Friday, December 24, 2010

Working Through the Year

I don't think I'll have any days off until after the first week of January.

My station is running pretty smoothly. We have three dishes that are flying out of the kitchen; the jicama crab siu mai, the tuna ceviche, and the scallop ceviche. I'll be back to describe them in detail. Again, I'm exhausted.

You'd think I'd be refreshed after my day off yesterday. Not so much since I didn't actually have my day off as scheduled. No days off for the Eve.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catching Up

I am aware that I haven't posted in a while. It's been pretty crazy opening up a brand new restaurant inside a brand new casino.

My restaurant is going well, as far as I can see. The food is delicious and I feel like the pantry station is running as smoothly as possible after being there for just two weeks.

When my hours even out, I'll write more. Right now, I'm exhausted.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

San Francisco Trip

Every time Devin and I visit my parents in San Francisco, we pretty much eat the whole time.

Wednesday night, we arrived and went straight to Cha Cha Cha. It's a Cuban style tapas place. They have great sangria, and we always order lots of dishes. This time, we got the sauteed mushrooms, the fried new potatoes (that come with the most amazing aioli), the jerk chicken, the paella, and a salad.

For Thanksgiving, we went out to Italian food at Fior d'Italia. We aren't much on Thanksgiving so we ordered from their regular menu instead of the holiday menu with the turkey and all that. I got fetuccini de tutti mare, or something that resembles what I just typed. It was fetuccini and mixed seafood. I've been really liking seafood recently. The meal came with minestrone, and a Caesar salad, which I have been craving, and finished off with their tiramisu. The dessert was really decadent, like eating straight whipped cream.

Friday we went to the sushi boat place that's downtown. I have no idea what it's called. Sushi boat is always a good time. Later that night, my best friend (since 3rd grade!) met up with Devin and me at Murios, and we ordered a potato pizza from Escape from New York. That's one thing I will not miss when I visit my hometown. Potato, whole roasted garlic cloves, cream sauce... oh, yum. It's delicious.

Saturday before we took off we ate at Park Chalet, a brewpub out by the beach. I always get the beer sampler there. They have altered their menu to make it more tapas-style, which is nice. We ordered a three-mushroom pizza with white truffle oil that was just a bit over the top. The mac n cheese also had the oil, but it was used with more restraint in that dish. Devin and I shared a French onion soup, which we enjoyed very much since it's something that neither of us has a chance to have often.

That was my trip. We went to lots of bars as well, but this post is long enough. Tomorrow I start my new job at my restaurant. I guess I'm excited.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wellington: Delicious to the Max

Today I went to the hiring center for the Cosmopolitan to fill out my final paperwork for my job. I start a week from today.

A couple of days ago, Devin went to The Butcher Block to get some filet mignon. They don't have it at Smith's, and I wanted to make beef wellington. He ended up spending $35 on two 1.5 inch Prime filets, but damn, were they ever worth it. I made one wellington today, with gravy, and green beans with bacon, and I think I'm going to butter poach the other filet.

My wellington turned out perfect! I made a mushroom duxelle, which is just a mixture of mushrooms, onions, garlic, and seasoning, and then cooled it off. Then I took out the puff pastry and rolled it out. I seasoned and seared the steak for two minutes on each side and let it cool for a few minutes. Then I put the gorgeously seared steak on the puff pastry sheet, topped it with the duxelle, and sealed the pastry around it. About 20 minutes in the oven got it to a perfect medium-rare, and in that 20 minutes I made my gravy and sauteed my green beans, which I had previously blanched.

Just thinking about tonight's dinner is making my mouth water all over again. I could have eaten a whole wellington myself, but I'm glad I only made one steak for us to split, since that means I get more Prime steak deliciousness tomorrow. Yum!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Forgione!

Well, Chef Forgione won The Next Iron Chef. I guess we'll see a lot of battles with him now. If I was going on Iron Chef I'd want to battle the newbie too.

Actually, I'd want to battle Bobby Flay, but you know what I mean. Hear that, Bobby? I'm ready for a throwdown. Hummus throwdown! I challenge you NOW.

Friday, November 12, 2010

He Loves my Shredded Chicken Tacos

My boyfriend is adorable. Yesterday I asked him about dinner and he asked me, "Can we have tacos?" How do I say no to that? I told him to pick me up an avocado on his way home from work so I could make guacamole as well.

Tacos are easy, especially now that it finally dawned on me that I could just make one big batch of my taco seasoning and save it, so I only have to taste it once instead of a million times!

This is roughly what's in my seasoning mix:
Cumin- it's at least half cumin, probably more like 75%
Oregano
Thyme
Garlic powder
Cayenne- I like a lot
Salt
Black pepper
I think that's it. You could add chili powder or onion powder as well. I didn't have them when I made this batch, but I'll pick them up when I make the next batch and try it out.

Guacamole:
Avocado
Lime
Pepper
Salt
Tabasco, red and green
Tapatio
Garlic Powder
Optional: Diced tomato
Procedure: Mash with fork.

Here's how it goes down.
I boil the chicken, and while that's happening, I make the guacamole (unless I've made it earlier in the day; earlier is better!), julienne an onion, and mince a clove or two of garlic. Once the chicken is cooked, I take it out of the water and shred it with two forks. Then I get a large pan with oil (I just use vegetable oil) nice and hot, and I add my onions. I cook them until they're soft, add my garlic, and deglaze with either light beer or white wine. Either works fine. Then I throw in my chicken, season liberally with my spice mix, and add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. Make sure some of the spice mix goes into the oil instead of straight on the chicken in the pan. It brings the flavor out more when you cook the spices a little bit.

Once the chicken is coated in spices and tomato paste, and it's a bit crispy from the oil, you're done! I serve the chicken and guacamole with tortillas (we like flour; one day I'll make my own) and some shredded cheese, usually cheddar/jack mix, but sometimes we buy the "Mexican" cheese, which is basically the same thing. We rarely bother with rice and never bother with beans.

I hardly ever get sour cream because he doesn't like it, but when I have it on hand, I pile that on my tacos as well. So deliciously bad for me. And don't forget the Tapatio! It's our most-used condiment.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, Right, I Got a Job.

I'll be working at RESTAURANT (name removed by request of my work) at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino starting later this month. The owner is Chef Jose Andres, who's really a badass.

This news isn't too late; I only found out on Monday. Now for a busy three weeks of relaxation before I have to start working.

Relaxation, yeah right. Last night I made fresh pasta and a huge double cut pork chop, both of which turned out great. It was only my second attempt at fresh pasta and it worked out so much better than the first time! It was delicious.

I also made homemade pizza tonight. The only thing I didn't make was the cheese and pepperoni, because who has time and resources to make those things? My crust and sauce were great, so I'm proud of that.

My new butcher shop also kicks ass. They make the best jalapeno-chipotle brats. We made them on the grill last week and they were so good that today I went back to buy two of every brat they make. It's like Noah and the ark, except delicious. They are only marginally more expensive than grocery store brats but miles and miles more flavorful. The shop is called The Butcher Block and it's on South Rainbow between the 215 and Robindale.

I really have been relaxing. It's nice being able to do that after a busy year and a half of school. Come the 29th I won't be able to relax much more, and I'll have to rejoin the real world.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Final GPA

It just now occurred to me to check my final GPA, which is a 3.88.

I'm still pretty sure I got shafted in the restaurant class, since I had 100% going from front of house to kitchen if my extra credit counted, but I don't care enough to argue. I certainly don't care enough to haul my butt back to LCB now that I'm DONE! Yay!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Picasso

I graduated yesterday. Yay! My parents wanted to go to Picasso to celebrate, and oh wow, they made the right choice.

The decor is, well, Picasso paintings.

It didn't have the super-fancy feel of Robuchon, but the food was just as good. I think I actually had a better time at Picasso (except they didn't have the awesome bread cart!).

We started with a piece of green olive bread, a piece of baguette, and butter. It took us forever to decide what to order. Picasso is all prix fixe, so there were three menus to choose from. One was a $250 white truffle tasting menu which looked amazing. I'd regret not just going for it, but what I had was so perfect that I can't regret a thing. For the record, the white truffle menu includes a risotto, a butternut squash ravioli, and filet mignon, all of which incorporate white truffle in some way. I almost want to go back by myself and just have that.

My dad and I eat a lot of the same things, and Devin and my mom eat the same thing almost every time we go out. Dad and I are also the only wine drinkers. It took us a while, but we got the sommelier involved, and he suggested a Gevurtztraminer from Alsace that was absolutely wonderful and worked with every dish we ordered.

I started with the lobster salad, which came with tiny melon-balls of honeydew and artichoke, and some teardrop tomatoes. I usually find lobster rubbery, but it was just right. My second course was a crab filet; it was a huge piece of king crab leg over a bed of mashed potatoes. Delicious as well. For my third course, I chose to substitute the foie gras (don't like it, and am somewhat against it as well), for the carrot-ginger shrimp soup from the other menu. It came with just the shrimp garnish and the soup was poured into the bowl in front of me. So classy. Then I had the halibut and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Yep, I had lots and lots of fish. My last dish was perfect.

Then dessert came. I ordered the chocolate... something. They had one chocolate dish option so I got it. It was basically the best chocolate lava cake I've ever had, and it came with hazelnut ice cream and a cute tuile cookie. I have never, ever had a dessert put in front of me that smelled so good. I swear, it was the first thing I said.

The size of the dishes and the timing of the service were both perfect. I didn't feel like a total glutton after, even though I had eaten five courses. The meal took almost exactly three hours. The waitstaff was very attentive, and the sommelier even kept our Gevurtztraminer chilled while we ate. It was even better chilled. Seriously, this wine was amazing, just perfect with seafood. I really want to find out exactly what it was so I can go buy some!

Our "ladies' gift" (what do they call those?) when my mom and I were walking out was a nice box with three palmiers in them. I haven't tried them yet, but posting about this now makes me want to, so I'm going to go eat one and watch The Next Iron Chef.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Albondigas

I made albondigas tonight, in chipotle with adobo sauce. I completely ripped it off from Firefly, and I have no qualms about it. One day soon I'll buy some puff pastry and make their mushroom tart, and then I'll never have to actually eat there again!

But I will.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We Got a Grill!

Devin and I finally got ourselves a shiny new grill. It's portable but we also ordered the tall stand for it. It's a propane grill, so we got a 1lb propane bottle for when we take it somewhere, and we'll get a 20lb one for when it's on its tall stand at home. This is seriously the coolest portable grill I have ever seen. Devin found us some massive t-bones, so we're making steak, asparagus, and zucchini tonight.

Here is a link to the grill. http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CGG-200-All-Foods-000-BTU-Tabletop/dp/B001TOWLTO/ref=sr_1_7?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1284924618&sr=1-7

We paid less than $200 for the whole setup, with free shipping, plus it came assembled. You don't get a better deal than that.

We're taking it out to the truck race next weekend!

Here we go with our feast. We made brats, too! Image uploading and linking are both being stupid right now so here's a link to the image. http://yfrog.com/6f3amqj

Also, check out my followers now. How cool is that?! Hi Chef Rick!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I met Rick Moonen! Oh, and I'm Done with School.



I've tried not to use smiley faces, but really. :) :) :) :) :)

I am done with school.

And he signed my chef coat.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day at Three Square

Today was actually fun. It's nice not to worry about running a cafeteria and dealing with people's annoying orders and requests.

We have a banquet on Wednesday night, so today we made stuffed chicken. We sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and stuffed them in chicken breasts with gouda cheese. Then we breaded them and fried them, and we'll finish them in the oven on Wednesday. We baked a couple off today and they were delicious.

That's pretty much my whole day, actually. Tomorrow we're working on the rest of the stuff, and Wednesday we're just serving it. We heard that Rick Moonen is going to be there, so I'm excited about that! This shouldn't be too bad.

Oh, I forgot the best part about working there! We listen to country music all day, and on my favorite radio station, The Coyote! Awesome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Well Then...

Due to "management problems"* at Opportunity Village, I am going to work at Three Square for three days next week and be done with my externship.

*I'm not saying more to protect the innocent and to cover my own ass.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Craft Steak

Last night, Devin and I went to Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at MGM Grand. It’s nearly the end of Restaurant Week, and this was our only stop!

We were excited by the menu, and had wanted to try the place for a while, so it seemed like the perfect time. We booked an early dinner, which meant that we got a great booth where we could sit next to each other and share food.

After we sat down, they brought us the most amazing fresh-baked bread. Think King’s Hawaiian rolls, but homemade in a cast iron pan and way more buttery. I’m not ashamed to say that we finished the first six rolls and asked for more.

Our drink orders were easy: Two Chimay Reds at $10 apiece. Chimay is pricey anyway, so this wasn’t a bad deal, plus this beer goes with absolutely everything! Dev isn’t a wine drinker, and I prefer beer as well, plus the wine list was really pricey, so we figured Chimay would serve us well.

The best part was when the waiter came to take our order. There was a choice of four appetizers, three entrees, and three sides, or so I thought. The waiter asked how we would like our steak cooked. Confused, I looked at him and said, “Oh, I’ll have the scallops.” He said, “You get everything.” That’s right, for Restaurant Week at Craftsteak, you get four appetizers, three entrees, three sides, plus two desserts, for $50 a person. Deal. So we said we’d like our steak medium rare.

Our four appetizers came out very quickly. I like quick service. The fennel salad was great; it was raw shaved fennel with a citrusy dressing. It’s not for everyone but I love fennel, so I finished the plate. The other salad, a cucumber-arugula affair, was good for me and not good for Dev. I think he had a problem with the flavor of the arugula, and he also dislikes cucumber. I love both, so I liked it. The roasted quail was amazing; even the grapes that were served with it tasted as if they had been fire-roasted. The buffalo mozzarella was also delicious. It was topped with a sort of bell pepper “tapenade.” I don’t like bell peppers, but these were roasted, and it tasted really great.

I’ll move on to the side dishes before the entrees. The side dishes were a sweet corn warm salad, a dish of shiitake mushrooms, and a potato puree. The corn dish was the best corn I’ve ever had. I’m not even normally a fan of corn, but I had seconds. The mushrooms, well, they were fantastic. I love mushrooms in almost any form, but the flavor of these mushrooms was perfect, just earthy and great. The potato puree was just about as good as the one I had at Robuchon, meaning that it’s about half heavy cream and half potato. The chives were a nice touch.

The entrees. Here is where we said medium-rare on the steak. We had both skirt steak and a prime beef flat iron steak. The skirt steak was perfect at a med-rare, but I think looking back I would have ordered the flat iron at a medium, since it was cut thicker. Both steaks were seasoned and cooked perfectly. The scallop dish was two sea scallops in a lemon cream sauce with some shaved fennel on top. I lucked out because Devin only wanted a taste, so I got to eat almost the whole dish. They were cooked perfectly, which you don’t always see with restaurant scallops.

The dessert course was more than I expected. The “Pastry Chef’s Selection of Confections, Ice Cream, and Sorbet,” turned out to be two composed dishes. One was a chocolate panna cotta with a caramel sauce, and the other was a peach concoction, with meringue, whipped cream, fresh peaches, and peach sorbet. I was surprised by how great the peach sorbet was. Not being much of a dessert person (unless it’s bread pudding!), I don’t usually judge places on their desserts. If desserts were very important to me, these two would have more than passed the test.

The service was impeccable, professional, and efficient. The layout of the restaurant is interesting. I’m glad we were among the first reservations, because we got a great booth in the back. I suspect they give the walk-ins the tables in the front that are open to the rest of the casino, including tacky people walking in from the pool in just their swimsuits.

Last year for Restaurant Week we went to three restaurants: L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and Bradley Ogden. I have to say that Bradley Ogden was by far my favorite last year, although we later went to Robuchon itself, the fancy one, and that was one of the best meals of my life. L’Atelier is like a teaser for the real Robuchon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back at Oakey

I'm back working at the other location for OV. It's nice because we get out earlier.

There is major drama going on at OV, complete with lying and threats, and this is all going on with management, not us! It's getting quite irritating and I can't wait for the next three weeks to be over.

Friday, August 27, 2010

On the Fly

Lunch was slow today except for right at noon. We had probably 12 orders due at noon, and they were all different things; grilled chicken, pizza, quesadilla, burger, some fried stuff. We basically needed two people to get everything out and fresh by noon.

Chef tells us we need to make lunch for 15 on the fly. This means, "Do it now." The kicker? She told us this at 11:45 as we were getting ready to take on the lunch rush. We had to make 15 club sandwiches. I started the bacon for them so I could get my fryer free for chicken fingers, fish, and fries. That's right, we do bacon in the deep fryer. I sliced tomatoes for the sandwiches while it fried up.

Chris finished off the sandwiches and I took care of the lunch rush. The microwave was a godsend today (don't tell the clients!).

By the way, a quesadilla is not on our menu. We've done it as a special before, but not today. There's a client named Charles who Chef just adores for some reason. She will make him almost anything he asks for. I understand that he's mentally challenged, but he's in his 30s. Tell him to order from the menu like everyone else does! It's all good if it's something we have that we can just throw in the fryer, or a quesadilla that we can just microwave for 30 seconds, but sometimes it's something way too involved. Yesterday was a perfect example: He wanted egg rolls. Sure, we can deep fry those, but we didn't have any pre-made in the freezer, so he got egg rolls from scratch. Must be nice.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Little Touches (another Lotus post)

Lotus of Siam was amazing tonight. Devin and I tried three new things: the BBQ beef, the catfish soup, and the wonton appetizer. Of course they were all awesome.

The wontons look like any old fried wontons, but the flavor is the difference. They were delicious and came with a sauce that just enhanced that.

I usually get Tom Yum Kai soup, but I'm not a huge fan of the chicken in it. I realized that there was an option on the menu that was basically the same soup with catfish instead for only a dollar more, so I went with that. At an 8 out of 10 spicy, it was hot (for me; if you aren't used to spicy go for a 3) and delicious. My favorite soup with my favorite fish!

The BBQ menu is one we've never ordered from. I think it's because I think BBQ sauce, but for the Thai restaurant, BBQ just means grilled. The beef was great, and the sauce it came with was delicious.

Here's where the little touches come in. We took some of the BBQ beef, pad Thai, rice, and soup to go. They boxed it all up for us. I just went to have one more bite of beef, thinking, "too bad we finished all the sauce," and on top of the beef, in the to go carton, was a little to go thing of sauce.

So cheers to Lotus of Siam, not only for having amazing food, but for being incredibly thoughtful to their guests. Also cheers to Suwat, our bowling buddy, who is an awesome waiter and completely kicked our asses in bowling on Friday night.

Two Good Things

They have a Pour Your Own Pint table with Guinness and Bass at McMullans, and they have Smithwicks on draft. I went there last night before Country Fest at the Orleans, which was really fun, by the way.

Second good thing: I am going to Lotus of Siam for dinner tonight. I am excited.

And now back to my regularly scheduled beer and NASCAR Sunday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Plans Fall Through

So that Friday where Chris and I were supposed to sit in a room and plan menus, yeah that didn't happen.

First, Abbie and Ethan were swamped with breakfast orders so we got called out to help at around 8:15.

Just before 9, Chef mysteriously disappeared into her office with some people. Apparently, there was a shakeup, and a new executive chef, and the other location would be closed until further notice. We were all confused enough by that.

Strike three! Chef told us we had a surprise lunch we had to cater, and it had to be done by 11. Two hours to make sandwiches, wraps, and two salads for a party of 10-20. I made the green salad and the wraps; Ethan and Abbie made the sandwiches, and Chris made the pasta salad. It's a good thing that all four of us were at the same location that day.

I got my evaluation today; all good. I need to do one for Chef and turn it in by Friday. Come Friday, I'm halfway done with my externship!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Busy Thursday, Exciting Friday

Today we had to prep a couple hundred sandwiches and wraps for a graduation being held at the Oakey location, and we had to do it in two hours. I took a leadership role and also worked really hard on the line to get it done. We did it all during the biggest breakfast rush we've had since I've been working there!

Tomorrow, Chris and I are working with Chef to create menus for upcoming parties, and Abbie and Ethan will be on the line by themselves. Chef wants to push them to work harder and quicker, and they will definitely have to. Tomorrow is payday Friday for the employees at Opportunity Village, which is the craziest lunch service I've seen so far.

We need to plan menus for at least two large events. One is for 300 people, and I believe it's a $10 per person budget! I always look to my favorite restaurants for inspiration, and I'll bring a couple of cookbooks in to look through as well. Tomorrow should be a fun day, and should bring new and exciting challenges that I've yet to take on.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Recreating a Favorite Restaurant Dish

Today I attempted to recreate the stuffed dates from Firefly. This is a tapas dish that's meant to be shared, but I always eat a whole plate of it by myself.

It's dates, stuffed with almonds, wrapped in bacon, and served with a red wine reduction and blue cheese. I figured I could do it easily, so last weekend I bought dates, almonds, and blue cheese. Of course I already have bacon and wine!

All I had to do was pit the dates, shove the almond inside, wrap about a third of a piece of bacon around it, and set it with a toothpick. I set my red wine up to reduce, seared the dates, and then put them in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Devin and I agreed that the flavors were perfect but the bacon was wrong. I was using my favorite thick-cut bacon, and I need to use a thinner cut so it gets crispier. I'm really proud of myself, though; it was delicious.

You can see a picture of it here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Working for Free

is not great. I don't mind the work at all, and it's really easy, but someone pointed out today that we are working for free, and it grated a little.

I'm trying to decide what I want to do about getting a real job. I know Chef could get me a job in a kitchen on the Strip, but do I want that? Do I want to go back into online marketing, or a different cushy office job? These things are weighing heavily on my mind this week. After tomorrow I will have two months to go in my internship and I'll have to make a choice.

Sorry updates have been sporadic. I have some ideas for upcoming posts, most of which won't even mention anything I'm doing at Opportunity Village. How much can I say about deep frying stuff and flipping burgers?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Externship Update

Well, since my Europe posts have been put on hold by the crappy picture uploading thing on Blogger (damn free website, why won't you work perfectly?), I guess I will talk about my externship.

I'm working at Opportunity Village, which is a rehab/treatment facility for people who need physical or mental rehabilitation or special care. The people who work in the kitchen are almost "job-ready" and will get assistance in finding a job after they are evaluated.

We have a simple set menu, but the fun part is that we get to make up a daily special, whatever we want, as long as it's not super expensive. Today we made BBQ ribs, and they were a hit. We sold out of them before lunch time even began. I'm working with Abbie, who I worked with at Cafe Bleu, and a guy named Chris. They're both fun to work with and it's a pretty relaxed environment.

The externship has the perfect hours, too. It's exactly the hours that Devin works, no weekends or nights, which is more than I could have hoped for.

I wouldn't mind doing the whole 12 weeks there, but we'll see what happens with this actual job I'm still supposed to get.

More Europe posts are coming.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Europe Post #3: Booze

We went on three booze tours in Ireland: Jameson, Smithwick's, and Guinness.

Jameson is my favorite whiskey. Really, I love it. Their tour was fun and I got to do the tasting at the end, which makes me an Official Irish Whiskey Taster. Their actual old brewery is in Midleton, right outside of Cork. They have a newer place in Dublin but we didn't bother since we had already been to the original one by that point.

I'm home:






















The water wheel that made the plant run:

















Me doing my tasting of Jameson, Johnnie Walker Black Label, and Jack Daniels. As if they had to convince me that I like Jameson best!

















My new favorite beer, which we can thankfully get here in the States at select locations, is called Smithwick's, pronounced, "Smiddicks." Their brewery is in Kilkenny, and it's an active brewery to this day. It's an excellent nutty, somewhat dark amber ale.
You get to have drinks in the cellar bar at the end of the tour.











































Of course we went to Guinness in Dublin. I was a little weary of guided tours by then, so it was nice to find that the Guinness tour is mostly self-guided. The three of us (Devin, his brother Brian, and me) pretty much just wanted to get to the top floor for a pint anyway. We stopped on the fifth floor to pour our own pints, since we got certificates learning how to pour the perfect pint as well. That was pretty fun and the view from the top was amazing! It was a 360* view of Dublin.
I was feeling artsy so here's a shot of me in the mirrored table:






















Do you know what they have at pubs in Ireland? They have a table where you can pour your own pint! It's manufactured by Guinness; every one that we saw had Guinness and Carlsberg (a pilsner that is similar in taste to Heineken, which means I don't like it). The digital screen measures how much you pour. The waitress takes down the number when you request your check, shuts off the table, and brings the check with the exact amount of beer you drank on it. It's brilliant, and you'd think of all places Las Vegas would have something like that by now.
Note the nearly perfect pints: 1.97 glasses measured.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Europe Post #2: CANDY!

Because I am an adult, I would like to talk about the candy that is easily accessible in Europe (and even Canada) that we just do not have here.

First, my favorite. Aero bars. I could order them from Amazon, I could ask my Canadian friends to send them to me, or I could just buy five giant ones at the airport for a quid each.
















Ah, Kinder chocolate. My oldest love. I have been a fan of Kinder since I was... well, a kinder. It means 'child' in German, right? Anyway, I love Kinder eggs, Kinder bars, and Kinder Bueno. I bought a fantastically large package of Kinder bars. This picture is only 1/4th of it (that's me with no makeup and bad lighting trying to eat the cardboard).
















Bueno!
















In other countries, Smarties aren't chalky pedia-sure type "candy," they are actual candy. They're like M&Ms, but better because they're harder to find.
















Of course, some chocolate from the Guinness brewery.
















I hope this tour of European candy has been enjoyable. It's not as crazy or exciting as Asian candy, but I gotta say, it sure is nice to know that there are still four giant Aero bars in my freezer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Europe Post #1: Walkers Crisps Flavour Cup

On our first full day in Ireland, we gassed up (petroled up?) the rental cars and headed out to the Cliffs of Moher. I went into the gas station to look at their candy and food selection. They had eggs, bread, and pastries sitting out on shelves, uncovered and unrefrigerated. I'm not too squeamish about those things, but then I happened upon these:


















That's right, World Cup commemorative Walkers potato crisps, which we know better in the States as Lays potato chips.

I had to buy them. I just found a list of all the chips available, and I'm sad but relieved that I didn't get to try them all. The ones I did try are bolded.

These are the flavors that I couldn't find:
  • Irish Stew
  • Australian BBQ Kangaroo
  • Italian Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Scottish Haggis
  • South African Sweet Chutney
  • Spanish Chicken Paella
  • Welsh Rarebit
I'm not going to guess how good or bad those flavors are because I was completely wrong on almost all the ones that I did try. Hopefully, I can find these flavors somewhere and do another post on them.

I tried the following:
  • American Cheeseburger: I tried this with pride on the 4th of July. I ate one chip and tossed the rest. It would have been great if the ketchup flavor had been the lingering taste, but they really did taste like ground beef.
  • Argentinean Flame Grilled Steak: I found these in London, after all the others, so I was already wary of them. I was right to worry; these chips just tasted like steak, which is really so strange.
  • Brazilian Salsa: My guesses were right on two of the flavors, one being these. Chips that taste like salsa? Can't really mess that up, right? These were good.
  • Dutch Edam Cheese: I thought I would like these. Chips with cheese flavoring sound good to me. Seems that I had forgotten that Edam is a very strong cheese, so I was wrong. These were awful. I'd almost rather have chips that taste like meat (but I'm still rooting for them to win tomorrow!).
  • English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding: These are in contention for the foulest thing I've ever eaten. I had never tried roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so I went to have it after I tried the chips, and guess what? It's fantastic. I'll post about that in an upcoming blog. The chips are just disgusting. I honestly smelled them, gagged a little, took a tiny bite, and had to spit it out and brush my teeth. I'd really skip these chips and go to a pub for the real thing.
  • French Garlic Baguette: The other flavor I knew I would like. Chips, garlic, yum. These were delicious. I ate the whole bag and would buy more if we had them in the States. They should keep this flavor permanently.
  • German Bratwurst Sausage: Oh, I love brats. These chips tasted like bratwurst so much that it was really just upsetting. Gross, gross, gross. I was rooting for Germany, too.
  • Japanese Teriyaki Chicken: This one could have been worse, but I would never call it good. I guess chips that taste like beef are more offensive than chips that taste like chicken.
Bonus Flavors:
  • Prawn Cocktail: Apparently this flavor is popular in Europe; I saw it at many a pub being consumed by locals. I expected the worst, but this chip was almost decent. It had an ever so slight shrimpy flavor and was salty.
  • Ready Salted: This is just their code for regular chips.
I kept all the bags. My final verdict is as follows: Chips should not taste like meat.

Bad:



















Good:

Friday, July 9, 2010

I've Been Away: Ireland and England

I didn't want to advertise to the world that I would be away for two weeks, but there you have it: my excuse for not posting for so long. I left on the 26th of June and got back an hour ago.

Tomorrow I will post details, pictures, and culinary highlights (and lowlights) from my trip across Ireland with a brief visit to London on the way back. I am much too tired and lazy to do that now; it's something like 4am for me, plus Devin is bringing us home some pizza.

Damn, I missed pizza.

Before I forget, a note to the Irish: Salt is your friend. Use it. I'll explain more sometime this weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Done with Classes

I'm done with my classes! My final went well; I am expecting a B in the Restaurant class. I'm fine with it since I already have one B, so I guess that other B turned out to be a good thing.

This blog may not be very active for the next couple of weeks, since I'll be on Summer break. I will try to pop in with an occasional restaurant review.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One More Day

Tomorrow is my last day in culinary school. Oh my dog, that's weird.

Today wasn't too thrilling. I made two portobello sandwiches and we cleaned the vents above the stoves. Tomorrow we have two huge groups of kids coming in; one group of 60 young children and then a larger group of college kids. There's a set menu, so it should be an easy day for cooking. Then we clean, take our final, and I'm done.

It looks like my externship is sealed. Chef Elmira and I will have to communicate over email during Summer break, but according to her there's no chance I won't get it. Score! It's a really good one, too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Glory Walk!

Today we did our glory walk down the hall at school. Everyone comes out and stands in line to applaud us for getting through a year of culinary school. I'm not sure it's the most impressive feat in the world, but it was nice to see all our Chefs, especially Chef Daughters, who I love and haven't seen in probably a month. At first I felt very silly, but then I realized hey, I made it through, and some of these people just started. I know when I had just begun the program this day seemed very far away. I even Randaled a little bit, click if you don't know what that means.

I made four portobello sandwiches today. My dad emailed me and told me that it is either portobello or portabella, since the masculine or feminine have to agree in the word. It didn't occur to me that it was a combination of two words. I don't know Italian; my French knowledge leads me to believe it means "beautiful door," but that seems odd.

No word from externship yet. I'm grumpy and nervous because I really need to get that set up before my trip, which means I need to get it set up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm Still Unclear on how to Spell Portobello

Really, I've seen it spelled a million different ways, portabella, portobella, portobello, etc. Spell check says they're all wrong, so that doesn't help.

My sandwiches came out well today. I made six of them, including two and three at the same time. It's fun and a little bit more simple than the croissant sandwich I made last week.

I had my interview today for my externship. The Chef told me I was the most qualified of anyone he's spoken to, which sounds like a good sign. The problem is that I need to hear if I got the internship by Thursday, so I'm nervous about that part. I don't want to end up staying at the school, which is probably what will happen if I don't hear back in two days. This is Not My Fault, either; my interview was supposed to be a week ago.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back of House Practical

Today was our practical. We had an hour and a half to make a roasted chicken, gratin dauphinoise, braised cabbage, and a beurre blanc sauce.

We weren't allowed to use our recipes and I pretty much drew a blank on the beurre blanc. I also cut the cabbage too big so it wasn't cooked all the way. I'm really kicking myself for that one.

In good news, my dauphinoise was good and my chicken was cooked perfectly. Big surprise, the two things that I do at home all the time are the two things I did well on the practical. I don't know what my score was and I'm not sure I want to.

Luckily, my projects have been good, and my last quiz score was perfect, plus I already have an A in front of house. I'll be really upset if my grade is lower than a B, and thrilled if I somehow manage an A.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chicken Sandwich Wrap-up

Today was my last day on the chicken and pineapple sandwich. I got four orders pretty much right in a row, and some were modified. One wanted ciabatta bread instead of a croissant (why?!), and one wanted the pineapple on the side. I knocked them out, we cleaned, and it's the weekend! Oh, and Chef let me take home my mis en place*, so I have the stuff to make a few chicken sandwiches at home now, sans pineapple since I'm not a fan.

Next week I'm moving on to the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich. Should be fun; too bad not that many people order it. I have a feeling I'll be helping on the grill much more than actually making the mushroom sandwich.

My externship interview is on Tuesday next week!

*Mis en place is the term for all the food you have prepared at your station and your set up; for example my station had croissants, butterflied chicken breast, pineapple, julienned cabbage, carrot, and red onion, Asian vinaigrette, chicken marinade, wasabi mayonnaise, lola rosa lettuce, and strawberries. It just translates to "put in place."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The best pizza to ever come out of this kitchen"

That's right, according to Chef Kupper, I made him the best pizza he's ever had that came from Cafe Bleu.

Chef Kupper came to the restaurant wanting pizza. It isn't my station anymore, but the girl whose station it currently is happens to have had jury duty this morning. Chef Carlos said I would make Kupper his pizza, and I agreed. Chef asked for grilled chicken, and then asked where I'm from. After my answer, he said, "Well then make me a San Francisco pizza!"

Not knowing what that really meant, I figured artichoke hearts were a safe bet, because they're so California, and then I added olives because olives are great on pizza. I did his grilled chicken as well, just salt and pepper on a few tenderloins. I cooked the pizza 90% in the woodfired oven and finished it in a convection oven to brown the top a little bit.

Even when I dropped the pizza off in foundations 2, Kupper and Chef Mary were all over it, so excited to have pizza, impressed with how it looked. Then Chef Kupper came into the restaurant during service to tell me how great my pizza was. He told Chef Carlos too, so I guess that's some good points for me today!

Score!

Oh, and I made two chicken and pineapple sandwiches today. It's getting easy; too bad I only have two more days on that station!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich WIN

Success! Today I had orders for three chicken/pineapple sandwiches, and they went off without a hitch. Chef didn't even have a chance to yell at me, because when he started in, "I need at least one!" I had just put down two plates. Bam.

I thought it was going to be a lot more scary than it was. I think I could even handle five sandwiches at the same time like the guys on the chicken cordon bleu and salmon stations had to today. Maybe I'll get a chance to try this week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prep Prep Prep

I didn't think we could spend five hours just prepping for the week, but apparently we can.

The chicken sandwich is my dish this week, and it's very involved. It's a butterflied chicken breast and a pineapple slice, both marinated and grilled. It comes with a sweet and spicy slaw with an Asian vinaigrette, as well as wasabi mayonnaise, on a croissant. It's served with waffle fries.

So the prep looks like this:
julienne savoy cabbage
julienne bell peppers
julienne red onion
julienne carrot
make Asian vinaigrette (something like seven or eight ingredients)
cut pineapple into rounds and core, something I had never done until today
make wasabi powder, mix into mayo, the easiest step
make marinade for chicken and pineapple
peel potato and use mandolin to make waffle fries, which are more like chips

The prep for this dish is insane, but just like the other dishes I've seen, the actual cooking time won't be bad. All I have to do to make the dish is flat-top the croissant, spread the wasabi mayo, grill the chicken and the pineapple, put it under the broiler, put together the slaw, cut a strawberry for garnish, and plate it.

I think I may have inadvertently chosen the most intricate dish on the menu.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Next Food Network Star: Early Opinions

I have opinions on the contestants on The Next Food Network Star.

Aarti: For some reason, I love Aarti. "Aarti Party" is incredibly annoying, but otherwise, I think she's great. I love her accent, and I think she's pretty. She could totally be the next host of some Saturday morning Food Network show that no one watches.

Alexis: Well, he's gone already, and I doubt we're missing much. I do think there are worse people than him that are still on the show, though.

Aria: I am undecided. She was such a favorite in the first episode, winning both challenges. She seems a bit dull to me. I'm sure she can cook, but we don't know if she can host yet.

Brad: Damn this guy is cute. Too bad he has the personality of a month-old mango. I hope he gets better because... well, he's cute.

Brianna: She's stunning, but based on the "equal opportunity" formula for picking winners, she won't win. I'm pretty sure a sassy black girl has already won this show. Who knows though; the only two I can really name who've won are last year's winner (stupid Melissa) and Guy Fieri (who I love, and I don't care what you think about that!). Anyway, Brianna needs to lighten the hell up, and remove the stick from her behind.

DAS: Darrell, or whatever you want to call him. This man is charming as hell. He needs to work on his on-camera skillz (because that's how he would spell it), but I think he has a chance. That chicken tonight looked great, even if he did have the easiest ingredient (lemonade? Some people have to make a savory dish from funnel cake and you just have to use lemons?).

Doreen: Well, she's gone now too. I don't think she deserved it but her answer to "What's your culinary point of view?" was pretty pathetic. To be honest, I don't know if I could properly answer that question at this point.

Dzintra: Ah, here we go. I can't stand this woman. First of all, and of course it's not her fault, but her name is freaking awful. I want to smack her parents for thinking it would be cute to make up an awful first name to go with their already-weird last name, Dzenis. I mean, really. It sounds like a comic book character, and not one that I would read about. If I look past her name, it's still bleak. I think she should have gone home last week because she didn't actually cook anything for the main challenge, but maybe I'm unsympathetic. I thought she should have gone home this week for her disjointed dish and her odd attitude while serving it. She's just unappealing all around, and now I've done her the favor of writing more about her than any other contestants.

Herb: Gotta love a guy whose name is a category of cooking ingredients. I usually get tired of these "healthy" cooks, but Herb presents healthy food in a way that isn't irritating or too in your face. I can see him having a Saturday morning show that no one watches as well.

Paul: Too boring for me to even comment.

Serena: Wow, she's just like Giada, except pretty. This girl is incredibly gorgeous and I'd love her voice, if she would slow down enough so I can hear it. I really do think that she can cook, as well. Maybe she can take over one of Giada's shows. Or maybe instead of "Everyday Italian" she can have "Every Other Day Italian" or "Every Five Minutes Italian?" I'm just waiting for the cleavage to come out.

Tom: Well, he's from San Francisco, therefore I have to root for him. He's scruffy and cute; I think Brad is the kind of guy that's pretty to look at, but Tom is the kind of guy you actually want to date. He seems fun. That said, well, that's all I can say. It's my only opinion of him. I'm hoping that soon I will have more thoughts on his actual food.

Winner prediction: Aarti.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family Meal and More Good News

Today there were no pizza orders, but I did get to practice filleting fish for family meal. We had some sea bass and I filleted them, seasoned them, seared them, and finished them in the oven. The fish was really good. I went from, "I am so not a fish cook," to, "Maybe I am a fish cook!"

I also got my second 4.0 pin and certificate! The 4.0 pin is gold, and if you make honor roll without a 4.0, you get a silver one. I should have a silver one for the second quarter, but no one ever came by to announce them that quarter. Regardless of missing one pin, I very much enjoy having two gold ones.

The externship thing is still in process.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fun Day in Back of House

I know I said no one orders pizza, but we did make 12 of them for family meal today, with all different toppings. I think I'm getting pretty good at pizza. My favorite was the one that we used the garlic cream sauce on instead of marinara.

Today was really fun! I got to help out on the garde manger (salad) station since the guy doing it couldn't handle his orders, and then someone who works at the school actually did order a pizza! I put it in the woodfired oven and then finished it in a regular oven. Chef said it looked good, so I was pleased.

My review of El Taco Fresco made it into the Yelp weekly newsletter. In other good news, I think I have my externship all set up; I just have to make a couple of phone calls. It actually looks perfect for me, since it's a Chef Administrative Assistant job. I know I can do that! It's pretty much exactly what I wanted; something in a kitchen, but not so much with the stress and the crazy hours. I will update when I find out for sure.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No One Orders Pizza

That's right, no one orders pizza at Cafe Bleu. I was so excited to use a real pizza oven, and the only reason I got to do it once was that Chef let me practice one when service was over. It was really fun sliding the pizza in and watching it cook; I just wish I had more chances to do it today! Aside from cleaning for other people and helping other people prep, I had nothing to do for an hour and a half today.

I didn't really mind, but I'm definitely going for a more exciting station next week. You would think pizza would be the fun station! Even the soup station seemed to have more fun than me.

Tomorrow we are making a bunch of pizzas for family meal, so that should at least be fun. I want to come up with a pizza special that will actually get people to order some!

It really is amazing how much prep work there is compared to how long it takes to make a dish once it's all prepped. Prep takes two hours; making a dish takes five minutes. I guess I should have realized that by now but I just hadn't made the connection.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Day in Back of House

Today was my first day in the kitchen at the restaurant. We're closed on Mondays, so it wasn't too bad. I chose pizza to be my first station, both because I love pizza and because I've never made pizza before.

Of course I screwed something up; I added too much water to the pizza dough that I was prepping for tomorrow. Chef and I fixed it and it was fine. Now we have extra dough, so for family meal (that's what we eat before we open for lunch) we get to have pizza, so it was almost a happy mistake! The red sauce was easy to make.

I'm excited to get creative with some fun pizzas this week. Pizza and soup are the only two stations that actually run specials, which means I might actually get to make the "pizza of the day" on the menu, instead of only having Pizza Margherita.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recap: Front of House

Today I was front server, and I had three tables pretty much at the same time. I think I did really well. Of course it took this long to finally be completely comfortable with serving, and now I'm going to the back of the house next week!

I did well on my final and I have an A going into the kitchen. Both classes are graded together, and no one in the kitchen currently has an A, so we'll see how my final grade turns out. I figure if I bust my ass in the kitchen and don't talk back to Chef I'll be fine. He's known for being a little stubborn.

Here's hoping my blog entries from the kitchen will be a little more exciting than the past few have been! The most exciting thing about today is that we had two new soups: carrot ginger, and cream of mushroom. I didn't get to try them but I really wanted to!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Large Groups at Restaurants

Can I just tell everyone who takes a large group to a restaurant to be nice to servers? Sure, they're (usually) getting a huge tip at the end of the whole thing, but if you order a potato-leek soup for your baby and first thing you demand is to tell us snidely that it should be put into a cup instead of the bowl it comes in, that puts us in a sour mood.

Today was pretty tough; my table of 12 arrived at 11AM when we open and stayed well past 12:30 when we close. They were there until at least 1PM.

Now I know what serving a big party is like.

I have my final tomorrow and then I'm done with front of house!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Final Week of Serving!

Well, I've begun my final week in the front of the house (hopefully)! We have three days left of serving, then we go back to the kitchen. Honestly, I'm nervous about that, since all we've heard for the past two weeks is Chef yelling at people.

The students in the kitchen had their practical exam today, and I don't think any of them did very well. We ate some of their food and it was not so great. I hope my team does better when we get back there!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Updates on Serving

Serving is not so bad. I served Chef Lauer today, who is the head of the culinary program. It's a good thing he already likes me or I would have been really stressed out about it.

I still can't wait to get to the back of the house and then out of here! I just need to find a place to do my internship.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Serving Even More Children

Yesterday was a good day for serving. I was the front server, and I only had three tables total. One was a couple that was slightly grumpy but overall fine, one was three nice older ladies, and the last was four executives from my school.

Today we were closed to the public again so we could serve another 100 kids. In a way it's nicer not to have to take orders or be so formal, but it's still 100 freakin' kids!

Friday is a very nice feeling right now.

Happy NASCAR Day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First Day of Serving

Well, I served my first fine dining table today. I was supposed to be a "back server" which just means busser, but we got slammed at lunch. What do they expect when they only serve lunch for an hour and a half? So I ended up waiting on one table myself and bussing for three.

Three total grumps sat at my table. There I was trying to show my friendly, happy, great server side, and all they would do was grunt their orders to me. It wasn't horrible, but everyone else had nice people at their tables who kept telling them how good everything was and what a good job they were doing. Since we don't get to keep tips, praise is all we can get from these people, and I didn't even get that.

Otherwise, the day went fine. I was nervous for no good reason; I learned the computer system, didn't mess up any orders, didn't spill or break anything. Now the only thing I'm really dreading is having someone order a whole bottle of wine, since we have to do the fancy opening at the table, the whole fine dining blah.

I never thought I would miss working at a diner. When I was 21 I worked at a probably now defunct place called the Fireside Grill, and I was the only front of house person. I got to wear whatever I wanted and serve however I wanted. We had an old school register, donuts and coffee in the morning, and a fridge full of beer. My customers were a bunch of working men- guys from places like Interstate Batteries, because the diner was in an industrial part of town. I didn't have to put anything on a tray (today I had to deliver a salt shaker on a tray!) or serve the women first, or put the plate down a certain way. My boss there was a jerk, but that was the only bad thing about that job.

At least my boss at Cafe Bleu isn't a jerk.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Children... Lots of Children

Today wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was a little ridiculous. Who gets the idea to bring 110 six year olds to a nice restaurant?

We served them pasta with red sauce. I'm sure there were at least some of them wondering what kind of fancy French school would serve something like that. At least the mothers must have been thinking it. They liked it, and they liked their fruit cups. The dessert, chocolate mousse, either went untouched or was completely finished.

Serving a bunch of kids was weird, but it was definitely lower pressure than what I'm expecting tomorrow. At least the kids were drinking out of plastic cups; the glasses are the hardest thing to balance on a tray, as I found out today.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Day of Restaurant

I'm out of this building in six weeks (unless I decide to stay for my internship)!

I am working front of house in the restaurant for the next three weeks, then back of house for the three after that. My posts will probably be a bit more random while I'm in front of house, since I won't have actual cooking to talk about. I might post about what I cook at home, or keep doing restaurant reviews. That's been fun, and I still owe a post about 777, so look for that this week.

Today in the restaurant, we polished silverware and set tables. Tomorrow we are serving a group of 110 first graders. Joy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Firefly

Ah, Firefly. Where do I even begin?

Right. I begin with sangria, like I always do. Happy hour gets you half off sangria plus a free tapas. A pitcher during regular hours will be around $18 and should get two people through dinner at around three glasses each. They offer red, white, and sparkling sangria. I can't say I've tried any other than the red; why mess with perfection?

A free bread basket is always good, especially when it comes with the amazing herb butter they make in-house. Olives are served on the side.

The menu isn't huge but seems daunting. You absolutely have to read the titles and the descriptions of each dish. Does "Stuffed dates" sound appealing? Maybe it does, but the additional "bacon wrapped, smoked almond, red wine reduction, blue cheese" can't hurt.

Assuming you're a party of two, and you've waded through the menu, order at least three things per person. Of course, at happy hour for a snack, one item is perfect, but I'm talking dinner here. Some dishes that my other half and I never fail to order: Stuffed Dates (sometimes one order for each of us; an order gets you five), Chicken and Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms, Manchego Mac n Cheese, Mushroom Tart, and Petite Filet. Some that are not always necessary but we love them: Patatas Bravas, Albondigas, Crispy Duck Rolls, and Steak and Mushroom Skewers. We probably end up with ten different dishes every time we go there.

I would like to make it through the entire menu, but my go-to plates are so delicious that I'm only able to try one or two new things every time! Last time I did get the Crispy Duck Rolls for the first time, and I will definitely be getting them again. I haven't tried any of their five entrees, but I'm intrigued by the Paella and will try it soon.

This is another do-not-skip-dessert place. There are very few places where I must have dessert; this is one of them. At least every second time I eat at Firefly, I order the Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding. Actually, desire would be a more appropriate word. I desire this dessert. Bread pudding is my favorite dessert, and this is one of the best I've ever had.

Firefly has two locations. One is downtown in the Plaza hotel, with a gorgeous view of Fremont street from a big glass dome where most of the seating is. The other is on Paradise, near the Hard Rock, convenient for visitors from the Strip, with excellent ambiance and an outdoor patio. The food is excellent and the menu is the same at both locations.

Parking is easy and free. Reservations are a good idea; they can be made via OpenTable.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Nobu

After eating at Sen of Japan, where the Chef trained under Chef Nobu, I was excited to try the original Chef's recipes.

It was Mothers' Day, so I had reservations well in advance. I recommend reservations for any day of the week.

Of course they had a wine list, but I went for beer as I am known to. They have a Nobu Ale, which the waiter told me was actually made in Japan. It was a nice, almost amber ale type beer, slightly malty, not too hoppy. I could tell that it would go with anything we ordered.

I think I ordered for everyone! I had to get the hamachi nigiri, because that's basically my indicator of the quality and freshness of the fish, and it's my favorite at sushi places. The actual sushi comes last at Nobu. First we had tempura: avocado, sweet potato, Japanese eggplant, and lotus root. They were all great; I had never had lotus root tempura before, and the only place I'd had avocado tempura was at Sen.

We ordered the two dishes from Nobu that I made in my Contemporary Cuisine class: the hamachi sashimi and the glazed cod. Both were fantastic. My hamachi in school was probably as good as the one at Nobu, but of course they cooked the glazed cod much better. The hamachi is marinated in yuzu juice and served with a little garlic and jalapeno, just perfect. The cod is glazed with a sweet soy and grilled to just barely done.

For my entree, I ordered the scallops in the spicy garlic sauce. They were wonderful, but I'm sure I'm biased, since I turn into a puddle of happiness when it comes to scallops. They were diver scallops and there were probably ten on the plate! Nobu does not skimp on portions.

The sushi, which came last, was on par with the quality I expected from such a place. Hamachi was delicious.

Overall, Nobu was nice. We ended up at around $70 a person (estimate- I didn't see the check), with three of us drinking, two desserts, and a lot of food.

Parking is easy normally, but a concert at The Joint could make parking difficult, so check the schedule before you reserve. Dress is anywhere from t-shirts and jeans to black tie.

The wait staff is a bit overbearing, removing plates to give new ones after every dish is served, and there seemed to be far too many of them to attend to a table of four people.

Overall, it was good. I doubt I'll go there again for a while, though.

Next up: Firefly and 777.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam

On Saturday, Devin and I took my parents to Lotus of Siam. We have been in a bowling league with most of the waitstaff for about a year now, and we've been meaning to go there. When an article about this year's James Beard award floated my way, I noticed that among the nominees, which included the Chefs from Joel Robuchon and Rick Moonen, was the Chef from Lotus of Siam. That sealed the deal; we had to go there as soon as possible.

The restaurant is easy to drive right by; there's a sign on what looks like a warehouse on Sahara, just east of the Strip. Never fear; the entrance is on the other side, and the ambiance is nice. We didn't have reservations but got in at 7PM on a Saturday night with no problem. The crowd started showing up at 8, so I would recommend reservations for a later meal.

The wine list is huge, but since I didn't know what I was planning on eating, I just ordered a beer. They have both Singha and Chang beer from Thailand. The menu is similarly huge, probably ten pages of dishes conveniently numbered so you don't have to fumble through pronunciations if you aren't used to ordering Thai food.

I started with the Tom Yum Kai soup, which is my favorite thing to eat at Thai restaurants. I asked for it hot-spicy. Heed my warning: If you're at all nervous about your heat threshold, go for medium-spicy. I love really spicy food, so I thought the soup was great. I also ordered the Spicy Catfish. It was thin filets of fish battered and fried, with a delicious sauce, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even had leftovers since we ordered so many other dishes.

Other things ordered were the stuffed chicken wings appetizer, the chicken satay with peanut sauce, and the jackfruit dish, which was, I believe, mashed jackfruit, pork, and herbs in a spicy sauce. That one was delicious, as was everything else. My Dad ordered a salmon dish, which he said was really great. I believe it because there was absolutely nothing left on his plate when he was done, and the man knows his salmon. Devin ordered the Pad Thai, which was probably the best I've ever had. The noodles were very thin compared to the rice stick noodles that are usually used for Pad Thai, and it was also hot enough to excite my spice-seeking palate, even when ordered at medium-spicy.

Then came dessert. One of my favorite things in the world is sticky rice with mango, so we ordered that. They put a dessert platter together for us that included the rice, mango, some coconut ice cream, and some fried bananas. They do their fried bananas in phyllo dough, which is something I'd never seen before, and I loved it. Do not skip dessert, even if it means taking some of your main course home like we did.

The service was excellent, and I'm not just saying that because our waiter was one of our bowling buddies. They were attentive, and when we asked to take about five different things home, they took the plates away and boxed everything separately for us. Most impressive and refreshing: My Dad asked the waiter what he should order from two choices, and the waiter honestly told him which dish he liked better (the salmon), instead of pulling the, "Well, they're both good..." junk that waitstaff usually gives you when you ask for a recommendation.

I thought the price was incredible considering how much food we had. Including food, drinks, dessert, and two hours of just fun eating, we walked out at less than $40 a person. Parking is convenient, abundant, and free.

I can see why people call this place the best Thai restaurant in America. It's the best one that I've been to. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this restaurant.

*Look for upcoming reviews of Nobu, Firefly, and 777. I figure Lotus deserves its own entry.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free Day

Today was a free-for-all. I made my grandma's rice and meat, which was so good that Chef stole some to take home. I guess he likes my food.

Then I made some sushi rolls, which is always a good time.

One more day until my four day weekend! I need to figure out where to take my parents for dinner tonight; it's their last night in town. I'm thinking Fleur de Lys or maybe The Mix. We did Firefly last night, Nobu the night before, and Lotus of Siam on Saturday. I'll review them all here tomorrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feijoada

The national dish of Brazil is called feijoada. It's a beans and rice dish, served with all kinds of garnishes.

First, we sauteed onions and garlic, what else would come first? Then we added the beans and chicken stock and cooked them until tender. Ham hocks came next, and when they got tender we took them out and pulled the meat from the bones. We cooked some chicken on the side and cut up some already-cooked chorizo sausage. It was really good served with rice. The garnishes were greens sauteed in garlic, an onion and cilantro relish, and salsa.

Tomorrow is free day, basically. We're making sushi again, because Taylor really wanted to, and I'm making my Grandma's rice and meat.

The block is almost done!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lebanese Girl For the Win

I was going to call this post "Middle Eastern Day," but I already have a post titled that.

We got to class and tried the previous class's hummus. It was not good. I'm glad I was already in charge of the baba ghannouj, because I wasn't about to risk that being as bad as the hummus. Chef started telling us about the recipe, and he mentioned all the usual suspects: chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Then he said something about Tabasco and my mouth dropped open. He went on to mention cumin and coriander, and said that the most important ingredient is water! Then my head exploded.

After I cleaned up the mess, I got to making my baba ghannouj. I used the food processor for eggplant, tahini, garlic, drained yogurt, and onion. You could taste that the eggplant was cooked on the grill, which is the entire goal of the dish. It was awesome, and I caught Chef packing some to take home with him.

Taylor and I were plotting to make my hummus recipe instead of Chef's, but Chef caught him and started adding water, Tabasco, cumin, coriander, essentially ruining the hummus. Luckily, there were some chickpeas left after some other kids made falafel, so I made my hummus. Like I said, it's chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and olive oil if needed. Then it gets topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some cayenne. That's it. It got eaten way faster than Chef's did, and even Chef said it was good when he tried it. Everyone who did a side by side taste test said mine was better. I'm sure I looked very smug in class today.

We also made some chicken marinated in yogurt and then grilled on a flat top, which is the dish I used to eat at Lebanese restaurants as a kid, back when I was a picky eater. Of course, we made flatbread as well, three batches this time because we love our bread.

Three more days of class!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Miso Soup, Chicken Satay, and Red Chicken

Today we made a bunch of really delicious food.

Yesterday the class marinated strips of chicken breast, and today we stuck them on skewers and made chicken satay with peanut sauce. It was probably the best chicken satay I've ever had; most places don't marinate it first so it usually isn't as tender as it was today. The peanut sauce was good enough to eat with a spoon. Not that I did that or anything (I totally did).

We made the red chicken with the thighs and legs from the satay chickens. It's a braised chicken dish cooked in a Chinese sand pot, with all the usual suspects for Chinese food, plus dark soy sauce. The chicken ends up bright red and really tender.

I was bugging Chef all day to show me the miso soup; since I had a pretty good idea of how to make it I just wanted to get started. The broth used is Nori Kombu, a seaweed, broth, and the whole thing takes about four steps. Heat the broth, add some dried nori which will bloom in it, dissolve the dashi with some hot broth, add it to the pot, and then add tofu. Done. Miso soup is my favorite, so I'm glad I can make it at home now.

Chef made this really crazy fried fish. He basically filleted a fish on both sides, leaving the head and tail attached, scored the fish, stuffed the tail through the head so the tail came out of the mouth, and battered and fried it. He made an Asian sauce with black soybeans and ground pork to serve with it. It was really freaky looking but pretty delicious.

Tomorrow is Middle Eastern day, so I'm in charge, or so Chef says. He told me to start on the eggplant for the baba ghannouj first thing, and then tried to tell me I was doing it wrong. I don't think so. I split the eggplants, brushed them with olive oil, salted them, and grilled them. Then I scooped out the insides so we have them ready for the dish tomorrow. He wanted me to "fire-roast" the eggplants; I think he wanted to use the skin! No thanks, dude. We'll see who knows more about baba ghannouj tomorrow, when mine is the best he's ever tried.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Day

Arriba and stuff.

Today we made our carnitas. We deep fried the marinated pork (healthy, right?) and then braised it in some chicken stock with onions and garlic. Yum. We made tortillas and tortilla chips. Corrinne and I made the guacamole again, because we're so good at it. Chef made us Mexican rice because whoever tried to make it burned the first batch.

Then I went and took my TAM card class. If you're not from Nevada, you don't have to worry about it, but here we have to have a TAM card for just about every job. It's short for Techniques of Alcohol Management, and it's nothing I didn't learn to pass my ServSafe exam, but hey, come Monday I'll have the card.

I am excited to make miso soup tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Potato Day

I honestly don't remember what the first thing we made was called. It was similar to a frittata, but Chef called it something else. It was delicious, just eggs, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Most of us ate it with hot sauce.

We made vichysoisse, which is a cold potato leek soup. It's better hot, so when I have my leftovers I won't be calling it vichysoisse.

Then we made potato pancakes by grating potatoes, adding in some flour, egg yolk, and seasoning, and pan-frying them.

But the best part was the smashed potatoes. Not mashed, smashed. We boiled some waxy potatoes until they were done, and smashed them into a patty with a frying pan. That was really fun to do. Then we pan-fried them and served them with sour cream and bacon bits. It was like ordering potato skins at a restaurant, except you get the whole potato. Chef said one of his old restaurants served their filet mignon on top of one of those, and it was always a huge hit. I can see why.

We also started our carnitas for Cinco de Mayo tomorrow!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Clam Chowder

Today I made clam chowder. I made it too thin but it tasted good so I ate it anyway. We also made some yucca chips in the fryer, which were good.

Then we were supposed to make some boiled potato dish with a yellow bell pepper sauce and hard-boiled eggs, so I cut out early, since that sounded and looked gross ("Peruvian" my foot), plus I had grocery shopping and studying to do. Of course I'm sitting here typing this instead of studying, but I got my shopping done before the post-3pm rush at the store!

I am looking forward to Wednesday; Chef asked what we want to make for Cinco de Mayo. I said I wanted carnitas so hopefully that's what we'll make.

I can't believe we're in week 5 already! Projects and finals are happening pretty soon. The test I have tomorrow that I need to study for is 10% of my final grade in my politics class, so I need to get on that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stuffed Peppers, Chicken Masala, and Goulash

We started our day making stuffed peppers, Middle Eastern style, so I jumped on that. We sauteed ground beef and set it aside, then sauteed onions and garlic with some spices that included cumin and cinnamon. Then we added some tomato paste and diced tomatoes, threw the beef back in, and mixed it all up. We mixed in raisins, pine nuts, cilantro, and lemon zest. That's where I called it a day and made a bowl of the stuffing for myself. The rest of the stuffing went into bell peppers, which we then baked. The stuffing was delicious; I don't know why anyone would want to taint it with bell peppers. I wish we had gotten some zucchini to stuff!

Then we made chicken masala. It was the first time I made my own from beginning to end. We tossed the chicken in chickpea flour, seared it, and set it aside. Chef made us an aromatic oil to use to continue the dish. We threw some onions, garlic, and ginger in with the oil, along with our masala spice mix, then some tomato. We added the chicken back in and finished the dish with some yogurt. Mine was delicious and I was proud of myself. We made some naan bread to go with the curry.

Some of the kids made spaetzle while we worked on other dishes, because we were going to finally eat our goulash from Tuesday! When it came out and we heated it up, the meat was incredibly tender and the sauce was to die for. The main spice in goulash is paprika, and it has a ton of onions in it as well, which I love. Goulash + spaetzle + shredded cabbage + sour cream? Score!

Obviously, today was a good day. I think I cooked more today than I have any other day in this class. It was fun and the food was great, plus I have leftovers of everything!

Chef made us bananas foster for dessert. By then I was so full, I only ate one bite! The booze flavor was a little overpowering, but the caramel sauce was really good anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken, French Omelet, and Pineapple Foster

I call it pineapple foster for lack of a better word. Basically, we cooked pineapple in brown sugar, cinnamon, and some spices. I know there were some whole cloves in there. Then we flambeed it and served it with vanilla bean ice cream. I had a little bit of ice cream but I don't like pineapple, and it definitely still tasted like pineapple even after all we did to it.

We cooked our Jamaican jerk chicken after marinating it for two days. Damn, it was good. Jerk chicken is one of my favorite foods in the world.

Chef showed us how to make a French omelet. Did you know that the French traditional omelet is just eggs, salt, and butter? It's a tri-folded thing, which you have to make perfectly using only a fork, and only then can you cut it open and add a filling. Oh, and it has to be exactly three eggs. I find the whole thing a little eyeroll-worthy, but whatever.

We also made some flat bread to eat with our chicken. I made a little taco-like thing with some thigh meat, some cilantro and lime, and the bread. Yum!

Chef even let us have a little Gewurtztraminer to go with the jerk chicken. Double yum.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chili Rellenos, Mole Chicken, and Guacamole

This week we are focusing on the "new world," that is, food that originated in North and South America.

We made chili rellenos with the same Mexican cheese we used last week; I think it's called poquino or something like that. It's like really creamy string cheese and melts really well. I'm not a fan of the texture of peppers, but I don't mind poblanos very much. For the fried goodness on the outside we made an egg batter. They were pretty tasty.

Tim made the mole sauce, as I knew he would. It was dried smoked chilies, raisins, a few spices, a bit of chocolate, and a few other things. I should have paid more attention to that. It was delicious on the chicken.

Corrinne and I made the guacamole, as I am prone to do. We added jalapenos, habaneros, and garlic to the regular suspects of lime, cilantro, red onion, and tomato. It sure looked like everyone liked it, since we used seven avocados and it was gone within minutes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dim Sum Day

Today was dim sum day, so we made pot stickers, wontons, fried spring rolls, and some fried dessert rolls. We also had a Chinese soup with pork meatballs.

The rolls weren't hard to make at all, but you'd never know it by most of my classmates' attempts. We filled the dessert ones with chocolate and banana, deep fried them, and coated them in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

I've made pot stickers before, but I didn't really know how to do it, so I tried frying them and steaming them. At school we seared one side of them, and then added water and covered the pan to steam them, which turned out better than either of my attempts at home. I guess I learned something today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pho, Spring Rolls, and Pad Thai

Today we focused on those glassy noodles you find in pho and pad Thai.

Corrinne and I made the sausage meatballs and sliced the beef for the pho, so we could eat some right away. I love soup so much; pho is no exception. I can't stop pronouncing it wrong in my head, though. It's pronounced "fuh" but I keep thinking "fo." Oh well.

I made a spring roll for myself. I've never been a huge fan; they were decent. Other people went crazy for them. I used a lot of Sriracha today, in the pho and in my spring roll.

The pad Thai was good; Pedro made mine since I was busy cleaning so we could get out early. Dev and I have to get down to Laughlin tonight and we want to beat traffic!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pupusas, Quesadillas, and Churros

Yum, today we made Mexican food. Pupusas are masa dough balls stuffed with mozzarella, then fried in a skillet. We served them with a marinara-like sauce and some cabbage and carrot slaw.

My team worked on the tortillas and then made the quesadillas. The Mexican cheese we used was similar to mozzarella, but creamier. They turned out to be some of the best quesadillas I've ever had, and Chef was impressed with our tortillas. It was pretty much the first time we impressed Chef as a class, or at least the first time he said anything about it. He's from Jersey; you never really know with those East Coasters anyway.

After we were almost done with the quesadillas and pupusas, Chef said, "Who wants to make churros?" Well, we all did. They looked easy to make; I didn't make the batter but I helped to fry them up.

I love churros so much. They remind me of the Exploratorium, a kids' science museum in San Francisco that I used to go to all the time. The first time I ever had a churro was there; I had to be maybe seven. I was obsessed. I had to have one every time I returned, and we had season passes so it was often. And that's my Eve-memory of the day, folks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moroccan Chicken

Today we made Moroccan chicken with couscous and Moroccan bread. I made the bread, since the chicken is basically the same method as Indian food with different spices. Moroccan spice is almost indistinguishable in smell, and that's because it's half cumin and half cinnamon. When you smell it, you just get this, "Wow, this smells great but I have no idea what's in it!" feeling.

Also, I would like to profess my love for harisa at this time. It's a condiment in Moroccan cuisine, but I would use it on just about anything. It's made with red peppers, but the standout tastes are the chilies and the spices. I knew about it before, but hadn't tried it until today. Yum!

Tomorrow we're making more Mexican food, including flour tortillas, my favorite. I know corn is more traditional, but what can I say? I'm still a white girl.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pasta Coming out of my Ears

We made Italian style pasta today: Fettuccine Alfredo, Pasta puttanesca, tortellini with marinara, and gnocchi with pesto. I am so full right now, and really just want a nice piece of fish or something for dinner.

Pasta is really easy to make once you get the hang of it. Gnocchi is a bit of a pain but it's worth it, because it's so delicious. Sometime this week I will use my new pasta attachment (thanks Mom and Dad!) for my KitchenAid and make some fresh pasta at home.

Sen of Japan was ridiculously good. I had avocado tempura, which I have never seen on a menu before. They have a lot of sushi rolls that involve mango, so I ordered one with mango, eel, and kiwi. It was amazing. They also have the best hamachi I've ever had. I will be back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soba and Udon

I am very familiar with both soba and udon noodles, but most of the class wasn't. We served the soba cold with a dipping sauce of soy, mirin, dashi, and yuzu. I made the sauce. We had the udon noodles in a hot broth with seaweed, and oh man, yum.

Tim is the best ever; he brought a cake for me because it's my birthday. He got it right, too: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

I can't wait to eat at Sen of Japan tonight. I will have a full report tomorrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tamales and Arancini

Today we used some of our leftover risotto to make arancini. Basically, you form the risotto into little balls, stuff them with mozzarella or another cheese, bread them, and deep fry them. We ate them with tomato sauce. Yum!

We also made tamales. Now, there will never be tamales as good as Tamale Lady SF's, but these were decent. We used a queso and some poblano chilies for the filling. Tamales are pretty easy to make.

And now, to celebrate my birthday weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Polenta Cakes and Risotto

For lack of a better word, and due to my desire not to use the term "casserole," I will call the first dish we made polenta cakes. We made the polenta a couple of days ago and left it in the walk-in to cool. It's just made with really fine cornmeal and water, so easy. Today we cut it into squares and fried it, then baked it in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella. It was so good!

We also made mushroom risotto. I worked with Tim like I usually do, and ours turned out the best! Risotto is easy to make, just sweat onions and garlic, add the rice and cook it for a bit, add a little white wine, then chopped up mushrooms (or anything), then add stock and continue to slowly add more until the risotto is cooked. We finished ours with Parmesan and butter, and topped it with some mushrooms that we had sauteed on the side. Mmmmushrooms. I love them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Indian Food

Today we made an Indian rice dish with onion, garlic, ginger, chicken, spices, and basmati rice. It was yummy and I have lots of leftovers, which I love! We also made naan bread, and another Indian bread that is whole wheat and deep-fried.

Tomorrow we are making risotto!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fried Rice and Sushi

Fried rice, easy, whatever. Day-old rice, ginger, vegetables, dark soy sauce, etc.

SUSHI! I love sushi so much. We had tuna and avocado, which is really all I could ask for. I made two nigiri, a regular maki roll with the tuna, avocado, cucumber, sushi rice, and seaweed, and then I made a hand roll with the same ingredients. It was so fun; I haven't made sushi since high school! I don't think anyone else in class had made it before, and several of our rolls, including mine, came out really nicely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rice and Grains, and More Wok Time

Today we learned all about grains and rice, and then made stir-fries and curries to go with some. Tim and I were going to work on a Thai red curry, so I got the jasmine rice started right away.

Chef ambushed me and asked me to make the spicy eggplant dish, which meant I got to use the wok at 800 degrees. Scary! It took me a while to get used to it, but it was fun. Almost everyone made a stir-fry or a curry today; we all ate a lot.

Tomorrow we're having fried rice for breakfast and then it's sushi time! I love sushi so much.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chinese Stir-Fry and Tempura

Today we made tempura, which is easier than I thought. We made shiitake mushrooms, my favorite, plus eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and shrimp. Oh, and bell peppers, blech. All of the ones I actually ate were delicious, and I know I ate way too much of it!

Then Chef made three stir-frys. We prepped everything and Chef used the wok to make them. The first was Sichuan spicy eggplant and tofu, which was amazing. I love spicy food! Then he made the Mandarin dish. Mandarin is a classier region in China, food-wise. The dish was delicate, with chicken, tree mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. I've never actually seen whole bamboo shoots before; I've only seen the kind cut into strips and canned, so that was interesting. The last stir-fry Chef made was the Cantonese one. He kept telling us that it was the nice version of the Chinese food we are used to.

As I ate, I recognized the taste of all three cuisines. I grew up in San Francisco. We have all kinds of Chinese food, not just Cantonese. A lot of the kids from Vegas hadn't had Mandarin or Sichuan before.

I always see it spelled Szechuan, by the way. I guess it's a translation, so both are probably correct.

Happy weekend! I have AC/DC tickets for tonight; what are you doing?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Duck Confit, Tapenade and Crostinis, and Yet More Fries

Today we finally got to eat the confit we've been working on since Monday. Remember back when I was in Foundations III and I said the duck confit wasn't good enough to merit it taking four days to make? We must have done something different this time, because it really was great.

I made the tapenade, which is olives, capers, basil, garlic, and oil, blended. We ate it on crostinis and it was salty, salty goodness.

We also had a green salad and some fries. Those kids love their fries, I tell you what.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Indian and Chinese

Today we made curry and some Chinese red chicken. I didn't work on the chicken dish, but it had dark soy sauce and a bunch of seasoning, not much else. They cooked the chicken in a Chinese sand pot on the stovetop and then reduced it to a glaze. It was delicious.

Our curry was great too, except the eggplant wasn't as fresh as it should have been. We had zucchini and chickpeas in it, both of which I love, and lots of onion, garlic, and ginger. The curry spice mix contains an insane amount of different spices, toasted and then ground. I can't even list them off the top of my head.

For some reason, my class has finally come together on the cleaning thing. It used to take us at least half an hour to clean, and now we can do it in ten minutes. I'm not sure if the chef just isn't as strict, or if we've become better at cleaning as we go, or we just aren't cooking as much stuff so we have fewer dishes. In any case, it's a good thing. We've gotten out on time every day so far!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duck, Carrots, Turnips, and Potatoes

Today we focused on bringing out the natural flavors in a dish. We made sauteed duck breasts, caramelized carrots and turnips, and potatoes seared and then cooked in chicken stock with some rosemary.

It was delicious. The caramelization we did today was a lot more subtle that what we've done in the past; we used way less sugar and just let the vegetables taste like themselves. Yum!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cuisine Across Cultures

Today we started a new block, with American and Nevada Government (ugh) and Cuisine Across Cultures. This class seems like it's going to be fun. Today we just had a lecture and Chef let us make lunch, so we made roasted chicken, green bean casserole, french fries, and gravy. Corrinne and I did the chickens and the gravy, which were obviously great.

The best thing? I get out right after my cooking class instead of having to go to another lecture class. That was brutal last block.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Volunteering at Quail Hollow Farm

Today my friend Rachel and I went to volunteer at Quail Hollow Farm. We started at 8 AM, which meant we had to leave Vegas a little before 7.

We got there and were immediately put to work picking spinach. Their spinach is amazing; the leaves are huge. After that we were moved to radishes, which I'm not a huge fan of, but they are super fun to pick. Then we cut some lettuce and some Swiss chard, which is a huge lettuce with bright multi-colored stems. Last, we cut some asparagus.

Then it was time to assemble the farm baskets. These are the baskets that the people who have a share in the farm get every week. They are huge! Not only did they contain what we picked, they also had carrots, two kinds of turnips, and several other kids of lettuce.

The farm itself is amazing. We got to play with baby goats, and I petted a couple of cute pigs. There were crazy birds everywhere; chickens, roosters, some mean-looking geese, and huge turkeys.

We were there for six hours in all, and it was so worth it. I would go back there to help again. Their Wednesdays are insane!