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Pans and Perspective

You provide the food and I will provide the perspective." – Anton Ego, 2007

Month

January 2016

Will post at breakfast.

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Revisiting Lobster Thermidor

No setup on raw bar because my partner did it for me.  I had to go grab some oysters and restock the station but that didn’t take long.
Afterwards I sliced smoked salmon for afternoon tea.  I did about 8 sides and it didn’t seem that time consuming.  Next on my list was egg mayo.  One of the pantry people requested it but I also made some for Lord Mary’s Lounge.  I took my break right after.

When I returned service was just picking up.  My partner showed me how to make thermidor sauce.  As I mentioned it is a simple cream sauce.  You sweat out minced shallots in whole butter.  Once translucent you whisk in some dijon mustard.  I made the mistake of using whole grain the first time so I had to redo it.  Then you deglaze with brandy and flame it. This vaporizes the alchohol and helps infuse the brandy flavor.  You add in your cream and bring it to a boil. Let it reduce by 1/3 and then whisk in some parmesan cheese.  When serving the sauce make sure to finish it with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of gruyere.

We actually sold an entree portion of lobster thermidor during service and it was beautiful.  It is a classic french dish that is super rich and flavorful.  When I tasted the full dish, hollandaise and all I was astounded.  When I commented my partner said

You can’t go wrong with classics, unless you don$t cook them right.

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Oyster city

After setting up raw bar I got pegged with an order of one dozen.  My partner cracked them for me though so I could finish setup.  I jumped on crab cocktail prep which is a light crab salad bound with creme fraiche and lemon juice.  Its balanced with chive and chili giving it a complex flavor.  I thn proceeded to make some tomato concasse for the station.  I had cut the petals two days ago so this only took me a few minutes.  Next I diced about 30 shallots, mostly for shallot vinegar.  We had an estimated count of 300 over the next few days on reservation for afternoon tea.  This meant slicing cherry tomatoes was a must.  12 boxes later I took my break.

When I returned I had several orders of oysters.  Most were naked but I got an order of Guinness, Rockefellar as well as Shelbourne.  The Oyster Shelbourne consists of crab and lobster meat heated in a Thermador sauce.  It is a cream based sauce that will be demonstrated tommorow.  Once heated the sauce is poured over the oysters, then topped with a chive hollandaise and gratained.  It results in a super rich seafood chowder underneath a crispy skin.  It was delicious.  Service was busy for all of us tonight and I spent the majority of my time on the station popping oysters.  I will be getting a review tomorrow for my performance  these past several days.  This week I will be moving to fish station and appetizers so I’m pretty excited.

Another day off.  Awoke at half 10.  Relaxed for a few hours then went off to pick up some shelves for my barren hostel dorm.  Assembled them and then went out for lunch.  I perusesd a local candy shoppe right near my lodging. Then i returned and took a nap for a few hours.  After waking again I walked to the store to pick up a few litres of water.  Been in bed since then.

Boring day.  Work tomorrow, stay tuned.

I took a few more snaps today:

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Day off

I woke up around half 11 which felt amazing.  I contacted some relatives that live here in Ireland but got no response.  I took a walk to St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre to see if i could find a cheap trash bin.  No luck.  I took my normal route home down Grafton St and stopped for a quick Americano in a small cafe located on Grafton and Lemon St.  It was alright but hardly worth the 2.80 I had to pay for it.  I’m sure the other menu items are good but I would not reccomend it for a coffee.  While sipping and writing I noticed a group of four students sit down with a homeless man across the street.  They gave him coffee, sandwiches and a couple of cigarettes all while they enjoyed each others company.

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I exited the shop and walked towards my hostel.  Along the way I noticed a man sand carving.  It was pretty good so I tipped him the change from my coffee.  I made it back to my room around 1400 and have been sitting in bed since.  I might grab a drink later depending on the temperature and my own motivation.  I still haven’t sampled an Irish Guinness (a mortal sin here).  As always, will advise.  Cheers.

Some other snaps from the day.
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My hostel

Same time, same place. I did oyster bar set up.  It was followed by our daily briefing where we always discuss the BEOs and expected guest count for the day.  Our breifing also includes a short training session where the chef gives us basic audatory instructions on daily tasks.  This session was on smoking salmon. 

The hotel orders between 3000-5000 sides of salmon on an annual basis.  They do this during the peak of the season which starts in May.  They cure it and smoke it in house and the resulting product costs them about 9.95 euro per kilogram. Compare that to the 21 euro per kilo of prepared smoked salmon that they would have to purchase if they didn’t and the difference is upwards of 30 to 50 grand yearly.  Once cured and smoked the salmon is skinned, cleaned by removing the bloodline and then prepared for various capacities within the hotel.

After briefing I made some of the ham mix for afternoon tea.  I helped with service while also making a half batch of egg mayo.  When things died down I placed my section order for the day and then made 30 tomatoes worth of concasse.  When the executive sous saw the method I was using he expressed displeasure.  He told me he wanted it done the proper way.  Normally the tomatoes are par boiled until the skins blister then shocked in cold water to prevent further cooking.  Afterwards they are broken down in a similar manner as mentioned before in one of my previous entries.  This took me quite sometime using the other method and honestly it isn’t efficient at all.  I took my break just after.

When I returned Banquets requested 24 on the half shell for half five (17.30).  I promptly did them and was hit with another order of the same quantity.  This order had some specific requests.  One of which I was unfamiliar.  The guests simply wanted the oysters popped and nothing more.  Normally, to my disdain, we rinse them in cold water to remove any shells or sediment.  This removes all of the liquor that provides the sense of terrior to the oyster. These guests were osyter connosueirs. They requested that the abductor mussel be left attached.  From my understanding this prevents the unique liquor from clouding within the shell.  I was also informed by one of the guests, who toured oyster shops extensivly in France,  the method which I was taught to open is the best way.  Most consumers pop them at the back or hinge of the shell but the weak point is really one third of the way from the front of the oyster.  By slipping even a steak knife between the two shells even a child can effortlessly pop oysters.  The last parting note was that as the shellfish tempers it actually loses its flavor.

After those two orders I sliced about 150 ciabbata croutons running along the length of the roll to give the appearance of a long thin slice.  Then I helped a commis chef finish some prep work of potato cakes for the next days luncheon.  Finally after I broke down ending my day at 23.00.

Long night.

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I will post tomorrow.  Just figured this picture would be enjoyed.

Long night

I arrived 30 minutes early to set up raw bar by myself.  I was excited to finally be able to work without a shadow.  I was informed the day prior that I was responsible for setting up a taste panel for the front of the house.  This entailed a single order of Guinness oysters.  It is a classic Irish dish, although that probably isn’t a surprise, that is composed of oysters topped with a Guinness sabayon and Guinness bread crumbs.  The resulting dish is cool oysters topped with a golden brown coating that imparts a hoppy and fatty flavor.  After the taste panel, which the AM servers didn’t even bother to hold, I made shallot vinegar or more commonly known as mignonette sauce.  It is a combination of various vinegars and shallots, hence the name.  In this recipe I used a mixture of sherry vinegar and red wine vinegar.   My next task was more tomato concasse although looking back I really didn’t need to make it.  At least im ahead.  Quite a while later banquets came to me with a request of 25 oysters for an upcoming function.  I timed myself just to get an idea of my speed and the result was highly unsavory.  25 oysters took me about 15 minutes, in my defense they are giga oysters.  But just as some perspective it takes the current raw bar chef 40 seconds to pop a half dozen.  Immediately following I conducted another taste panel with the PM staff who were much more welcoming.  I explained the dish to them.

I took my break which I used for an extensive shower in the hotels luxurious showers.  I then returned to service where it was very quiet.  Again they had sent home one of the commis chefs because of the light load.  I sliced some tomatoes and then moved onto making small bouquet  garnis of asparagus and carrots secured with a small leek ribbbo.  They were for banquets and we needed a par of 350.  It took nearly and hour.  I ended my night with raw bar break down.

Slow

Nothing special, raw bar set up with Mary.  After I did some tomato concasse.  Too add to yesterdays post, they pronounce it as concaus.  The prefered method over here is to quarter the tomato and slice out the seeds and ribs from the quarters leaving a distinct flower petal shape.  Then trim the edges to square up the petal and then skin it like a fish.  The traditional method usually par boils the tomatoes so the skin blisters away from the fruit making them easier to peel.  Then it is diced into 1 centimeter pieces.  I was told the reason to use this alternate method  is so that the tomato doesn’t break down as fast.  While I was doing this I worked in pantry and raw bar.  Lunch was actually much busier than dinner service.  We had 70+ reservations compared to 20.  I have a pretty good understanding of the those two stations so far and they have been quite enjoyable.  After tomatoes I chopped some more ice berg lettuce and then completed the egg mayo that I didn’t get to complete yesterday.

Shortly after I was informed that Sunday is cleaning day.  And everyone defered their responsibilities to me.  I cleaned the main walk in as well as several low boy coolers and stations. Fun.  I then took my break and came back to a quiet kitchen.  Most of the staff had been sent home due to the light load.  I peeled about 100 pounds of spuds while helping pantry with service, although they really didn’t need it.  Fortunatly, I ended up opening more oysters today than any other day.  I do enjoy it though because I need the practice to increase my speed.  The night was intended to be early but multiple walk in tables sat near the end hitting the main kitchen and raw bar with about 20 more covers.  After being told to breakdown and leave at 20 hours I managed to walk out of the kitchen at 2230 have an early start tomorrow but it should be busier.

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