Monday, August 30, 2010

Bay Area Eats: Alexander's Steakhouse

I've been hearing about Alexander's in Cupertino since they opened a long while back. My brother has always been ranting and raving about this steakhouse with a Japanese twist that claims to be the only restaurant in California that dry ages their own beef on-site for 28 days. But with their steaks starting around $40, I (or rather my budget) have never got around to checking out the place. However, celebrating a couple birthdays gave enough reason to make a reservation. I apologize for the fuzzy pictures; there wasn't much lighting in the restaurant.

The meal started out with an amuse bouche, which the waiter described as meaning "happy mouth". I didn't feel like correcting him, but found it slightly amusing. I forget what it was, but something with cheese. For starters, we ordered the shishito peppers, hamachi shots and seared scallops. I didn't like the peppers too much. They seemed to lack flavor and felt a bit greasy with the flash frying. The hamachi shots were refreshing and light with a nice truffled ponzu sauce. The scallops were perfectly cooked; my only regret was that there weren't more.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last day of work

Though it's almost been a month since I finished work, I haven't shared all the events of my last day at Plaza Athénée. Perhaps I've been repressing the bad memories? Okay well it wasn't all that bad, but maybe I'm just jaded now.

During my six month stage, I witnessed quite a bit of hazing of other staigiares on their last day of work. One girl had raw eggs smashed on her head. The apprentice in the boulangerie had yeast (yes, fresh cake yeast), flour, butter, and egg wash poured all over her. Though my friends from Ferrandi gave me accounts of people being locked in a 'cage', crap dumped over them, and then being hosed down, I didn't really know what to expect.

Though I think I walked away pretty lucky; here's a note to any future stagiaires: do NOT tell them what day you're leaving. Of course this isn't completely avoidable since at least one person (whomever you report to) will know.

My last week started out with a cream puff to the face. Yes one of those lovely mignardises that I painstakingly piped, was smashed in my face by a chef de partie. He's probably the nicest guy I work with and in his words, worse things could/will happen. On my second day, of the last week, I was lucky enough to have chocolate batter (part of our marbled cake) smeared across my face. Well at least it tasted good and I tried to chase the offender down to give him a bisou. The third day we had made some fresh marshmallows and rolled them in sprinkles. They were quite gross and all but two made it into the trash. The other two gooey marshmallows? Smashed into my ears. It took me quite a while to clear my ears of that nasty mess.

On my last day, I tried to avoid any sort of confrontation. I knew that I had to be really careful and watch my back especially nearing the end of the day when we started cleaning. Post-cleaning, no one would try to attack me. While I was washing the sink, out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the chefs de partie (cdp) with a bucket of something. I didn't need to know what that something was, so I ran and got the brush to start scrubbing the floors and evade him. Well lucky for me, another apprentice knew that it was the cdp's birthday and decided to smear some roquefort cheese all over his face/glasses. Yours truly was hiding in the ice cream room. The cdp rounded on the apprentice with the bucket containing cherry juice and splashed him. Trying to protect myself, I was wise enough to also mention to the apprentice that it was another girls birthday that weekend. His present for her?  A bottle of egg yolks over her head.

Of course it was impossible for me to escape scathed-free; I ended up getting the rest of the cherry juice poured over my head and the bucket smashed on my head. As I bleached my chef whites, I couldn't help but think about how much I'm going to miss (and not miss at all) Plaza Athénée. It was definitely a good, character building, back-breaking experience.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bay Area Eats: Mizu Sushi Bar & Grill

As I'm back in California for a couple months, I've been hitting up all the normal restaurants that I've been craving as well as some new places. It's hard to find good sushi in Paris. Well let me rephrase, its hard to find reasonably priced good sushi in Paris. One time I actually ordered a spicy tuna roll, and to my horror it was a soy wrapped roll with canned tuna. Gross.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things from my last week of work

My last week of work, I decided to bring in my camera and start snapping up pictures of the glorious overpriced stuff/crap we make. I figured if anyone wanted to yell at me, I'd be out of there in a week anyways.

Every morning we assemble an array of small cakes, bigger cakes, chocolate mousse, and mignardises. If we're lucky there are only about 200 mignardises to make. On a bad day sometimes 1200.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pate d'amande roses

One of the things I learned back at Ferrandi, which has proved to be very useful is making Pate d'amande roses. Pate d'amande, also known as marzipan or almond paste, is the culinary version of Play-Doh. You can dye it, mold it, roll it and shape it. Though unlike Play-Doh, almond paste actually tastes good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beet chocolate cake

Since I mentioned having tried a recipe for chocolate cake with beets in it to one of the chef-de-partie at work, he hasn't forgotten and has asked me when I'm going to bring it into the lab. I don't remember where the original recipe I found was from, but this time I used this Beet Bundt Cake recipe.