As promised, the riveting finale of week 1, module 3 at ICE [largely in photos].
We started off with a cold appetizer: raw (semi-ceviche?) slivered sea scallops with mizuna (greens), tobiko (caviar), grapefruit vinaigrette and grapefruit supremes. My take: Light, refreshing and very appropriate for a ninety-degree day. Alone, the raw scallops were pretty bland, but with the salty, pop-in-your-mouth tobiko, a bite balanced out well.
Next up was our first entrée, grilled Poussin, which is a small poultry bird akin to a tiny chicken. This little birdie was a real trickster; so small one would assume he’d cook quickly on the grill, yet after removing from the grill and transferring to the oven, the meat under the wings remained pink for what felt like forever, leading some of us to question whether we were missing something. Chef was calling for our plates, though, so finally it was time to make a judgement call; I deemed the pink streak in this Poussin’s armpit a rogue vein, and took the bird off the heat to rest.
As much as I’d like to pretend I knew exactly what I was doing, I may have just gotten lucky; the bird wound up cooked to perfection, and Chef subsequently asked me if I’d come over to his house and cook for his family. I’m no expert, but coming from a Chef, that sounded like a compliment. Grilled Poussin with Pan Sauce over Pommes Mousseline (a sort of glorified mashed potato soufflé) with Carrots Vichy.
Finally, the fan favorite: Beef Short Ribs. Man, does this dish seem to be getting prime real estate on a lot of menus lately – and I’m pretty sure no one is mad about it, considering how delicious it is. On the restaurant end, it’s a pretty logical choice: braised short ribs can be made way in advance and left to slow-cook, then heated up to order. It’s low maintenance and a crowd pleaser – obvious choice.
In the ICE kitchen, Chef suggested we conduct a little experiment (I’m slowly starting to really like the way his mind works) – braise half the ribs at 275 degrees and the rest at 325 so we could compare the results. Obviously, those cooked at 325 were much further along down the road to falling-off-the-bone tender than those braised at a lower temp, but the two-and-a-half hour cooking time wasn’t really enough for either batch. Still, we plated up the beef atop some creaming polenta with glazed carrots, turnips and rutabaga, and it was completely delicious.
I wasn’t so thrilled with my plating – my approach was much less thought out than I would have liked as the night drew to a close, and I arranged my glazed vegetables on the perimeter of the plate without realizing the short-rib sauce would run and make them soggy. Glaze plus sauce equals everything on the plate look very wet. Not a whole lot of negative space going on here, but lesson learned for next time!
After all this, I’m pretty exhausted. This is the first week where our classes have been so intense that my exhaustion has lasted past Tuesday night; it’s Thursday and I’m still feeling a bit worn down. Trying to take it in stride though, because it’s all just a sign that we’re pushing ourselves – which is exactly what we should be doing in each and every class.
On an unrelated note, I looked up at the calendar today to realize that EpicureanBliss’s one year birthday has passed me by (July 24th, to be exact). Of course, given my fascination with birthdays, I spent a moment thinking about how much life has changed since I wrote that very first post. Over one hundred posts later, a lot has changed – and for the better! It’s been such a wonderful, crazy, exciting year of growing, eating, cooking and writing – so glad to have been able to share it all here.
Looking back, here are some of my favorite posts from over the past year – enjoy!
A Little Corner of West Village Paradise - A review of the Little Owl, a restaurant I loved so much that I wrote about it four months after I ate there. Can’t wait to go back!
We’re in the Business of Dreams – A post about my visit to ICE for a Culinary School orientation. This was the first time my pipe dream of going to Culinary School started to feel real, and set everything in motion for the year to come!
This is it! A Pizza Love Story – I loved writing this review of Kesté, a little restaurant in the West Village serving up Naples-style pizza, so much mainly because I got to relive the wonderful experience I had eating there. Some of the best pizza I’ve ever had – seriously, go here!
It Was Only Just a Dream – Or Was It? - I posted this just hours after I found out my student loan got approved and I was actually going to Culinary School. I was still riding high on that news, but the response I got to this post sent me even higher – tons of friends, old and new, saying they were inspired by this decision to pursue their own dreams!
When an Egg Met a Cupcake Tin - When I cooked up these baked eggs on a snowy weekday morning last winter and rushed to my computer to blog about it, I never imagined it would be such a hit. WordPress must have, though, because they FreshPressed this post and EpBliss wound up getting thousands of hits in one day over it. Thanks to all the readers who have stuck with EpBliss since then :)
The Rush – Granted I posted this just a few days ago, but I loved recapping one of the most exciting culinary experiences I’ve had to date… and if you don’t know what I mean, just click the link to find out!
Happy First Birthday Bliss!