Monday, 8 November 2010

Of mousse and Menu

The storm which had been battering and exposing the deficiencies in the double glazing finally left us around 3am. Just as well because I had a date with the Glasshouse at 7:30 to collect herbs, salad and vegetables. The sun had yet to break through though it was at least dry as I walked the couple of hundred yards from the house.

On the order form today Tomatoes and Aubergines, both approaching the end of their season and taking some time to pick out the best survivors, along with 15 types of salad leaf and a range of herbs. A task which could have taken only 20 minutes was twice as long as my partner on the rota had not shown up. Instead of being back in school by 8 o'clock it was nearer 8:40 when we returned. No time for coffee or even to consider my menu as I had to dash straight to my workstation and commence.

The dishes looked simple, Roast Duck and Chocolate Mousse. The devil was in the detail though, the duck needed stuffing and that meant making it and leaving it cool before it could enter the cavity provided  by the evisceration of the avian treat, and it needed an apple sauce making and an accompanying red cabbage and apple dish. The mousse also needed almond macaroons.

Luckily today's mousse was not the gelatine variety and in the battle of Mousse versus Man would prove itself the Charlton Athletic of the Mousse world - easy, easy, easy! The macaroons were stunningly simple and stunningly tasty. The duck once reflated with a filling of sage and onion stuffing went to rest in a warm place for an hour and a half. At this stage there was even time for a coffee, taken with a watchful eye on braising cabbage and apples.

By 11:30 all was ready for tasting and the carving of the duck began. This in turn produced a few moments   "You could have left more meat on the drumstick" " I did, that's the wing you are holding". Having taken advice on the best form of presentation I eventually got it together and lined up the apple sauce and red cabbage beside it.

All three dishes were acceptable so time to whip the mousse out of the fridge and pile up the macaroons next to it, hoping that this was acceptable presentation

Again there were discussions; "It's rather Rummy" "The recipe said 1 or2 tablespoons according to taste, I like Rum so it got 2" "But it's a matter of balance" " Absolutely, and on balance I prefer Rum to Chocolate" "But it is rather nice and these macaroons are brilliant"

Ho hum, with food the loser today time for a spot of lunch before an afternoon of demonstrations about buffet items. Several salads, eggs done 53 ways and a couple of soups, the pea and coriander proving incendiary as the wrong kind of chili had somehow been used. Other highlights included the ice bowl that would not separate and the gradual drift of audience as three hours passed and four loomed over the horizon. The depleted rows of seats looked like the Emirates Stadium after 80 minutes of their most recent football match, but I boasted about that yesterday and a repeat would be churlish.

And finally Question of the day (after a detailed demonstration of making honeycomb) " Wouldn't it have been more fun to lick the chocolate off a Crunchie?"

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