Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Your Work is God-Like..."

I can't stop smiling. Yesterday was one of the best days so far in my culinary journey. I still don't think my feet have touched the ground. My current instructor, Chef Casino, said my food was "God-like" or "Heavenly" or "of the Gods". To be honest, I don't remember the exact line. I was too busy glowing from success. But let me start at the beginning so that you can get a fuller understanding of why this meant so much...

I started Advanced Garde Manger on my birthday. I was so excited to turn 30 and start a new class. Little did I know the day would end with me in hysteric tears. I left class feeling like my skills were not at the level needed to be in this class. How could I have gotten this far with straight A's and still not possess the skills required to take this course?! I spend the entire afternoon in tears actually contemplating retaking a course or dropping out of school completely.

I'm sure if you are reading this, you know me well and know I didn't drop out. Instead, per my mother's encouragement, I became determined to conquer the course. And conquer it I did! I'm actually obsessed with it. I have not felt this inspired since becoming a catering manager at Patina. It is like someone lit a fire within me. All I can think about is the current project- they have even taken over my dreams. I'm going in early and staying late. My life completely revolves around this class.

At the beginning of this week, Chef Casino assigned us a "fun" project. By Thursday, we had to produce a recipe for a savory item that looked like tuna sashimi but wasn't. We also had to design a white feather out of a white food element. On Friday, we had to actually produce both of these items. Holy F!!! This is stuff you only see on tv. Sure, molecular gastronomy is big right now. Sure, it is something important to learn. But as students, don't you think we should receive more than 3 days to put together two challenging items?!

I stared and stared at photos of tuna sashimi hoping for inspiration. At last, it hit me that the meat slightly resembled blood orange juice. (thank God it was the only orange juice we served at Tiara Cafe so I was familiar with it.) When I bounced the idea off Chef he claimed it was the sexiest idea he has heard yet. Score! I'm in! Now how was I going to actually produce this blood orange tuna? Chef sent me home with some blood oranges, agar, & citric acid and told me to figure it out. Mario and I stayed up until midnight testing different chemical percentages and pureeing rice for the feather.

Friday, I woke up with a stomachache, completely nervous about having to produce this mad science experiment. It too me longer than I wanted, but the final product was "of the Gods". It was beautiful, if I do say so myself. And it was one of the only ones that actually looked like tuna sashimi. The Chef asked me for the recipe at least 4 times. (can you hear me jumping up & down as I type this??) I DID IT!!

Here are pictures so you can see the final product. I've also included some of the other projects I/we are working on in class.

Here it is....Blood Orange Tuna Sashimi

just another view
Salmon En Croute

Aging Sausages & Charcuterie

Agar Tomato

Parmesan Marshmellows

Kimchi- its been fermenting for about 2 weeks

Aspic Terrine

Cold Smoked Octopus Terrine

My pride & joy Camembert- I've been nursing these boys since the first day

Cheese Bound Vegetable Terrine- Cynthia's Beauty!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine's Day & Birthday Continued

Last weekend was possibly one of the best weekend I've had in Boston in a LONG time. No, not just because it was Valentine's Day and my birthday. It was more because Mario and I actually got out and enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday after work, we went to a neighborhood to grab a drink and a cute Italian restaurant for dinner. We had been wanting to go to both for awhile and were so glad we did. Like I said, it was just good to get out of the house for a bit.

For Valentine's Day, all Mario wanted was Mickey Mouse pancakes. My mom used to make these for me as a kid and apparently, I've never made them for him. I think they turned out pretty well for our first time.

aren't they cute???

After breakfast, we headed out on one of our biggest adventures yet---- to get me a ring. Yep, folks, I officially have myself an engagement ring. Or rather, I officially have myself an engagement ring that I can wear. Mario proposed with his grandmother's beautiful ring, but unfortunately she has the world's smallest fingers and it doesn't fit. We have plans of designing our own ring using his grandmother's and one of my mom's. But these things take time and money, of which we have neither at this point. So, I asked if I could get an in the meantime/in between time ring. AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

I hope you can get the gist of it. I've never taken a picture of my hand with a ring on it before.

Mario also spoiled me with a bouquet of chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne. I really am loved.
All in all, it was a great day!!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!! This has always been one of my favorite holidays. I was raised to recognize this is not a day about having a boyfriend or girlfriend, but rather recognizing the people you love in your life.

When I woke up this morning, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love in my life. I am blessed to have the most amazing friends and family- people that motivate me to be better every day. I would not be where I am today- whether it is in Boston, in culinary school, or simply just be- without these people. So, I thought I would put together a few of my favorite photos from the past few years. There are so many more I would like to recognize, I just don't have any photos online. :( I hope you enjoy the ones I do have.

Thank you: Mom, Jim, Mario, Franky, April, Randel, Nicky, Twin, Not-twin, Julie Jo, K8, Chrystal, Bianca & Jaime, Bernie-mac, Squach, Harmony, Mike, Geri & Alex, Adam, Tootie, Maya, and everyone else!!!