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Back in the Saddle, Again.

After three luxurious weeks of vacation, I am back at school.  It really isn’t a great excuse as to why I haven’t posted (seeing as how I had the whole day to do nothing), but it’s the only excuse I’ve got!

This week, we finally started our Skills Development classes and I couldn’t be happier.  No more hunks of meat or fish guts flying around.  We get to dig in and work on knife skills (yes, the Chef’s bust out the ruler on our small dice) and learn all about the wonderful world of stocks and broths.  There is a difference, in case you were wondering.

On Friday, I am going to make my Tapas recipe for the  trip to Spain…not sure if i posted that I am a finalist, but I am.  I am up against 6 other CIA students and they will pick two for the Spanish Tapas peeps to decide between.  I will be glad to get it over with.  For some reason I have been psyching myself up about the whole thing, needlessly, of course.  The trip is in September, so I should know if I need to pack my bags soon!

I spent two weeks in South Carolina hanging with my Dad and taking him to Chemo appointments.  I brought my tools (geek) and made some great meals to help fatten him up.  Not a fan of the slooooow lifestyle in the South, but they have some damn good food.  I don’t know how anyone dares to wear a bathing suit with all the fried, porky, goodness around.  And all the grits…you get the picture.

I totally blew it on Fish Fabrication posts, but I will tell a visual story with a photo montage soon.  Oh, and the birds are gone!!!!

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Anthony Bourdain was right…

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Being around meat all day makes people CRAZY!  It was like Open Mike Night during sausage day…

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I Have the Luckiest Car in the County.

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This placard should read:  The return of the swallows is an annual annoyance to all car owners here at Greystone.  The birds will go to the bathroom on your car no matter what corner of the parking lot you try to hide.  Sometime in July, I will rejoice when the birds leave to join their loose boweled friends.  Greystone will pay for the weekly car washes necessary to avoid being embarrassed by driving around in a bombed out car.

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Last Night, I Dreamt About Meat.

IMG_0043So, we are almost done with our Meat Fabrication(Meat Fab) class…2 more days. We have massacred everything from chicken to veal and swine. Tomorrow we hit up lamb,and Tuesday, Charcuterie(yum) and then on to Seafood Fab. Butchering meat is like solving a puzzle, trying to follow fat trails to unearth a tenderloin, or possibly some ribs. During veal day it was really quiet, and I heard one of my classmates yelling at his meat, “Where the f@#! am I?” I know what he means. One minute you’re knifing out a tenderloin, and then you follow a fat trail too far, and you end up around a picnic shoulder…or something…I need to study some more.

IMG_0045My arms are sore in places I am not familiar with, and I have a newfound respect for pro butchers…and I think that’s kind of the point. Our Chef instructor is from Texas, and the irony is definitely not lost on me. Part of our homework is to watch various videos housed on the CIA Intralearn web portal, and he had ants in his pants the next morning waiting to ask us if we watched the one where the farmer blows the head off a baby cow with a pistol. It’s a PETA horror flick. Chef Tucker loved it.

Aside from finding a niche of Baby cow snuff films, I also learned that pigs are super smart animals…and very emotional. If they get stressed out, they get something called “Boar Taint” and their meat becomes inedible. We have been playing a game with food phrases and turning them into band names. I am in “The Nightshades” (look it up) and my friend Jason came up behind me last week and said in my ear, “My band’s name is Boar Taint.” Sounds like the kind of band that might play on the Strip. IMG_0046He’s the one that likes to swear at meat. Oh, and that’s ALSO him sawing the leg of veal with Jay…the one holding the towels with a super intense stare. Who can blame him? Lack of sleep+too much meat+WAY too much coffee= grown people acting crazy. See you next week in the ocean!

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Tapas…not topless(Larry).

It’s the end of another extremely short weekend and from now on I have to be at school at 6:30 a.m.  That means alot of early mornings, and no more horseplay at Anna’s, drinking beers and singing karaoke (I just judge others, I don’t wish my Whitney Houston on anyone).  The reason for this pre-dawn nonsense is that from now on we are going to be in the kitchen.  I am really excited…I was growing tired of staring at a dry erase board all day long.

My Little Show Pony So, here’s the tapas that I have been thinking about preparing for the last 3 weeks for a competition at school.  I finally put the dish together on Friday for my husband.  He was not psyched about eating two shrimp for dinner, but he WILL be happy if I win the thing.  The winner gets to go to Spain…all expense paid…to represent the CIA in a tapas extravaganza.  I have not sized up any of the comeptition, but when I nosed around our campus, no one was even aware that it exsisted.  Hopefully the Hyde Park Trustafarians are too busy killing brain cells in the City to notice.  Crossies.

It’s been a busy week of celebrity chef sighting (if you count Stefan and Blaze) at good ol’ CIA Greystone. The Valley’s prodigal son Thomas Keller graced the gift shop with his presence , signing his heavy and expensive cookbooks and just being generally fabulous.  I had one of his blueberry-cream cheese filled jammers  at Bouchon last Sunday and I’ll have to say it was dee-li-cious.  That man can certainly sell a $3 donut without a smidgen of same.  Well played, Keller, well played

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Top Chef in the Hizz…

OHHH...AHHH

OHHH...AHHH

So, last week we had a demo courtesy of the California Almond board. I guess I have never really given much thought to the fact that some people love almonds so much, that they champion them for a living. At least I think that’s what happens. Most of them looked pretty pleased with their job, and they were all so nattily dressed…the nut business must be booming. They are pretty filling.

Anyways, there was a panel of really talented chefs who made dishes of varying interest; both sweet and savory. I am sorry to report that most of the cooking took a back burner (pun intended) to the antics of Top Chef alumni

Stefan screwing up his lines

Stefan screwing up his lines

Stefan Richter. He certainly proved that some people are exactly how they portray themselves on television. A gal couldn’t get a drink of water in the TK without him creeping up behind you. He made the lamest Trout Almondine ever and pretty much challenged all of us to ask him a question. I wanted to ask him how he was able text the 19 year old girl next to me while on cooking on stage and still retain any shred of decency, but then I realized he lost that a long time ago.

On a brighter note, Richard Blaze was also there to represent the almond, and although I did not see his presentation because I had to leave for work…boo…I DID get a snapshot of him pouring liquid nitrogen all over some of the nuts. The photo kinda reminds me of Culinary Mad Scientist in action. Maybe it’s the hair.

Finals this week, and then it’s on to Meat Fabrication. Bring on the sliver skin!!!!

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A few school pics…

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