Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Nate Update: Classic Pastry Arts: Week Three

I'm an evening student in the Classic Pastry Arts program here at FCI. Food and writing are two of my passions in life, and I'm excited to bring you The Nate Update, snapshots from my life in and out of class.

Lemon tarts are one of my all-time favorite desserts in the world. I like them best when they come loaded with a big, puckery punch of lemon curd and not too much sugar to dampen the zing. As luck would have it, this week we made the zippiest and most potent lemon tartlets I’ve ever had, and they were divine! We finished the tartlets with piped meringue in seashell patterns that I’m still getting the hang of piping correctly, and then fired them with pastry torches. I felt my tartlets looked a little too much like the ones I see spinning around in the rotating dessert display at the diner next to my apartment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

This week we also made an onion tart laced with tomato and Roquefort that was so good it didn’t last 15 minutes at my house and was ravenously devoured by visiting friends. And it was so easy to make that I’ll be adding it into the mix of things I regularly bake around the house. Little jam-filled spritz cookies (pictured at right), French nut tarts and blueberry clafoutis were also on the class baking schedule, making me officially overloaded with treats and the most popular guy amongst my friends since starting school. I’ve already developed delivery routes of eager friends’ abodes where I can chuck the goodies on my way home so that I don’t end up eating them all myself.

It wasn’t all baking this week, as things started out with one final sanitation lecture by Chef Tim that served as a review of all the germs we could possibly pass onto the general public if proper food storage and preparation procedures aren’t followed. This lead to our first big test the following class, which we won’t know the results of for a couple of weeks, unfortunately. While I’m comfortable that I passed the exam (fingers crossed), the 90-question multiple choice test was a real wakeup call that reminded me how very, very long it had been since I’ve been tested on, well, anything. I kind of shudder to admit that my last real exam might have been 15 or more years ago, and that perhaps my attention span can no longer stretch much beyond the 140-character limitations that Twitter has since clawed into my brain. How else to explain that all the little bubbles in the number two pencil-driven test all started to look the same by around question 10 and I had the odd urge to toss the booklet of questions aside and fill in pretty patterns on the scan sheet instead? I didn’t, of course, and I’m sure I passed. I think. (I’ll keep you posted.)

No comments: