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September 25 1998
Are you talkin' ta me?
you must be talkin' ta me

The task of the day:

Cakes, Torts, and Tarts

Today ended the cakes class. All in all, it was a pretty decent week. Dan and I today finished off some mousse cakes, glazing them with a mango mirror glaze. As the name suggests, it's pretty clear, but colored, and very shiny. Mirror glaze is made from sugar and fruit puree, and when cool, sets up into a gell because you mix in some "neutral glaze" which contains more sugar and pectin. I wasn't a big fan of our chosen flavors. Being late in the week, we didn't have much choice -- banana, white peach, or mango. I think something like chocolate and raspberry would have been much better. We used mango mouse on the bottom, and white peach in a second layer on top of that. The sides were lined with ladyfingers (which we had made the day before). Yellow mango glaze on top, with red raspberries in a garnish. It did look very cool.

We also finished some pativias, which are spiral tarts named for a town in France. They're made from puff pastry, and so rise up very neat when you bake them. Dan and I both did a stellar job of scoring the tops into a traditional wagon wheel pattern. Marla thought it looked pretty cool when I brought it home. I hope the picture that I took of it came out, because it looked pretty darn professional.

* * *

Dan and I had a run-in today with another class member. I've talked before about the "clean as you go" concept. Dan and I both are pretty big followers of it, and as a result, we tend to be done early and cleaner than most people. I'm sure folks like Carol who have seen me work at home would disagree about this. But working in a "real" kitchen make you undergo some pretty radical changes fairly fast. Dan and I also work through lunch (so we can finish more stuff than was originally assigned), and usually wash dishes and sweep floors during that time. We've also done quite a few dishes and pans that belong to other people. In other words, we certainly have held up our end of the "working together" bargain.

Dan and I were clean and done about 45 minutes before the class was to end. All we had left to do was take some pans out of the oven, turn them out, and wash the pans. Our work surface was totally wiped down, and all of our personal tools put away and ready to go. Being the last class day, we took the chance to rest from a series of pretty well done jobs. From the other side of the room, we hear, "Are the girls doing all of the washing, again?" Dan was livid. This was said by a person who works very messy and never cleans as they go. Here we were being accused of not doing our own dishes, when the fact was that we had done ours plus about half of the rest of the groups.

I think Dan was about two seconds away from punching this person. It was like a scene from a Robert DeNiro flick. "What did you say?" "I know you said something, cause I heard you talking." Wow.

Dan's a bit of a hothead, but he's got a right to be angry about this. Most days, when cleaning and sweeping is being done, about 50% of the class is standing in groups talking while the rest of us are cleaning. Today I watched dozens of people ignore three huge chocolate bowls for half an hour. Our team didn't even use chocolate, so I wasn't about to jump in there and clean up that mess. As it was, I did scrape and wipe down and put away the marble chocolate slab (with Dan's help, because it weighs about 100 pounds).

I hope Dan and I work together for the remaining two weeks. We've got a pretty similar working style, both are here pretty seriously, and both want to try to do and learn as much as possible. We also seem to get along pretty well on a personal level. The other thing that helps is that once you've been working in a class for a bit, you get to understand the work patterns and so you do a better job. When you're on a team with someone who is new for the week, they take a few days to really settle in.

* * *

Meriko and Russell came into town today. I picked them up at the train station and we walked around the school. It was the start of PM classes, so we didn't get to see too much cool stuff going on. But, all of the kitchens are pretty interesting the first time you see them. Chef Smythe was hanging out, so we talked with him for a bit. And Chef Luguri (who Marla had for Meat Fab) waved us into the fab room and talked as well. Plus he showed us the freezer full of meat sides. Cool.

Went to dinner up in Red Hook. Hung out at the bar playing Take Two (a game played with Scrabble tiles that's loads more fun). Jason (the bartender) was very into the game, as were the owner and the owner's wife. It's a nice fun relaxed kind of place that usually isn't very crowded. Last night a pile of people decided to show up for some reason. But it was still a very fun time. And, of course, the Caesar Salad was the best ever.

After dinner, we came back to the house and hung out for a bit with Marla. She told some typical culinary stories (and became worried she was boring the guests) and we all ate the pativia that I made today. It was good, but I think next time I'll add more fruit to it. Russell also attempted to fend of attention by Milla (the dog, for those of you not following). But Milla's pretty good at finding the person in the room who can't say no.

Dropped meriko and Russell at the lovely and charming Super 8 motel and came back here. Although it's very late, I'm not tired. I wonder if all of those naps have maybe caught up with me.

* * *

Tomorrow we're headed into the city to eat at Quilty's (where Marla works, so we can stick our heads into the kitchen) and catch Blue Man Group (a musical performance art thingie). Tom's big plan is to also find some kind of chinese food to eat. Preferably something hot.

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy