Saturday, March 31, 2007

frog hollow

So I have to get up at 4:20 a.m. to get to work Friday and Saturday. Which does not make for a good social life, unless naps are involved, and for the last two days I've taken overly long naps and hence gotten 3 sad hours of sleep. Sigh. I'll get more accustomed to things soon. Work was fairly chill, though. Just a lot of hustle in the morning to bake off pastries and tarts and then just waiting for things to sell and baking off more pastries. By myself it'll be more challenging but not overwhelming, I think. I hate a squash-spinach empanada. It was yummy.

There's an absolutely gorgeous view of the sun rising over the Bay Bridge. (And then there's the not-yet-five a.m. view of the east bay all dark and twinkling across the orange, swooping bridge). I like looking at bridges. It reminds me of the mid-hudson. If only they did up the Bay Bridge in LED lights that changed color all the time, I'd be really happy.

After work I walked around down by the Embarcadero a bit and found a really cute park-I think there are really cute parks like every three blocks here. It's kind of a requirement. I bought a churros; I was really hungry. It occured to me that I'm now doing the job that was my dream job just a couple of months ago. All I wanted was to move to SF, work with cute little organic baking operations and work in the Ferry Building. The reality of course is different from the dream, but things are better than I expected them to be at this point, three weeks into the great experiment that was either a totally harebrained idea or genius.

Friday, March 30, 2007

first week down

Started at Miette this week. 2 days a week. I knew going into it things were going to be pretty boring. The first rotation is all mise and grunt work. I spent my first day doing just that--scooping peanut butter cookies, mashing them with a fork and sprinking tem with sugar. in the end the cookies were harder than i would have liked--not very suishy or soft, but the taste was good and they're cute. after that i spent 3 hours zesting one crate of lemons. is that a long time or not? probably, but it was a lot of lemons and i was stuck in the back room trying not to let my hands cramp up or freeze. All of the miette workers are cutesy little straight girls, some with culinary training, some without...there are only a couple men. After the lemons, i went home to sit on my porch and have some lunch, and in the afternoon it was macaroon assembly time. i got to pipe the filling, and then smush them together. $1.50 for a little cookie! well, it's in line with the ferry building prices. can't afford them, but can snack for free on the misshapen ones.

Wednesday was better. I worked with the head baker who also lives in fruitvale. her husband's in iraq. she'd only ever worked alone and hadn't ever trained anyone, so she kept getting confused because we were chatting a little. but only a very little and i think she liked me. she made the batter, then i scooped and poured chocolate bunny cakes, chocolate cakes, gingerbread cakes and hundreds of cupcakes. the oven there is insane. it makes me really happy. it's maybe 7 feet by 10 feet, and it's got a giant crank that rotates maybe 4 shelves through the oven. you crank open a little door and feed things into it. i guess i'm doing something right if i get overly excited by the biggest oven and the largest hobart mixer i've ever seen and hope to use the dough sheeter soon. all we did was bake, cool, and wrap things. apparently all the finishing work is done by another station. working in stations, it must be weird. or what i mean more properly is it's got to be harder to have a relationship to the finished product. if all you're doing is icing, or baking, wrapping.

This weekend i'm working the baking for frog hollow, so i've got to get to the ferry building by 5 AM. at least for now. thursday i'm meeting with becky my new boss at the farm to talk about new menu items and whatnot. i'm looking forward to seeing the farm. strawberries and rhubard have started coming up in the pastries. i'm going to try one tomorrow. today i had a blackberry tarlette--too many seeds in the berries, but then that's what a berry is, right?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Custards and Doughs

I'm having the ice cream maker and the Kitchen aid sent out here. Can't live without them. Should have brought them, originally, but I guess at the time I wasn't willing to make the commitment even though they really don't take up a lot of room in the car. I'm planning what to make, when I get them:

the oleana strawberry lavender tart, with Maura's favorite dough
Claudia Fleming's grapefruit rosemary sorbet
mint ice cream with thin mints
some kind of bavarian-again, per Maura, and to give it a second chance
Fran Bigelow's chocolate dough and chocolate sable, and Maura's chocolate dough...but what to fill them with? Not a big fan of ganache tarts. There's a baked chocolate tart in Fran's book. I could play with a chocolate brulee tart. Choco-pecan pie is always great. Really it's about expanding my repertoire of doughs. Delphin's pate sucree, yeah it's wonderful. But sometimes other dessert crusts are necessary.

Also, do more with custards and puddings. I think puddings and custards are about all I can make until the kitchen aid gets here--no cakes, no cookies, no ice creams, no choux. So, yes, make some chocolate pot de cremes...flavored how, with booze? choco-rum? maybe...sure, why not. Choco-amaretto? Choco-ginger? Choco-lemon, with candied lemon strips? Custard, it's easy enough, yes. But I think I need to make some slamming custards, flans, p.d.c.

My miette internship begins tomorrow. I think I'll actually feel better about things being back in the kitchen. I think there's some book Maura was recommending about flavor to dig through my notes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Staged tonight at bacar, in SOMA. apparently the old chef left there, new chef (from Jardiniere) been in place 8 days. the pastry chef there is leaving in 2ish weeks, getting married, going on honeymoon. i got a little more info from her and she says the ex-chef is her mentor and she doesn't want to work there without him, etc. which i understand. i'm jealous of that also--wish i had a mentor. but at least i have a new city to explore.

Plating was easy-we did maybe five or six desserts. I would need to do more quenelles. But that's the only the she didn't like about me, and that's easy enough to practice a lot. I liked the presentation a lot. It's funny; when I was staging at Range I was talking to the assistant about how I didn't like my boss's they just didn't make sense to me. And he was talking to me about it, trying to figure out was it a rustic versus polished thing or what? Not so much per se-because Range's things were a lot more rustic than bacar's and I was fine with the polished restaurant-ness of it. But more the aesthetic of design, the way the white space is left on the plate.

I asked the chef if she had a favorite dessert on the menu. Not really, she said. Mostly she was just sick of her stuff, she said. As if everyone has an aesthetic or a flavor profile. She said she didn't wanna do restaurant stuff any more. She just wanted to go work in a bakery.

Almost been here two weeks. I wonder when it'll stop feeling so new. I'm learning my way around the town though and around Oakland and I've started giving people advice/directions when they ask. I figure if I talk California I might as well fake it, you know?

Monday, March 12, 2007

long time, no posts

So i staged at Oleana for a while and arranged myself a sweet little internship in California, and up and moved to Oakland just last week. Here I am. San Francisco seems to be quite fond of me.

Friday interviewed with bi-rite, a mostly organic ice cream shop/baked goods maker, today trailed at bi-rite, they seem pretty into hiring me 4 days a week.

Saturday worked at the Ferry building farm market for frog hollow, they also are very interested in having me make their baked goods prettier and I should be gonig back next weekend.

And then there's Range, one of the bay area's top 100 restaurants, where i'm staging tomorow night for a part time plater position.

And then there's catering companies calling from all over wanting part time servers, so I should be good to go cash-wise, which is important. Now if only the BART didn't shut down so early, or if only I'd moved to SF proper. Time for that, i guess.

I intended to go to Citizen cake today, but thhey're closed on Mondays, I guess. I'll be back tomorrow for my stage with Range...and y'know, their dessert menu i like but their dinner menu seems just fairly average, what everybody's doing. Not quite rising above the standard...whereas their dessert menu is at least interesting even if it DOES pair two of its fruit-based desserts, both tart fruits, with creme fraiche ice cream. On a menu of 6 choices why use the same flavor in two places? It seems lazy...maybe they have a tiny-ass kitchen and can only keep 1 quart of ice cream at a time? Though they've got caramel-coriander on the menu also.

Cause, really, a yogurt sorbet would be much better with the rhubard tart. it doesn't even have to be labne yogurt. MMh, yogurt sorbet. I have sad supermarket iced cream in my freezer, Albertson's pistachio. And the damn thing has almonds in it, not pistachios. I bet normal people do not notice these things.

curse of the trade. looking forward to range.