Tuesday, October 16, 2007
For the first 6-7 weeks in Italy, I had been posted at the antipasto station. The other two students had already rotated through the stations: antipasto, pasta & entrees, and had settled into their particular stations by the time I arrived. It was understood that I would get a go at the other stations when they departed. However, when Corrado left in mid September, it left an open slot in the dessert station. While Genesis and Patrick were still here, whomever wasn't busiest would put out desserts. Now that they have gone, there has been a significant shift. Initially Daniele had moved to desserts preparing chocolate torts and such for service while I handled antipasto by myself. We each have a day and a half off per week and with Patrick and Genesis gone, that meant there was only a staff of four on a daily basis - except on Saturdays and sometimes Sunday mornings when everyone was on board. After a couple weeks of Daniele at desserts, I was shifted there. On Tuesdays & Wednesday mornings when Johnny is off, Chef Andrea is at his station - entree. Andrea takes over Francesco's post, pasta station, when he is off on Thursday evenings and all Friday. When Daniele is off, I move back over to antipasto and Andrea is at desserts.
Andrea promises that I will have a chance at every station but I have my doubts. Lunch service is usually busier and not the greatest time to have a newbie. The couple of times that they tried to get me in at dinner service it had been so slow it wasn't much of an experience. I have been very observant as far as what goes on in pasta station and even made a couple orders of risotto one night. I know how to plate just about every dish but have yet to get hands on from start to finish with each dish.first
Desserts has been fun. I had always said that I didn't want to be a pastry chef because I prefer not to be pigeon holed in just sweets. This still holds true, yet there is an undeniable pull towards pastries...you just don't get the same ooh's and ahh's with savoury food as you do with desserts. Dessert station has me making:
Cantuccini - little almond biscotti which we serve with vin santo.
Semifreddo - a terrine of first a layer of chestnut paste, then a mixture of ricotta cheese, Italian meringue, whipped cream and chestnut honey with roasted and candied whole chestnuts buried in the center.
Bavaresi - a pannacotta consisting of a reduction of lemon, orange and grapefruit juices, creme anglaise, gelatin sheets and whipped cream. We also candy the peels of the citrus fruits to serve on top after we unmold them.
Chocolate and pear torts - fresh pears are peeled then cooked in a simple syrup. A chocolate crust is rolled out and fitted into springform pans then prebaked. Home-made pomegranate jelly is spread over the crust then pear halves are laid in. The tort batter is poured in and all is baked into chocolaty goodness.
Vanilla and Chocolate gelato as well was the candied orange that is served alongside it.
Nut bread - chock full of hazelnuts, pinenuts, almonds, and raisens which is served on the cheese platter.
Today I was tasked with shelling a 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) bag of pistachios. I'm only 1/2 way through and already know the pain will rival any Nintendo thumb I ever got back in the SuperMario days.