On the road to somewhere


Sometimes a life lesson comes along that actually makes sense.The road there may be rocky, even venomous snake infested and constantly raining, but a rainbow (double rainbow??) could be at the end. I don't know if I've found a rainbow or anything remotely that cliche, but I did get a chance to change my attitude. Let me explain. 

On day 1 of my cake assembly and custards class, we were moved 4 times to different kitchens, were not assigned a chef instructor, and were mostly in the wrong course. Not only that, but we were sandwiched with 20 other students beside our class topping off at a hefty 40 person class. We were like sardines. All said and done, classroom sorted out, we end up in a culinary kitchen, not a baking kitchen (different equipment and temperatures) with no hopes of leaving until the completion of this 6 week course. Aside from being thrown in another class, the kitchen was a nightmare. Tables so wobbly they could not be touched, no plugs, no mixers, ovens without windows, and worst of all, an internal temperature of about 85 degrees. "How will my buttercream stand up?" I was wimpering under my breath day after day, huffing and puffing leaving school. It is hot in there. I spent the first 2 weeks flustered over the issue, thinking about my tuition and I could do. Certainly I did not enroll for this cluster.

Convinced to find resolution I sought out the head of the pastry department who is a nationally accredited pastry chef. Even upon arrival, I felt silly in my seemingly whiny complaints, and instead of a verbal wake up call, the chef told me a story of her first experience in a 5 star resort where her work station was a trash can turned upside down with a sheet pan over it. She worked that way for 6 months. Our conversation took a more relaxed turn, and I eased when she told me the classes would get small again, but to remember that work experience is not like a classroom. This is a "duh" moment. However, when I was able to let go of how I thought things "should" be, I was able to relish in my accomplishments in a scorching hot kitchen turning out cakes within an hour. Today during our practical exam, producing whatever cake and buttercream recipe we picked from a hat, there was an awfully excessive amount of complaining from students because the room was 88 degrees. I was able to blow it off and accept the less than favorable, sweat inducing conditions and get an A on my cake. I smiled the whole way home, which I do often, partially because I like smiling, and also because today is the first day I have given thought to being a food stylist. Another note on that later. 

Here are a few cake close ups for your viewing pleasure. 
Carrot cake with a basket weave icing design and marzipan carrots in chocolate sprinkle dirt.

Ever had an Opera torte? Coffee butter cream, espresso simple syrup, ganache...

Black forest torte, full of brandy and kirsch

Almond Pound Cake

Devil's food cake with chocolate Italian buttercream and apricot preserve filling- pictured above too

I have three weeks left in this class and the rest of the time with be spent on custards and mousse. Our final project is to create a signature 3 layer stacked mousse with any 3 flavors except chocolate. I'm planning on spinning the concept of figs and honey into a mousse creation. I have a fatal attraction to fresh figs- even dried figs- send them my way.

...And in the world of music: 
If there was one song I could listen to on repeat right now, it's Architecture in Helsinki's "Contact High" remixed by Clock Opera. Don't bother with the original track- too 80s- and not in a good way. The melody is unassumingly familiar, making you mumble along before you know the words, or simply humming the chorus. It's a song I like to place myself inside because isn't music an escape anyway? I haven't had a real escape in awhile.

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