Tuesday, September 30, 2008
project education tea begins friday. over the next few weeks/months i will be tasting and learning about the 150+ teas the teacup carries.
you know how your heart does that power-beating thing in your chest & you get really warm when you're really anxious about something? that was me when i looked at my phone & saw there was a voicemail from a missed a call from the teacup.
friday had gone REALLY well -at least, i thought it did. at the close of the interview, the owner & manager said they had narrowed their choices down to 4 people (including me!) for the two positions available & were pretty sure they could make their decision by that evening & would be making calls during the weekend, or at least notifying the potentials of their status by tuesday (which, by the way, i appreciate. i hate it when you have really awesome (1st, 2nd, 3rd) interviews, then never hear from the company again).
when i didn't hear from them friday evening, i began to (over)analyze the interview like it was a first date, wondering why he hasn't called yet. did i have something in my teeth? was i not the definition & perfect balance of wit & intelligence? was my enthusiasm read as desperation?
did i say something wrong? maybe i came across a little cocky & not humorously confident ["since i know you're going to hire me, what is the process of getting to know all these teas?"] or, perhaps more or less bribing them wasn't a good idea ["tea+me= cakes/goodies i'm working on...::wink,wink::"].
so. back to the voicemail. once i heard "we'd like to offer..." i was elated. i did a hop, skip, & a jump & rode that through sanitation class (which is taught by, in my opinion, a fear-mongering, intense bigot).
(if you're looking for a grater/zester, i highly suggest buying microplane. it's a little more expensive, but a great kitchen investment.)
after cleaning & wrapping the wound, i had to put a cover over my thumb so i could continue working (i was in the middle of working chef berger's recipe of pear pudding. it smells like christmas.). the cover looks exactly like a condom & is rolled onto the finger like one as well, except it's 1/2" in diameter. i felt like i was in health class, practicing correct condom use on a banana.
my first try at frosting & piping.
it took me a while to smooth the sides out & i'm fairly happy with the rosettes. i'm annoyed that the person who boxed it for me smudged two of the rosettes (as you can see).
it's a white velvet butter cake & chocolate italian buttercream.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
it's not all bad though.
the people: i get to work with interesting people with various backgrounds & experiences.
there's *L, who spent the last 5 years working in chile for a non-profit group. *J, who puts in 110% has an alcoholic housemate who often goes into a violent rage before blacking out. *LW moved here with promises of a job & place to stay, only to find it was all a lie & is now couch-surfing while determining whether to stay or to go. there's the guy who is taking his chances & moving to maui to tend bar & surf after quitting his much hated banking job.
the food: the staff eats whatever the guests are served for the evening. i'm not a fan of banquet food; it's not bad, but it's not all that great...but what can one expect when feeding/serving upwards of several 100+ people at one time? however, there are a few gigs in which the food is pretty awesome. for instance, the wedding anniversary had an antipasti (cured olives & meats, fresh mozzarella, artichokes, thin, grilled asparagus stalks), a duet of steak & halibut, & custard fruit tarts. & because the owner of a local brewery is a member of the country club & is kind enough to donate...there were free beers for the staff (consumed after the guests left during break-down, not service. we're responsible.).
the guests/clients/event: while working benaroya hall, i got to see graham kerr, of 'the galloping gourmet' fame -he helped shaped my interest in food as a kid. i had the opportunity to listen to steve ballmer give an inspiring speech on the importance of investing in the community one lives in (emphasis on schools/education) & his response to a question regarding immigration (i wanted to hug him).
i saw an elegant celebration of a marriage for my first gig -bride fresh-faced & glowing. yesterday, i witnessed the lasting love of a couple celebrating 50 years of life together -arms entwined, eyes locked on the dance floor.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
my daily schedule:
1:20pm-1:40: demonstration (when working w/chef berger)
2:00pm-4:30 (tues/thurs): safety & sanitation
theory varies throughout the quarter & reviews things like equipment, history of various pastries/breads, & basic food chemistry. lab is spent in the kitchen (♥♥♥) & is broken down into groups (cakes, pies, cookies, breads, etc..) of 3-4 people. we spend 2-3 weeks in each group & rotate through all sessions. the chef roams the kitchen guiding everyone's work & answers any concerns. during demonstration, chef berger will lecture briefly on a particular skill or food item. for instance, today he discussed pluots/plums/prunes & we sampled a fantastic plum cake/galette (shaped like a free-form tart, but on some amazing brioche) he made.
there are two instructors: chef berger & chef harris. chef harris teaches theory, but i haven't had much interaction with him yet. in lab, i report to chef berget (burr-jhay); he has an intimidating stance & stern look, but when he is joking around (which he often does...he made jokes about being regular during his prune speech) his facial features soften & you can't help but smile to yourself with his lilting accent. i haven't personally seen this side yet, but three girls in my class have already been berated a few times (supposedly, he yelled at the girls about their eclairs -"these need more filling, they are too light!"- & threw one on the table.) & i am anxious for the day when he gets chef ramsey on my ass.
at the end of the day, i am red from running around the kitchen, my hands feel dry from so many washings, & my feet hurt from standing all day; overall, i am exhausted, but i couldn't be any happier.
Friday, September 19, 2008
i haven't been as aggressive in finding a new job as i probably should be for a few reasons:
- i want to gauge what i can handle while starting the baking/pastry program which will be consuming most of my life for the next two years.
- i'd like something that will compliment my career goals, or pay more/hour (i'd rather not have to slave several hours for minimum wage unless i know it will get my foot in the door somewhere).
- i've found a temp wait-staff agency that is extremely flexible to my schedule. they call in the mornings & fill me in on any opening for the next few days/weeks & i pick & choose to my needs.
although i don't mind playing wait-staff & love variety at work, i can see the gigs with the temp agency wearing on my sanity pretty quickly. i prefer that my job be outlined to a degree. a general example of an event: i show up at the specified time & location, desperately search for the evening's contact or other team members, then scramble around & try to be useful while the head honcho figures out what he'd like us to do. as much as i like free/easy money, i feel guilty if i've been hired for something & i'm not doing anything -i'd rather be at home not being paid than sitting around feeling useless.
also, i'm tired of being snapped at by the permanent wait-staff. no, i don't know where the extra linens are kept. no, i don't know where the bar-jacks are supposed to be set. no, i didn't know that this is how you guys normally do it because i'm just doing what your boss-man has shown me. i don't expect kindness, but i do expect some respect & loath condescension.
anyhow, the thought that i may get the opportunity to learn more about tea (history, culture, variety) is pretty thrilling.
also, i'm applying to become a reporter/editor for the campus newspaper -there is some compensation, but i am hoping it provides some experience writing as a professional (plugging ideas, researching, deadlines, quotas).
the picture of the knit ♥s has nothing to do with looking for employment. i just wanted to share. the one on the left has dead eyes (x_X) & looks a little rough because i don't know how to mattress stitch yet. the right heart was knit in the round.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
i am baffled.
you are flaky. you are passive-aggressive. you are all talk & no action. you are smarmy. you get defensive. you like to pity yourself. & after initial contact, you're no fun at all.
the last conversation we had, i put you off after going off on your pathetic ass. we haven't had a conversation in over 6 months.
so why do you call & text to hang out as though everything is okay?
it's varigated white, bright cobalt blue, & sienna brown (think thai iced coffee). see how it pools in the scarf he's made?
i want to move to brooklyn just to be friends with him.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
i also ♥ katamari damacy. although the concept is simple enough, i am not so good at it -which sucks when the person you're playing with is getting 2-3x the needed growth of the katamari.
i'm anxious to try wii fit & play warioware: smooth moves while slightly inebriated.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
i'm hoping the next time i try this, it will be at one of those really tacky courses with animated obstacles & brightly flashing lights.
side note: while watching air force one, i was pondering on the presidential election...i wish we had (or there was a candidate) as bad-ass as the president portrayed by Harrison Ford. don't you want a leader who can pack a punch, fly an aircraft, & gets to the point ("get off my plane!")?
or, i'd more than happily settle for an upstanding man like president David Palmer, care of Jack Bauer.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
after the new york times printed commentary/recipes/archived articles on the humble cookie back in july, there were several weeks of debate on the best chocolate chip cookie recipe all over the food blogosphere.
at the time, i thought about joining in & testing batch after batch to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. melted butter vs creamed. 12, 24, 36, or 0 hour chill in the fridge? chewy, crispy, soft....oh, the variations!
but it sounded like too much effort. & who would eat all those cookies? so, i decided to let everyone else do the work & i've been keeping tips aside for when i actually needed to make them.
from my research on others' bake tests, the jacque torres' chocolate chip cookie recipe (posted in the NY times) is a bit too sweet & too much waiting for results that are, essentially, equal to waiting 1/2 or less that time.
i've always baked the standard, almost instantly gratifying, mix-drop-voila version. since i needed to bake 2 batches anyway, i decided to try two variations:
1. melted butter & a chill in the fridge. (for a crisper cookie)
2. standard creaming method & straight into the oven (for a softer cookie).
result: although a bit more work & time, i think i'm going to do the melt & chill from now on. it produced a delicately crisp outside while maintaining a soft chewy inside (these are pictured above). the creaming method was delicious, but came out with a denser crumb...almost like cake, wich my mother preferred.
Monday, September 1, 2008
there's nothing better than lazily waking up & getting together with a group of friends for brunch at home or a local spot to sip on some coffee & delight in fluffy eggs or cinnamon-y french toast.
although i have a few favorite breakfast nooks, none compares to Pamela's on walnut street in pittsburgh, pa. (i specify this shadyside location because i've been to the other locations in pittsburgh & they don't compare).
out of standard breakfast fare, pancakes aren't usually my first pick; however, my mouth waters at the mere thought of hotcakes served here. a little heartier than a crepe, these babies have a crisp edge which compliment wonderfully with the rest of the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth center.
if you're not a pancake person or don't mind carbo-loading it & hitting the ultimate food coma, order a side of the home fries. they are perfect. that is all i have to say about them.
although this place serves straightforward classics, they are done incredibly well....so if you're looking for something fancier/updated/different it's best to head elsewhere.