Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Calm Before the Storm
Why I'm in such a dither over Banquet class is a mystery...at least this beginning part of Banquet. It almost borders on being a snoozefest, because we're mostly doing lecture. After that first disasterous day with the chicken practical, we've pretty much stayed out of the kitchen except to pull some stock and make sandwiches for the USO room at the airport.
According to the class calendar, we have about 1 more week before things start heating up. Then, we start working on our prep for dining room service...yep, we're the class that has to put forth food for the dining room class' service experience. We've got 3 menus that we're working from, and we've been divided up into 3 teams to do the requisite paperwork for the menus--descriptions, recipes, work timelines, requisitions, etc. Chef Banquet so kindly asked me and the Chiclet to extoll on our experience from last quarter about not having a complete requisition...thanks, Chef!
Anyway, our team's menu is the most complicated, technique-wise, because it comes last...I think the theory is that we should be building up to it, skill-wise, but not nearly as complicated as the menu that the class did during the quarter I was in dining room. We're having a cream of wild mushroom soup, a marinated Greek salad (basically a salad with Greek olives, Feta cheese, and oregano in the viniagrette), a choice of Turkey Oklahoma or Grilled Swordfish with Tomato-Basil Coulis, grilled polenta cakes, sauteed spinach with Proscuitto and Parmesan, and Strawberries Romanov for dessert.
I'm kind of excited about the spinach...it feels like it's been years since I've had any fresh spinach, and you know how it is when you can't have something--you want it all the more.
The Turkey Oklahoma is interesting...it was actually an award-winning recipe for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Culinary Team. (I ask you--did you know that there was such a thing as an Olympic Culinary Team? Don't feel like the Lone Ranger on that one, because I had no clue, either.) Essentially, it's a rolled turkey meatloaf...sounds appetizing, doesn't it? In chef-speak, we call that a ballotine, which will be stuffed with ham and mushrooms, roasted, sliced, and served with a white wine and shallot sauce. It's all in the marketing, baby!
The Culinary Olympics are held in Germany, from what I can Google, and the next go 'round is in 2008. The U.S. Team won the hot foods category in 2004, but I think the Swiss took home the overall gold. The chefs at school are always preaching about doing culinary competitions, and how we should all sign up for them, because it will help us with our own skills...not about winning or losing, blah, blah, blah, et cetera, et cetera. Although, our program has done really well in a national community college competition, consistently bringing home some medals for the last 2-3 years. I think I need to get way more comfortable in the class kitchen before I attempt anything like a food competition. It's all about the comfort zone, because I never seem to have the problems at home that I do in the class kitchen. Must work on the self-confidence angle!
And, get more of it before I have to truss up a turkey meatloaf!