Sunday, December 6, 2009

a persian in rome

It's been a week now (still haven't grasped being in rome) and its going well. It has been an adjustment to say the least. There's always a trial period when I start in a new kitchen, and at times I didn't know if I'd fit into this one, but everything seems to be falling into place.

The week ended much better than it had begun, working on saturday with a few of the fellows from the academy and some of the children on the property. Much to my delight, the head chef Mona, told me that I was a good cook and that she was excited to work with me. Having had a rocky first week, this was the jumpstart I needed to know I had made the right decision for my externship. A few days into my externship, Mona had told me about her love of Persian food, that its her secret passion, and has many persian cookbooks and friends feeding this love. One of the fellows at the academy is a scholar of persian music. Tonight, Mona was having a dinner party where she was making some persian food, and invited me along this morning to help her cook it.

I was excited to spend time with her, which would not only help build our relationship, but to be able to show her some things from my culture. I made some fereni that she was going to serve with rose petals and pistachios from her friend Leila. I also made the dough for barbary, showed her how to make polo and tadig, and helped with the lamb khoresht. It was a fun day, especially since I learned to use the espresso machine at our bar, which ill be using everyday from now on :-D

We all found out we are off on tuesday together, which is a rarity, so we have been brainstorming day trips, and might possibly be venturing down to naples for the day... :-D a demani!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Buongiorno tutti! It’s now my 5th day in Rome, though I still don’t quite believe it. I think it may take me another week to fully realize that I will be living here until April, but it’s alright since I have the time to do so at my leisure. I started work in the kitchen on Monday, and honestly had no idea what to expect. Though I know the principles of the Rome Sustainable Food Project, the way the kitchen was run had still been a mystery. (and in italiano)

Work started bright and early at around 7am on Monday, though being me, I arrived at about 6:10 to a dark kitchen whose keys I had not received yet. To say it was an off day would be the nicest way to put it. At about 7:30, while dutifully wiping down the counter around my area, my pointer and middle fingers were sliced along the length of my chef knife, therby ensuing blood gushing onto the wall of the hand washing sink where I went to take care of my cut. It bled until the end of the night, causing me to have to change my gloves every hour or so because blood would fill up the areas around my finger. For the next day or so, everytime I uncovered my finger it would start bleeding again, but seems to be doing okay now, the wound healing up nicely. So anyways back to work, due to this injury, on my right hand nonetheless, my quality of work suffered, I couldn’t work quite as fast, not to mention get my mental mise en place together enough to focus on the tasks at hand. All of that combined I think made me look farily incompetent to the sous chef Chris… what an amazing first impression I had made.

The next night went 100% better, as I worked with the dinner chef, Dominico, an Italian cook who spent much of the night making fresh pasta for the main course at dinner. I took care of the primi, or the first plate, which consisted of fava bean puree, sautéed chiciory and dandelion greens, marinated geta olives, and bruschetta. To complete four components on a plate by myself was quite satisfying, given the previous days events. I believe I will be working with Chris again tonight, so I hope I can prove to him and show him that I deserve to be here. Afterall, he is the one grading my externship manual modules. Other than getting situated into Roman life, there is not much to report. Given some miscommunication and unorginization, our sleeping arrangements have been off and on for the past few days, but they should be clearing up soon. All I need to do now is improve my Italian so I won’t feel like such a foreigner when I try to order an espresso at the bar (café). Ciao!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

va bene

I have arrived! I got into Rome yesterday and given the fact that I had no sleep, made it to 8 or 9pm without dying. Today was my first full day in Rome, the last day before I start my externship. Ill be working at the Rome Sustainable Food Project, where we stress the importance of foods that not only take, but give back to the environment. Its a peaceful and healthy way to live and I suggest all of you start looking to eat more healthy, and to pick up the books "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer as well as anything related to sustainable agriculture, slow food movement, and Alice Waters.

So I'm still getting settled in here, our apartment is lovely with high ceilings and the most breathtaking view of Ancient Rome, it seems surreal. Today my roommates and I walked over to the Vatican and went to the sistine chapel, where not only the ceilings were beautiful, but the mosaic on the floors as well as sculptures lining the walls were astounding. Later on we went over to the Academy for a fellows birthday. The way the Academy works still confuses me some, but people who have won the Rome Prize come and stay at the Academy as fellows to complete fellowships in their specific field. Tonight at the reception I talked to a fellow writing her dissertation on Ancient Rome as well as a gentleman from Virginia staying here as a visiting scholar. The grounds and entire atmosphere is a very educated place and I love that I will be able to talk to such smart individuals on such a varied body of subjects.

It's only 8 o clock now but I think my body is yelling at me for some sleep, having woken up several times in the night and getting an early start today. Walking through Rome and up the hills and steps to our apartment have proven that I spend way too much in the kitchen and not enough in running shoes. There is a gorgeous park around the corner from our apartment which I'll take advantage of walking through until the weather gets too cold. The internet here is a bit daunting to use, but I will post photos just as soon as I can... if anyone still reads this. :-D

Monday, November 23, 2009

io vado a roma!

The life of a culinary student caught up to me the past few months which is why I haven't posted a blog in just as long. After cuisines of Asias I took quantity production lunch, where we served between 400-500 students within an hour (busy to say the least), then breakfast class which took place from 1am to 9am (wtf, to say the least.) After that was our final class before externship, Garde Manger, where we learned to set up buffets, do hors d'oeurves, and cold food productions such as making sausages, hams, and terrines.

In other news, over my period of nonexistence on blogger, I managed to land the externship I had been dying to get in Rome, Italy. So as of this friday, I'll be blogging to you from my new home in Rome until April where I am sure to learn a ton about Sustainable Agriculture!

Check back for updates, arrivederci tutti! (baci)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

korea & the harvest dinner

It's been a week in our Asian Cuisine class, and though I have been learning a lot, I cant shake this cloud over every one of my days. I hope it goes away because I haven't been enjoying school as much as I used to. Yesterday I had the opportunity to work at the Hudson Harvest Dinner, that showcases the harvest of the season with a 6 course dinner made with (mostly) all items from right here in the hudson valley. Everything we tasted was simply prepared but had so much flavor, it was delicious. Here are some pictures from our first day doing cuisines of korea, and some from the dinner, though I didnt have much time for pictures.

korean bulgogi marinating:

beef short ribs:

scallion salad

daikon radish salad, mu chae:

Kim chi:

jap chae, a vegetable and glass noodles dish, garnished with egg crepes and scallions:

completed beef short rib plate with rice:

beef bulgogi:

At the harvest dinner, these were some of the hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour:

Salad course:

And plating the entree:

Cheese plate:

With some berries and fruits for adding on:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

wokin asian cuisine

I have an excuse for going missing. My life has been so hectic and busy that my lack of sleep has led to some eye issues? I think not sleeping has dried them out so I can barely keep them open these days. Not to mention being up at 4:30/5 everyday to go to my american cuisines class, which is now over. Here are some more pictures from the class that I didn't get a chance to post before. Tuesday we start cuisines of asia class, which should be a lot of fun considering most of us haven't learned lots of the techniques we are about to encounter. Hopefully it will be a good distraction and way to get my mind off things.

6 weeks to go and still no externship, I just can't find a place I'm in love with, meh...

moqueca with seafood and coconut milk:

brazilian braised goat:

ceviche sampler:
fejoida, brazilian ribs and linguisa sausage:
brazillian mixed grill with chimichurri:
Pescado al Veracruzana
street platter with tamales, empanadas and sopes:
chicken mole with fresh tortillas:
quesadillas with rice and 2 sauces:
grinding corn on a matate:

during service:
jerk game hen:
curry goat:
guava glazed ribs:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

dan's birthday bash

Today was my friend Dan's birthday so we embarrassed him by singing every chance we got. Here he is with the biggest rondeau (pot) of collard greens on campus.

Our kitchen (and Amber posing):

Today we made creole/Louisiana cuisine and finally having the courage to bring in my camera, I snapped a few shots. Though personally I have been distracted lately, we put out delicious food. On the menu today was: shrimp & alligator gumbo, sweet potato & peanut soup, mixed greens with peanut dressing, fried chicken & mashed potatoes & collard greens, crayfish etouffee, grilled vegetable jambalaya, beef brisket with hush puppies and fried onions, and the dish Taylor and I made, stuffed quail with sauteed spinach and red beans and rice. Pretty impressive menu for 14 students, I'd say.

Here is a goat head.. we cooked the meat in a curry sauce for tomorrow:

Here are the boys on the fried chicken station plating up during lunch service. Each station had 2 people and 3 or 4 plate components that they are responsible for. Our menu changes every other day:

Here is the crayfish etouffee being plated during service:

And the vegetable jambalaya:

Here are the quail I made stuffing for and fried:

They were so small, even when they were stuffed they fit into the palm of my baby hands:

Here was our completed dish:

After we sell out of our food we make platter for "family meal," a term used to describe food we eat as staff. Here is my partner Taylor with our platter for family meal:

Everyone enjoying each others cooking:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

new hatred for cuisines of americas

What a week. We completed our first week in cuisines of americas, and I have to say, all the warnings about our chef were true. Up to now, though we have had strict chefs or precise ones, we've never quite had one like our current chef. It makes me sad that for the first time since starting school here, I don't want to go to class. I can't even really be myself because I am afraid of the possible backlash from the chef.  So far, I haven't been told that "I won't make it in this industry," (though she did tell someone that). I'm sure it's coming.

Without time to breathe, much less take pictures, my blog will probably be missing in action for a while, but hopefully will return soon. After this class we are onto cuisines of asia, which should be a lot more interesting and fun. Other than the tense classes, my life is filled with trying to get some sleep, finding an externship and getting time to talk to my friends. Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, August 14, 2009

onto american cuisine?

I admit I sort of failed at posting during skills 3, mostly because it was our first production class and I didn't want to waste time taking pictures, and I figured blogging without pictures wouldn't be exciting enough.

So skills 3 has come to an end, next week we start Cuisines of the Americas, with a Chef who we have heard is very strict. Though personally I wasn't at my best, skills 3 went great, with Chef Zifchak seeing the potential in me that I have been looking for in a Chef.

We worked through various cooking competencies, roasting & grilling to braising and poaching, each day making 30-40 portions to sell to students for lunch. It was invigorating and we learned a little bit about how the future kitchens will be. 

I only got to take pictures on the last day so here is a random selection

Our vegetarian plate of risotto cakes, smoked tomato sauce and vegetable medley

Making pierogis

Sauteed chicken with fines herbes sauce and fresh pasta:

Shallow poached flounder with my fresh tomato linguine and vegetables: