‘Tis is a poor worker who blames his tools… Root Beer Float (pg. 503)

I could easily insert an over-used Clash lyric here, but I won’t. The cheese factor is too high. I have been in London 4.25 days. I have worked 2 shifts. I have become lost 4 times, which I don’t consider to be all that pathetic considering I’ve walked a good deal of the central core without a map several times.

One could easily say I am still experiencing culture shock. C warned me it would be silly, insignificant things that break my brain. Like the toilets – the flushing mechanisms don’t make sense, they feel broken and you have to put your back into sending anything away properly. The coins are frustrating. For the most part (the dime is the exception) Canadian currency increases in size based on value. But in England, the coins are all over the place. Thickness does play a role, but the 5 pence is gigantic, the twenty pence is teeny, the penny is still a stupid penny, the ten pence looks like a quarter. I don’t want to sound like one of those ignorant travellers who hates currency in other countries, discounting it as “weird” — rather I search for order and reason in anything that doesn’t have a clear motive so as to validate why things have been done one way over another. I suppose I will have to go to the currency museum next week.

Aside from the little things (dairy is cheap and not plentiful — everyone eats yogurt flavoured like chocolate bars, I had to climb a dairy chiller so I could reach the hidden, elusive plain greek-style) the only thing that weighs on me here is all the people. Too. Many. People. I’d rather walk for hours then to be stuffed like ground pork into a tube-shaped sausage casing.

Everyone seems friendly, though one woman didn’t understand my accent when I asked for a flat white (IM IN THE LAND OF FLAT WHITES HALLELUJAH) and another woman mistook me for being Irish (face yes, incoherent sounds that escape my mouth randomly, no). I thought this strange until the Canadian in the kitchen asked if I had been mistaken for Irish yet. Apparently to Brits, the accent isn’t far off.

Ohyeahiwasgoingtotalkabouttools. I’ll make this quick, I have to get to work and the bloody Jubilee is happening right now.

People say you should’t blame your tools for anything, though often they are blamed because they are inanimate and can’t talk back. Welp, from my experience, when it comes to pastry, I think I can damn well place blame on tools, though clearly one should adapt to poor tools and learn to work with what they have.

I got into a bit of an argument with a pastry chef about tools. He argued that if your oven is shit, you get used to it, positioning items on trays so as to avoid the uber hot party of the oven in favour of the more-evenly heated areas. I argued that is a waste of time and space and you should get your oven fixed. He disagreed. Then he said the top chefs don’t use fancy molds, they make everything by hand with love and kittens (okay, I added the kitten part). I said they do very much use fancy molds and make things in totally un-traditional ways because they have too much to produce to such a high standard. They don’t cut corners, but they do get a helping hand.

The chef became rather upset at this remark, and after sticking my foot in my mouth once more, I decided to drop it. But talk to a resto chef about spoons, and they will argue finding the right spoon can be like finding your soul mate — a chef can make decent quenelles with an average-Joe spoon, but there is something magical in scooping fresh ice cream or chantilly with a perfect quenelle spoon. The experience is elevated. I neglected to argue this fact.

But to be fair, there are a good number of things that we can do now that we have SCIENCE and ELECTRICITY. This recipe, for instance, requires an immersion blender. I had refused to use them for so long, saying that they are the cuisinier’s tool, and did not belong in a pastry kitchen. Talk about thinking inside a dark box. I acquired one for this recipe and have since incorporated it into many other recipes. Easy to clean. Easy to store. Easy to homogenize.

Root Beer Float.

Before I left, I made this last dish from The Modern Café. I chose this because it’s Root Beer and because I’ve not made a foam in over a year. It’s a kind of a float.

Root Beer “Sorbet” (adapted from pg.503)

676g Root Beer

5g Root Beer extract

67g Sorbet Syrup

30g Cherry Liquor (I would have chosen whiskey, but it seems to have been consumed)

1 Tbsp Cocoa powder

Pinch Salt

Combine all ingredients, churn in ice cream maker, or if need be freeze in a pan and scrape with a fork for a granité because your ice cream maker sucks balls and just churns all non-dairy based business into slush.

Sorbet Syrup

10g Sugar

1.7g Sorbet stabilizer (if you have some lying around. I do not)

45g Glucose Powder (or Glucose, I don’t suggest using corn syrup due to the sweetness level. Glucose has the property of a liquid sugar, but almost no sweetness, and since this has root beer, using corn syrup would make it sickly)

*note: if you have glucose or find glucose and get excited (I would, but I have a 7kg bucket which will last me my lifetime) the best way to measure it is to wet your hands and scoop it out. If need be, oiling a measure of some kind would also work, but if you’re working with weirdo recipes, the residue might not be ideal.

Root Beer Foam

6g Gelatine (bloomed)

300g Root Beer

1.5g Lecithin, powdered or granules

Warm 75ml of Root beer with gelatine to liquify. Stir into the rest of the soda and add Lecithin. Use an immersion blender or small battery powered milk foamer to froth the mixture. Spoon over the dessert (Vanilla ice cream and the Root Beer Sorbet) and freeze or serve immediately. The mixture may be re-frothed as needed, though letting it stand for longer than an hour is not recommended.

Basically, I just layered brownie with Vanilla ice cream and the granité. Bacon would be a great addition. Eventually I would like to try a Dr.Pepper style, but all amaretto and beer, if ya know what I mean. Guh-ross.

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