When I get to England I might have a job, but I haven’t actually contacted them. Or I might have to look for one. Or I should look for a different, though I’m wary of doing this. I mean, I’ve already tricked this one restaurant into thinking I’m awesome. I may be too busy spending countless days wandering the Royal Albert or the Tate to be interested in looking elsewhere. Or it could spiral into a plot reminiscent of a Dickens’ novel. How apropos.
Last week, creative juices were practically seeping out my eyeballs. And now, not. Of course, I googled it cause it’s one of my favourite verbs. There is a theory that there are three things that destroy creativity. Let’s take a look:
Fear kills creativity because it causes us to focus on negative outcomes. No matter how you look at it, that is to say you believe that positive thinking results in positive outcomes (ie. survival rate of religious cancer patients vs. non-religious — this is the prayer argument), or that concentrating energy on negatives subconsciously directs us away from success. Whatever. Thinking negatively is equivalent to thinking inside the box – you won’t go anywhere. Fear? Check.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that there are other things that need to be done first. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about having to get a job, or even going to work the one I apparently have, is “I’m not ready yet. I need more time to study, research, practice. PRACTICEPRACTICE.” Resistance? Check.
I think it is fair to say I will always play my own Devil’s Advocate because no matter what, I will gladly come up with a reason why something I should do won’t work, regardless of how illogical the thought (ie. I should stage at this amazing resto, but I won’t because I’ll probably set it on fire). Check.
Creative forces: Zilch. (Hence why this post in so uninspired. For that, I apologize. You should just stop reading here.)
A friend pointed out that the true destroyer of creativity is in fact apathy. So while one may feel emotions that are less conducive to productivity, longing to create is better than abandoning the process altogether. Anyway, instead of pastrying, I stuffed my face with molecular gastronomy.
Some peeps and I went to the local tasting-menu-only molecular joint for a nice 4 hour dinner. A guy I attended culinary school with works there, so he kindly asked me to come back the next day for a one-day stage. Obviously I had to pack and clean my apartment and move things into storage, but I also had to work in this resto for a day. Everything else was put on hold and I spent 10 hours with them.
My plating ability is still good. No problems there, though I did try to avoid plating during service because I just wanted to watch them work in such a tiny kitchen. Sometimes you see a music performance and you stop paying attention to the music because the artist’s stage presence is so captivating; watching them work felt like that.
However I don’t think I impressed anyone with my prep-skills. Arthritis is a good reason why I am not a cuisine chef. I can’t grip a knife to save my life. Anyone borne to the onion family is not my friend and my hands began to claw after de-veining the first bag of snowpeas. Very embarrassing. Yet I can’t bring myself to admit to my limitations (cause in my head I assume everyone expects me to be some kind of pastry superhero, whatever that means), so they probably just thought I wasn’t trying. Oh well.
The largest can of liquid nitrogen I’ve ever seen. It was taller than me. And look! Still smoking…
Freezing ganache on the antigriddle – he caves in the tops with a spoon so that they can be filled with yogurt sauce à la minute.
I did get to see an ANTIGRIDDLE in action though. That’s been a long time coming, I’ll tell ya. And it is exactly what it sounds like — it does the opposite of a griddle, so therefore it freezes from the bottom up. And look. It is made by PolyScience. So. Cool.
I guess I’ll give you some recipes so we can maintain the rouse that this is some kind of food blog…
Various Creams for Tiny Tarts (or giant tarts, whatever floats your boat)
Basically a curd, this cream is really beautiful. The Mango could be swapped for a number of other juices.
230g Mango purée or juice
85g Butter, soft
This can be made directly over the stove or in a double boiler, but a double boiler is safer. Bring all ingredients except butter and gelatine (which should be blooming) to a boil while whisking. Add gelatine. Cool to 40 degrees celsius and add butter with an immersion blender.
You can pipe the cream immediately or set it in the fridge over night. There is enough butter and little enough gelatine that it sets when chilled, but if agitated loosens very easily back into a smooth cream (if you let it sit overnight, let it sit at room temp for twenty minutes or so before re-whisking it).
This is an incredibly tasty curd; the basil is not strong, rather it enhances the “green” flavour in the tangy lime.
15g Basil leaves
Blanch the basil once in boiling water (boil water, throw in basil, strain immediately and cool in ice bath). Bring sugar and water to a simmer, add basil and process in a food processor. Strain.
160g Lime juice (4 limes)
Zest of 2 Limes
40g Basil juice (above)
2g Gelatine (bloomed)
Combine all in a bowl and set atop a pot of boiling water. Whisk mixture until it thickens (90 degrees celsius). Remove from heat immediately and incorporate gelatine with an immersion blender. Cover with cling film and chill over night. Whisk smooth before using.
I filled some shells halfway with grapefruit marmalade, then mango cream, and finished them with orange scented meringue (use a peeler to remove the zest from an orange. Cook 100g sugar with 50g water with the peel. Have 50g egg white in a clean bowl. When the sugar boils, start whisking whites to soft peak. When sugar reaches 118 degrees celsius, quickly scoop out or strain the syrup, then pour into the whites while whisking. Whisk until double or body temp).
Hermé tops his lime curd with strawberries and pieces of rose turkish delight. I didn’t bother with the turkish delight, opting to glaze the strawbs with rosewater (you may buy a commercial glaze, which is gelatine based and has no sweetness, or just use corn syrup. Mix a few drops of rosewater into whichever you choose, then glaze fruit with a pastry brush). One of my chef instructors loved to say, “Fruits are like women, zey are beautiful on zer own, but even more beautiful with makeup. Always put makeup on your fruit.” This is sexist, arguably true, and funny. I ❤ the French.