Spoiler alert: this Culinary School Update is ridiculously long. Even for my verbose self. Here’s a cupcake for the journey…
This is…an update of sorts. How do I cram everything we have covered in the past 3 weeks into 823 words? Since we last talked we’ve breezed through 18 pies and tarts, 10 recipes with pâte à choux and 15 recipes with pâte feuilletée (puff pastry); we’ve had 3 practical exams; and I have washed more dishes than altogether reasonable.
And I love it. LOVE.
[Not the dishes. I hate washing dishes.]
Culinary school update: it is more intense and physically and emotionally demanding than I could have ever imagined. I was not prepared for this. I’m not sure how I could have prepared for this.
I spend from 8:30 to 2:30 in constant motion; my brain is running on mach 10 to keep track of each an every component, to remain ahead, to not burn anything (including myself) and to learn as much as possible during the chef’s demos. And then school ends and I am somehow wired and exhausted all at the same time.
But I force myself to go to the gym because somebody ate too many pâte à choux and puff pastry. I don’t know who…
And then there is this City. It has leaked into my bones.
That might be the cold. Nevermind.
I LOVE being here. I love the bone-chilling walk to the subway each morning, the rush of people, the energy that emanates from every corner, and the possibilities. It makes me feel that I can work harder, do more, push for better.
So what have I actually been making?
How much time do you have? Or tolerance for looking at sinfully delicious treats that you can’t have?
Tarts and Pies rocked my world. The number and complexity of the fillings and decorations made them more challenging than anything else we’ve made.
My new partner and I worked with surgical precision: organizing and executing the 3-4 pies/tarts that we made each day with the speed and coordination of Le Tour de France. We were a tour de force.
I mean if I do say so myself…
So I thought tarts and pies were my favorite until we got to pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). I cannot resist the flakey buttery goodness that is puff pastry. You fill that with some almond cream or frangipane and I lose all sense of reason.
I haven’t seen my self-control (or waistline) in weeks!
Puff and I…we’re on a first name basis. So in love.
These Sacristans are basically strips of puff pastry rolled up with sugar, chopped almonds and more sugar (what did I tell you yesterday? #sugarallthethings), and they are one of the most addicting sweets that I have ever had.
Like EVER. I ate 10 before we even left class. And then I took one of chef’s (thank you Chef Jürgen!). And then I had to taste test some of my partner’s (Thank you, Chiara!).
Just to be sure. I am here to learn after all!
And this Gâteau Pithivier? Shut the front door. So good. Buttery, flakey Puff wrapped around frangipane, which is almond cream mixed with pastry cream. So sinfully delicious.
But my absolute favorites were the Conversations (top right above). Adorable little Puff tartlettes filled with almond cream, topped with more buttery Puff, and then covered with royal icing. In the oven the royal icing hardens and becomes a sugary sweet crunchy topping that compliments the creamy almond filling and flakey buttery pastry.
This culinary school update is where I can tell you that I have a weakness for almond cream. Can you tell?
And the little Tartes aux Poires en Cages (bottom pictures above). Can you even stand the cuteness?
I have had Tarte Tatin; specifically, I have had Tarte Tatin in Paris.
I hated it. Mushy flavorless apples on a non-descript pastry base. Bleh.
That is not this Tarte Tatin. Nope. The one we made has flambéed caramelized apple halves that are baked under a magical puff pastry crust. And it is mind-blowingly delicious. Caramel, apples, brandy, buttery flakey Puff. You get the picture…
I suppose I shouldn’t skip pâte à choux entirely but I’m kind of Meh on it. There were practically riots in the women’s locker room when I voiced this strangely unpopular opinion, but there, I’ve said it. Meh.
If you like éclairs more than life itself (you know who you are…Chiara), then I apologize, but the dough is flavorless and the combination of creamy cold inside and puffy outside just isn’t my thang.
Oh! Except the filling for the Paris-Brest! Think of it like Nutella on crack. It is creamy and flavorful and I could not stop eating it. I almost piped it straight into my mouth. But I refrained because I’m a lady. Bad Lindsey. Bad!
To top it all off, in this culinary school update, I get to announce that I got to meet Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Isreal. Ben-Isreal is a graduate of the ICC and Jacques Torres is the Pastry Dean. Both AH-mazing.
Are you still with me? I can’t possibly cover everything in one post, so to see what I make each day and just follow along on my adventure, follow me on Instagram.