Last Thursday a group of my good friends from school and I went to the spring-themed, multi-course, dinner extravaganza at school, cooked by the superior students. We don't often see the superior students at school, I imagine they spend most of their time locked away experimenting with exotic and expensive ingredients like lobster and foie gras. On Thursday they proved that they actually do exist.....and spectacularly so. However I'm going to leave you in suspense and come back to this at the very end. Sorry!
I went out on Saturday night to the apartment of one of my good friends from school, a girl from China who INSISTED I had never eaten 'proper' Chinese food. She was right. She cooked a number of dishes for us including: an incredibly good pork rib dish, so tender and rich in flavour, her own twist on 'sweet and sour' with a prawn dish, and a chicken dish which I can't describe but was a revelation, and served everything with a mountain of fried rice which I think she's probably still eating. It was a great night with food to match.....and this is concerning for me as it is now my turn to cook a selection of Kiwi dishes for everyone. I'm honestly having trouble thinking of anything as impressive as what we've eaten previously that I can cook for everyone, so those of you back home have any ideas for me please let me know!
Yesterday we spent a few hours cooking thousands of eggs and I can now gladly say I can competently cook an omelette, joy of joys! We also cooked eggs Florentine among other things, but that all pales in comparison to the mastery of the perpetually troublesome omelette.
We also cooked some monster pork chops:
Sage-marinated Pork Chop with Honey Mustard Jus, Puree Potato and Sage Chiffonade
Tasted great, no complaints from Chef, so a definite success.
Today we made a soup or two:
Potage Julienne d'Arblay (left) , Veloute Agnes Sorel (right)
In English: a potato and leek soup with julienned vege and a chicken and mushroom veloute
And now the Superior dinner and some interesting food, not to mention decent photography.
Firstly I'd like to thank Jina, a friend and classmate of mine who knows her way around a camera and took the amazing photos of the food.
It was a night of firsts for me. Mere minutes after arriving my life was changed forever when I picked up what looked like a small deep fried fish ball with a prawn on a skewer and without giving it a passing thought, ate it. Oh my God. Whatever was inside it was incredibly rich and beautifully textured, I thought it may have been some type of cheese, but it was different. Completely foreign to me. One of my friends must have noticed me looking puzzled when they asked me what was wrong, "nothing, what on earth was that?!". "Oh that? That was the crispy Foie Gras". It was good, life-changingly good.
The second first was trying rhubarb for the first time as far as I can remember, the rhubarb course was also the catalyst for my second (and thankfully last) faux-pas of the night, you'll find about those soon.
Le Printemps (Spring)
Iced Pea & Mint Cappucinno
Seared Tuna with Pickled Cucumber & Confit Cherry Tomato
Oyster Ceviche with Chilli, Lime and Cold Gin Dressing
Stunning, I absolutely love oysters and this one was a little beauty, I only wish he came with around five more of his friends.
Asparagus, Poached Quail Eggs & Pancetta with Tarragon Vinaigrette
Quails eggs were new for me, they were very delicate and perfectly cooked, oozing onto the plate when broken.
Stuffed Loin of Lamb with Yuca Frites, Shredded Lamb Shank on Sweet Plantain Puree
This was lamb how I've never seen it done. The sweet plantain puree was the underdog here, it seems an odd combination with lamb but it worked. Emphatically. The Yuca Frites were like deep fried chips only two hundred times better.
Bosworth Ash Goat, Bleu d'Auvergne, Unknown Brie
This dish really hammered home the skill of the Chefs involved for me. I was expecting three different naked cheeses on a plate. What they delivered was three different cheeses with three different garnishes which individually enhanced each cheese but also help tie each one in with the others. The blue cheese had a sweet balsamiccy type reduction drizzled on it and a walnut, the pungent goats cheese had a mysterious sweet fruit accompaniment and the brie, a simple red grape. The different garnishes brought varying levels of sweetness appropriate to each cheese and tied it all together into a great plate.
This course was also the catalyst for faux-pas number one. I ended up sitting at the end of of the table with some girls doing superior patisserie including Claire (another Cordon Bleu blogger whose blog I linked in my very first blog post). Now I will be the first to admit my eyesight isn't the best in the world and this proved to be my downfall. The lights were dimmed and when my cheese plate arrived what was actually a cube of brie with two halves of grape beside it, looked to me like some sort of blurry zebra striped cheese. "What is this?" I remarked. One of the girls picked up a half of grape....."it's a grape". It was immensely embarrassing, I had an opportunity to prove not all of us doing basic cuisine are complete newbies and I blew it mistaking a grape!
Vanilla Cheesecake on Chocolate Sable with Rhubarb Glaze accompanied by Sorbet
I'm not much of a sweet tooth but I really enjoyed this dessert, in particular the mysterious sorbet with the flavour I couldn't figure out. To me it tasted passionfruity, but not really, maybe a blend of berries and passionfruit? I asked one of the patisserie girls and she looked at me incredulously,
"It's rhubarb flavoured".
"Oh that makes sense, I've never tried rhubarb before"
"You've never eaten rhubarb!?!"
Cue embarrassment and faux-pas number two.
Chocolate Coffee Cup
And finally Jina (the excellent photgrapher) and I.
A great night, and amazing food to boot. To see what the Chefs produced has been inspiring and reaffirmed for me my choice to come Le Cordon Bleu. Excited for the future!