Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CIA Culinary Arts Boot Camp, day 2

CIA campus in St. Helena, CA, Greystone, is located on a North-facing slope overlooking the valley and the highway, surrounded by gardens and vineyards, so it's extremely difficult to photograph. It was built as a huge coop winery, the biggest in the world, and it still has a winery character, with it's cellars, wine barrels, and, (did I mention it?) a collection of corkscrews that takes an entire wall in the enormous entrance hall.
Today's class was about poaching, steaming, and overview of French cuisine.
Yes, all in one day.

Here the chef instructor Victor Scorgle does the demo on cutting up the poached chicken, all the while complaining that he doesn't want to be the only one who always does the carving. Next he handed me the knife, and I shreded the second chicken into little pitiful rugs.

On the menu:

Leeks in vinaigrette

Seafood poached in saffron broth


Braised celery hearts

Braised green beans and tomatoes

Braised greens

Braised fennel

Meanwhile, upstairs, the two-year program students were preparing a colorful Latin American meal (roasted duck with pumpkin seed sauce and escabeche were both beyond praise), and the pastry students got ready to pass the desserts.

We all love this part of the class, because the desserts are perfectly executed and presented with taste and imagination.

And we get to share them among our group and with other students, which creates a fun family atmosphere.

And we hate it, because even if you try a tiny little bit of each, you cannot try them all.

And in the end, we have to toss some of these, barely sampled, jewel-like creations, and it doesn't feel right.

And we have to somehow walk downstairs after this, and practice cutting potatoes and tomatoes for compost (that's called knife skills).

Today the pastry students, besides the desserts and decorated cakes, also made a display of sugar caramel sculptures.

I remember how much fun we had as teenagers when we would get together after school and play with burnt sugar, twisting it into amazing abstract shapes. This is the teenager's fun elevated to a fine art. Beautiful and useless.

Today I started thinking about taking this pastry class.

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