The Longest Day    

July 22 1998
Dinner of Champions
45 Sauces Plus Bread

The task of the day:

4 more sauces

Today we finished up the Grand Sauce part of our class. This involved the production of still more sauces, plus the finishing of the ones we did the days before. Just before dinner, we presented all of the sauces to the rest of the class. On the table before us were 45 different sauces that the class had made. Sheash.

Amazingly enough, the sauces all pretty much turned out good. Even some of the ones that we were dreading having to taste got positive comments from the Chef. Maybe we are starting to understand this stuff after all. The day ended on a very up note, and while it was complete kaos there for a while, we actually got out before 9 tonight.

But, because we were standing around tasting all of our work, we missed dinner basically. It was catch as catch-can, and we swipped sushi from the Asian Cuisine class. There's always food around here to eat if you look even slightly. We've also learned that peering mournfully in one of the bakeshop windows will usually get you a roll or a small cake or whatnot. Milli is very thin, but I've never seen anyone eat so much in my life. She's always hustling someone for pastries. Ed and I generally stay away from them. I will admit a weakness for the bread, however. Today the bakeshop was making brioche, I had three.

* * *

Afterwards, our group took the Chef out for a beer at a local brew pub. Their porter in particular was very good, but I was drinking Stout. The Chef's a very interesting guy. He's been at the CIA for 15 years, but is very easy to talk to about both food and other things. He's a fixture at this bar, and was customer number 8, with his own engraved glass.

* * *

Tomorrow we are doing clear soups:

  • Salmon-Miso Soup (1/2 gallon)
  • Onion Soup (1/2 gallon)
  • Chicken Consommé (1/2 gallon)
  • Scotch Broth (1/2 gallon)

* * *

This should be interesting. Four soups, four burners, lots of steam. It seems very do-able, but alot will depend upon how long lecture goes. The consommé will be tricky with all of the other things going on, and I suppose I should note some things about it.

A consommé is a very clear soup. You get this clarity by taking a clear-ish stock, and then clarifying it with a mixture of egg whites, ground meat (in this case, more chicken), and vegetables. You mix the whole lot together into a white, sticky, meat milkshake, and then stick it on heat. The eggs coagulate and form a "raft" at the top of the soup. You then simmer the soup, and the raft catches up all of the particles in the stock. The result is a very clear soup. Unless something goes wrong, and then you have a big disgusting egg mess.

Unfortunately, about as many things can go wrong as can go right. If you boil it too hard, the raft breaks up and releases the particles back into the soup. If you don't boil it hard enough, the raft doesn't have any "bubbles" to keep it floating. It then sinks, sticks to the bottom, and burns. If you don't stir at the beginning, the eggs don't release from the bottom and burn. If you stir too much, the raft is unstable. If you stir after the raft has formed, it breaks up. If you don't strain carefully, all of your hard work is lost as the soup still comes out cloudy. Since you've put more meat in there, you have to de-grease the soup.

* * *

No cuts so far, but I did manage to burn myself slightly. I don't even recall doing it, but it is definately a burn.

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy