tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, onions – stuffed with ham, mushrooms, shallots, and topped with cheese. Totally delish. The meat paired better with the tomatoes, courgettes and onions, and seemed a bit dry along with the aubergines. Isn’t it a pretty plate?
Filets de Rougets à la Crème d’Olive et Marjolaine, Fine Ratatouille
Crispy red skin, tender flesh – the red mullet was amazingly cooked. The ratatouille was cut in a fine brunoise and clearly was a lot of effort but there was just a tad too much olive oil. Can make at home easily. Will make at home easily.
Aïoli de Cabillaud, Epinards Sautes a Cru
Cod is so tricky. Dry, flakey and bland when overcooked, which can be often. I used to think fish n chips, doused in ketchup and vinegar, when I heard cod, as I suspect a lot of other people do. It’s only until recently that I’ve really seen cod in a different light. Almost sweet-tasting, tender buttery segments. This cod, with garlic, butter spinach and poached baby fennel was all of those things.
I was under the impression aïoli was similar to a mustard-mayo. However this one was a bit too potato-mashey in texture, probably owing to the fact that OBOC (over-bearing, over-confident) mashed the potato to death without adding in any yolks or oil for a while.
Daube à la Provençale
This dish took two days of prep. One would have to sympathise with my poor classmate who had been paired up with D-bag for this monstrously laborious dish. I’ve learnt that for all good sauces, its worth lies in its stock. Fond de veau brun (brown veal stock) had to be prepared the day before. The beef took four hours to cook in the oven, during which the garniture for the sauce and the mashed potatoes had to be made. It does not seem as difficult as it does time and effort consuming. It resulted in a delicious, warming, deeply flavoured meat. I thought it was the first beef dish I have enjoyed after the chilli cheeseburger at Breakfast In America on Rue Malher.
The photo above is not of my plate. My dish was plated by d-bag and looked like someone with IBS made himself at home over my plate.
Sorbet Citron and Gros Macarons au Citron
I refuse to call these macarons. What a disappointment. And so totally and utterly embarrassing. I’d been harping on about my macaron skills and how I was so totally over the moon that my macarons at home turned out feety and pretty. This recipe was the Italian meringue recipe. A bit more complicated than the French meringue method, what with checking the sugar syrup temperature and whipping eggs upon cooling the syrup down to a certain temperature, but I felt the basic principles were the same – reduce the level of moisture in the batter, fold the batter just-so. Chef thought differently. He beat the cr@p out of the batter. Till is was running like the Seine. Needless to say, we had burnt, flat cookie shells.
Luckily the sorbet was just what the doctor ordered after a heavy six course meal. It was light and fresh, a bit heavy on the lemons, but still wonderful. Making those cannelles were a bit pesky though, especially when it came to plating them and it taking so long that they started melting into little puddles.
1kg lemons’ juice
1.4 kg water
0.17 glucose atomise
13g Milk powder (0%)
1. Mix together 13g of the sugar, with the stabilisateur and the milk powder.
2. Mix in the water with the remaining sugar and the glucose atomise. Heat to 40C. Whisk in the stabilisateur mixture.
3. Heat the syrup up to 85C.
4. Pour in the lemon juice and cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
5. Pour it into the sorbet maker and whizz for 20 minutes till it turns into a soft sorbet (not too long or it will turn icy).