Sunday, May 13, 2007

don't fuck with my mise!

strawberry shortcakes
Originally uploaded by the_jade_greene.
I should be going to sleep soon, but it's really nice to have energy. Especially since I almost fell asleep this evening when I got home from work, and almost burned my teriyaki chicken (rescued just in time to still be tender, mostly, and have REALLY crispy skin). I've been working like a dog since Friday.

I used to not really understand very well the teamwork aspect of professional kitchens, because where I've been the pastry person is always alone and usually taking up someone else's counter or oven space
(insert memories of Sonsie brunches and fighting over the oven for bacon versus focaccia).

During the Saturday market the girls would get low on pastries and forget to ask me to bake more, then come to me as I was cutting fruit for fruit tarts, whipping vanilla cream for shortcakes, etc. and demand seventy pastries be egg washed and baked. I'd do it immediately, push my project to the side, get my table dirty, clean, go back to my mise, be interrupted again, and not be able to bake off the new pastries because there was no oven space. It could all be avoided by proper planning. But please, don't fuck with my mise. It makes for a very long day.

However, it's very nice to be able to pop some shortcake in your mouth in the middle of a long day. I was feeling very frustrated on Saturday that it's my job to make yummy things for other people but not part of my job description to eat them. I was feeling like I needed food=love to get some energy to wash away the frustration, and get back to busting out pastries. It worked very well. It's hard to take a moment to eat or take a real break when you have enough work to keep you occupied. It saddens me that food workers don't get to feed themselves properly, but I go all day without eating too.

Saturday night was a catered wedding at Tilden, with a Masse's wedding cake. Two layers of chocolate raspberry and one of passionfruit. I demanded and got some of each. The passionfruit one was good, better than I was expecting. Better than the Tartine passionfruit coconut cake I got to try today since one of the girls at the cupcakery bought one for us all to try (must be nice to be rich, eh?)Tartine's was all about the overly large shredded coconut on the outside, and not skinning the underside of the cake, which is something that bothers me if you're going to be presenting cakes. Masse's was nicely trimmed. From the texture of the cake I was afraid it was going to be dry, but it wasn't. There was passionfruit bavarian and curd, or curd lightened mousse, or something. The caterer wasn't quite sure. There was also wine and Hennessey's cognac to take home, and quite drunken bridesmaids.

Then up this morning to get to the cupcakery by 8 (tomorrow as well). It was a big production day and I didn't leave the back room at all. Just busted through batches of chocolate and vanilla frosting, chocolate batter, cream cheese frosting. The funny thing about being the new girl is you do things like made a 4x batch of frosting and put it all in the large Hobart and then when your butter's good and creamed and you're adding the sugar (my first experience with American buttercream) the other bakers get around to telling you no one's ever done a batch that large in that mixer before. It's not cockiness when I pull it off and it's fine, and I get to cross it off the production list, and everyone's stoked that we saved some time, but rather a quiet happiness for something done efficiently.

The Sonsie days really are behind me. They've been on my mind lately, possibly because I know that for right now I'm not going to be working in any restaurant kitchens. Lifting large Hobart bowls that I'm not strong enough to maneuver (but trying to do it anyway) recalls the daily battle with the pizza dough, or the vanilla pound cake. It's interesting now that I'm also in a creative position. I'm on a big herbal kick right now. Scented creams, infusions, berries and spice. I get tired of making things week after week and have considered doing away with the strawberry lavender tart (just after it's developed a following, ah!). it's my duty now to think about flavors and components. When making the polenta cake, I found myself thinking of texture/crunch/creamy/sweet, which was a nice step from "I miss that semolina cake, maybe I'll make one with blackberries since we have them on hand." But there's still so much more I need to understand.

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