It's Been a While...

Sorry, everyone! I know I haven't updated in almost a week now... This week has been absolutely insane. In terms of school, the subject matter for the rest of the week was pretty boring... all we did were sauces, soups, and stews. However, I do have a new appreciation for the bits of sauce that are put on your plate when you go out to eat.

Just so you know, every drizzle of sauce on your plate at a restaurant probably took somewhere between 2-6 hours to prepare. Depending on how classic the sauce is, it could have 2-3 base stocks or sauces that need to be made to make the final product. The first day of sauces we made only classic french sauces (tweaked to be vegan of course)- Bordelaise, Bechamel, Sauce Espangol, etc. These all came out delicious, but I am not kidding when I say that they took 6 or more hours to prepare. The vegetable stock took upwards of 3 hours, and then the sauces usually had some sort of base sauce that needed to be made first and then added to the final product.... and then lots and lots of simmering... 6 ish hours later, you have a sauce. Wow.

The second day of sauces was more nuevo sauces- thickened by pureeing vegetables, adding tahini, adding cooked grains, etc. as opposed to thickening with a classic roux of butter/oil and flour. These sauces took much less time to prepare (1-2 hours) and were much lighter to eat. I made a yellow pepper coulis (simmered yellow peppers and onions w/ vegetable stock pureed to form a sauce) which was light, sweet, and an amazingly bright color.

By this time, Thursday had rolled around.. I had signed up to do my first Friday Night Dinner Shift in the kitchen. So on Thursday (after class... class gets out at 4:15) at 4:30 I made my way down to the kitchen to do prep work. It was a student dinner, meaning that this was one of the meals that was designed by a team of students as their final project. Also, this particular group was all part time students who only see each other once a week. All of this translated to an incredibly disorganized mess. No one was in charge, no one knew what needed to be done, and prep ended up taking hours longer than most of the other people who had done prep the weeks before me in my class. Wendy from my class, for example, had done FND the week before me and had gotten to go home at 6:30 on the Thursday she worked. I went home at 10:30.

The whole experience pretty much went this way... It was long, really hard, and pretty frustrating. Friday I had soup class from 9:15-1:15, and then I went straight back to prep at 1:30. We got all the food out to rave reviews, and I ended up heading home at about 10:30. Here is what the menu looked like:

Salad: Summer greens dressed in a light avocado lime dressing with beets and fresh figs
Soup: Chilled spilt pea and mint soup with vegan creme fraiche and frizzled leeks
Entree: Grilled summer vegetable stack with cashew cheese and grilled tofu and a spinach basil sauce
Dessert: Apricot baklava dipped in dark chocolate and toasted postachios with pistachio mint chocolate chip ice cream and a pomogranate reduction

The night was filled with challenges, and plating all 150 plates for each course was an interesting and educational experience. At one point, we were lined up, assembly line style, and I was supposed to be squeezing the cashew cheese onto the vegetable stacks.... the top of my pastry bag exploded and a good pound of the "cheese" fell onto my friend Aviva's foot. Because we were mid- plating... we couldn't clean it up. Sooo... I got a new pastry bag, and poor Aviva had to plate for another half hour with a gigantic mound of nut cheese on her shoe. Did I mention that she was wearing crocs and that the "cheese" was seeping in through the holes? Yeah... it was pretty ridiculous.

The good thing about all of this is that I learned some great things to do and not to do at my own Friday Night Dinner.... which is really invaluable. There really needs to be someone in charge giving out tasks and keeping track of what is done, etc. There also needs to be an understanding that the people there to help you need not to be treated like crap... since they are VOLUNTEERS! Finally, as much as possible needs to be settled upon before prep even begins on Thursday... I couldn't believe that their team was designing the plating, etc. 2 seconds before all the plates had to go out! THIS IS YOUR FINAL PROJECT!!!

Anyway, Tyler met me at school after dinner was over. He had taken a bus in. We went out for a beer with two of my friends and one of their husbands. It was nice to unwind for a minute even though I was soooo incredibly tired. Then we headed back to Brooklyn with Aviva in tow (she lives about 2 hours away, so I told her just to sleep on my air mattress for the night since it was so late).

Part of the reason that Tyler was coming this weekend was because I was so excited about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. I had been talking about it for weeks and weeks... All along thinking it was Sunday. So we walked around and looked at 987439583 yard sales yesterday and then met Megan and Steve in the city for a yummy dinner at this place called Zen Palate. It was right near Times Square since we were meeting them after they had gone to see Grease. After dinner we headed to Chinatown because none of us had ever been. I thought it would be fun to look around at all the street food and see the markets, etc. Sadly, the trains were all screwed up and by the time we got there most of it was closed... lame. A fun day, but as we meandered back to Brooklyn, I thought to myself, "Well, at least the parade is tomorrow! That will make up for Chinatown!"

Friends, the parade was Saturday. Utter disappointment. I cannot believe I did that... So now we have no plan for the day. We might still go to Coney Island, maybe we'll go to the zoo in Prospect Park, maybe we'll do something else... who knows. Sad, sad story...

In other news- what the heck should I get Bran for his birthday?! He's coming up next weekend w/ Mom... Oy, too many siblings!!