Tonight I attended the first of my pastry skills classes at the Culinary School of the Rockies (my reward for completing my dissertation). It was terrific! I think I probably had the most experience of the students there, but it was still really educational. My partner happened to be the woman who annoyed me the most. She’s the one who talks about herself to anyone who will listen. She wasn’t very skilled, and that was okay… the part that annoyed me was how she was completely undisciplined and had no sense of priorities, time, urgency, or organization. Still, we got along and she seemed to really like me. Perhaps that was a miscalculation on my part – I should have been a total bitch so she won’t partner with me next week. She really needs to get her mise en place In Place.
We worked on candymaking tonight. It’s quite intense. We arrive, get a brief overview lecture from Shan, our instructor and pastry chef, then it’s like they shout “GO!” and we’re off! In 4 hours, we made fondant, caramel, chocolate caramel, orange hazelnut brittle, lollipops, and then some caramelized sugar decorations. I was in my groove – this was my element! Multi-tasking, mise en place, timing the sugar, cooling the fondant… AND I also took tons of pictures. The best part about it all? There were two dishwashers. I mean two people hired by the CSR to WASH DISHES. Our brittle was the only one to turn out properly – everyone else’s seized. Maybe it’s intuition after years of experimenting on my own, and I like to think that part of my success is because I understand much of the science behind it. Either way, it rocks and I love it.
making the fondant
Everyone in class was really great. Lots of fun and interesting people. One really strange thing – I met a nice young woman, Allison, who knows Becca! She’s a geologist at INSTAAR and we started to talk, then she asked if I used to work at that stupid company and I said yes. Then she said, “I think Becca sent me a link to your website to recommend hikes in the area.” How funny!
Oh, and the food… I didn’t know they fed us during class. They had prepared some rather gourmet soup and salad along with a spread of fine cheeses, fruit, coffee, tea, and water – all for us to nosh on during class. Later on, the class next door (it was a corporate class, so a team-building fun thing) brought over their leftover sushi they made. That was so good!
For the decoration, I went a little nuts and dyed my sugar red. But then I didn’t feel so bad because Allison and her partner dyed theirs purple. I had the most fun making spun sugar, which is a little crazy. I didn’t burn myself once – and two people in our class did burn themselves on hot liquid sugar (it is really really hot and it really hurts). What’s worse is that it STICKS to you and continues to burn like hell. Good thing everyone had a bowl of ice water at their stations.
Next week is chocolate. And we have homework each week – to practice the techniques we learned. My neighbors are going to love that.
And last but not least, someone in class told me I look just like Kylie Kwong!