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Ed Hamilton

Sugar Cane syrup

126 posts in this topic

I avoid the puddings and brulees when I order desserts. I want something special that I can not make or I know requires a lot of time, special ingredients and difficulty. I seem to favor berry/pastry concoctions drenched in creme anglaise or creme fraiche or of course profiteroles. The only custard/creams that I like are sandwiched between layers of pastry.


What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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But why is it that something like creme brulee and tiramisu have become pervasive?

When was the last time you saw a dessert souflee or a napoleon offered on a menu? More excitement, less boring please.

SA

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By the time I get to that part of the meal, I'm usually tired and already satiated. So I look for lightness, sharp or acidic flavors -- almost never chocolate although I love it. Or just some dessert wine, eau de vie, or a flavored grappa.

But why is it that something like creme brulee and tiramisu have become pervasive?

When was the last time you saw a dessert souflee or a napoleon offered on a menu?  More excitement, less boring please.

Crème brûlée and tiramisu are rich, relatively soft, mild (if not made well, which they rarely are :sad: ), and safe. And, yes, BORING!!!!! It takes a really interesting variation for me to order c.b., such as a ginger version or some other strong flavor.

As for the soufflé question: actually, last Friday, at Bayard's. Choice of chocolate, Grand Marnier, raspberry, coffee, and something else. And I believe La Petite Auberge still offers them as well.

Do you mean a REAL (classic) napoleon -- milles feuilles pastry, etc.? Or the New-Age type stuff, deconstructed, or made with bizarre ingredients?

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Wgallois--very interesting angle--how does one go about ordering dessert and what are the possible strategies for success? I'd never heard your strategy expressed before but I do the very same thing--when I have no knowledge going in about what is good--I usually order "interesting" or "different."

That said, I have no problem with what some perceive as boring or pedestrian--brownies, vanilla ice cream, creme brulee--as long as they are good. As Suzanne notes, all too often even the simple desserts are not good. This is the real problem and I wish more restaurant critics pick up on this distinction: it is not that these classic or boring desserts are classic, boring or just not very interesting, the problem is that they are not GOOD.

Chefs and restaurateurs who do not hire and support pastry talent--and do not place the requisite emphasis on desserts if they try to do them themselves--should be criticized publicly. It is not enough for a critic to use a throwaway line in a review saying the desserts were perfunctory or not to bother. Too often, the problem lies at the feet of the chef or owner.

Give me a good creme brulee--and by the way, it's not as easy to do a good creme brulee as some might think. (Another thread.)

Now, my strategies (or is this tactics?) are not quite 100% the same thing as you saying "you choose the dish which you think that you would like least," because my experience tells me I'd probably think I'd like the brownie/vanilla ice cream/creme brulee least.

But, a little bit more about my "strategy." Unless I know of the pastry chef or have heard reports of at least decent desserts at a restaurant, I often do the cheese thing, sometimes order a nice dessert wine as a liquid dessert, or don't order a dessert, go home, and nibble on some terribly expensive varietal bittersweet chocolate (with pure cacao butter content and no added vegetable fats, of course) or some Haagen Dazs vanilla swiss almond ice cream. I usually eat out with my wife, also a professional pastry chef, who typically orders dessert everywhere no matter what, and I sit smugly across the table muttering "I told you so" when the dessert lets her down.

I feel pain when dessert sucks and suck they do.

Except when the chance dessert doesn't let her down--or when we know ahead of time the desserts might be good--or when we're recognized as pastry chefs--and then we get all the desserts, many more than we could actually eat in terms of room left in our gullet. To see them, revel in them, appreciate the skill and choice of flavors and "application of technique" or the "very good shopping," whichever the case may be. We start thinking about the menu of desserts as a whole--how it fits with the meal and the cuisine which precedes it, figuring out what equipment they might have, how many hands might be involved in the preparation, we look at things like texture and crunch and hot versus cold all across the menu, we look at how thin, how light, how colorful, how seasonal, how a la minute things are--across the menu. So in a sense, when warranted, we enjoy the dessert menu as we have enjoyed the savory menu and hold it to the same extended scrutiny.

The problem is very few places warrant such attention.

And always chocolate.

Now, my question for you wgallois and everyone else--do you order differently if you know that there is a full time pastry chef in the restaurant? Do you ever ask "who" the pastry chef is--to gauge the response of the server or do you just assume a restaurant must have a pastry chef? This is tied into a larger theme--which affects dessert selection and choice--which is that pastry chefs are losing jobs, pay is declining, and all this is occuring as pastry chefs are supposedly gaining in prestige and awareness as never before.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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When the Seattle scene was blistering hot, the new restaurants identified their pastry chefs on their menus. It was exciting to see what they were creating, and sometimes amazingly good to eat those creations. As the economy cooled, the pastry chefs were let go. For awhile, the same desserts stayed on the menus, though the quality started to erode. Now, it seems like most of these places (not all) have simplified their offerings. Lots of variations in house made ice creams - some wonderful flavors - accompanied by a sweet bite of something else, like warmed fruit or cookies. Rounding out the menus are fresh fruit pies/crisps, lemon tarts, the occassional cake, or the ever popular gooey chocoalte molten soft center mini cake. I still like to look, but am less likely to save room for dessert.

For entrees and desserts - I prefer to order things I am less likely to make at home. Gives me a reputation for ordering the weirdest thing on the menu, but I am more selective than that these days.

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Hi. Elizabeth...I just would like to remind you that in the US we have rather severe laws about having people work for no pay. In New York, the penalties are very steep. Just a thought.

(Edit note--these posts were pulled from another thread and given its own. By me. Hensonville did not just start this, he followed up on Elizabeth considering a stage.)


Edited by Steve Klc (log)

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hensonville,

she is refering to a stagiere position, it is in trade for knowledge and practical experience. Not a non-pay position, the pay comes in the way of experience and may lead to networking and eventually a good paying position.

My wife never understands this....

Why would I go take a job or spend my off time working for someone and not get paid! Then I showed her continuing education or specialty course fees and she could not believe how much they cost, so in the long run- giving up some free time to learn from a qualified professional can save and maybe even make you money.]

I'm not saying to do this without a paying job as an income source, but an addition


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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How bout all the pastry professionals set up a network to schedule stages in kitchens throughout the US (its very common in Europe) and I know we have some talent and they all see willing to share their expertise and knowledge


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Call it what you want - it may very well still be illegal. If the work product of the person is being used in the restaurant for profit, I believe by law that person must be paid. I'm not sure you can call that person an intern by law. Worth knowing the risks involved before making a decision - although the risk is primarily the restaurant's, not the worker's. If the person is working illegally in terms of the INS - well, that's another can of worms entirely.

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Stagiere is something that is very common in the culinary field for professionals to venture out to other chef's kitchens to give their all in pursuit of knowledge, it is not slavery more like volunteer work. Almost like a barter system. "If I come to your kitchen and help out what will you teach me or what can I learn from you kind of thing."


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I understand that it's common practice. That doesn't necessarily make it legal. There are laws about volunteering/interning, and when work must be paid for. Again, worthwhile to know the law and the risks before jumping in.

edit: oops, I meant to post this in that new Stagiere thread - maybe somebody can move the appropriate posts from here to there?


Edited by La Niña (log)

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Just thought of one more consideration, which is actually very important to me: when I'm wavering between ordering dessert or not, because something sounds good, I will ask if it is house-made. You'd be suprised how many good places bring in the cakes and ice creams/sorbets. And if you ask directly, they'll tell you the truth. Hell, they might as well -- the "frutta di bosca" tart and Bindi filled-lemon look the same everywhere. Needless to say, if they don't make it there, I don't order it.

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Please also consider insurance issues: workmen's compensation. personal injury, liability, etc. It's serious stuff.

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Steve,

for a recipe containing:

Cider Sabayon

1 c sugar

15 egg yolks

1 bottle wood pecker cider

I cook over a wb and then whip out cold. I don' want to use cream, how much sheet gelatin would you add?


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I'm with Suzanne here, if the dessert is not made in-house I probably won't have dessert. If I'm reviewing a restaurant that buys its desserts, I see no reason to review that part of the meal, or I'll cover it just in passing.

When ordering, I tend to go for lemon desserts (I like acidic) and if the meal so far has been exceptional, I'll opt for a chocolate dessert. If the dinner has been pretty simple, I'll opt for a creme caramel or something plain (though a good creme caramel is hard to find).

I'll rarely eat out and not order dessert. As a former pastry chef, I feel I have to support a course that seems to have fallen out of favour. Sometimes I'm surprised to find a good dessert at mediocre places (especially sushi restaurants) and weak desserts in really sharp restaurants. I love a good dessert at the end of a meal -- even creme brulee, but NOT tiramisu (ek! too rich).

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Sabayon with cornstarch! Yuck!

I make sabayon by first poaching the mix over a bain-marie to 85 degrees C then whipping it in the Kitchen Aid at high speed until it doubles in volume -- like a pate a bombe (which is is).

Bripastryguy, why would you want to put gelatin in a sabayon? How are you serving it?

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Les,

I do the same prep as you (eg.) Pate a Bombe, they palce I am doing it for, I am not there all time and I dont have "qualified" people working the station and I cant vouch for the integrity or consistency of the sauce. I am looking for a way to preserve the texture. I will not use a starch, so I assumed gelatin would be a viable option..........


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Please also consider insurance issues: workmen's compensation. personal injury, liability, etc. It's serious stuff.

La Nina and hensonville raise important issues. Being in a place of business absent legal foundation does have risks and costs.

As a food handler in many states, certification, TB testing, etc is required. If your (volunteer) action injures a patron, who gets sued? You are handling (raw) eggs, and other foods. In Europe, litigation over this issue isn't frequent, unlike the US.

If you're injured and disabled with an on the job injury, who pays for your rehab? (I'll wager the agreement excludes the proprietor, though)


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Leslie I quite agree with you about the cornstarch, which is why I posed the question. I have made

zabaglione, sabayon before, and used moscoto d asti, not champagne . When I have made it in the

past I have placed my kitchenaid mixer bowl over simmering water, beating with wire whisk to increase

volume. This time, I used a double boiler and didn't achieve the same kind of volume of mixture

because the surface was smaller. Then I transfered the mix of brut rose champagne, egg yolks, sugar,

roughly the proportions mentioned by steve to my mixer and mixing further increased the volume and

cooled off the contents. I then incorporated the whipped cream, folding it in. I served it cold with

macerated blood oranges and served it with the same champagne. The intensity of flavor of the

the champagne in the sabayon and drinking the champagne, unorthodox as it may seem, worked very well. Because, it was never incorporated fully, the mixture separated somewhat, not evident when it

was served , Because, it tasted so good,I didn't want to throw it out , so the next day, I put it back

on the stove and cooked it until it thickened into a creme anglaise, Since it was breakfast time, and I wanted to use up some tipo romano style ricotta, I made

ricotta ,lemon pancakes and put the creme over it , it was great.

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Those are all excellent points. I actually have an interview on Tuesday to sit down with the pastry chef (not sure if I'll do any work in the kitchen), so I need to be prepared for the possibity that she could offer me work with no pay--at least temporarily. I really don't know what I'd say! I'd probably buckle (although I NEEEEEEED money right now) since it's probably the most amazing pastry establishment in all of Chicago. Oh what to do, what to do!


-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Thanks a lot for all the really interesting replies. In reply to Steve Klc's question, I can't say that I have ever ordered puddings with any knowledge of a particular pastry chef in a restaurant. I think that this is a function of the British media's only having an interest in celebrity (head) chefs, at the expense of all others who work in restaurants. Restaurant reviews here rarely mention anyone other than the head chef, and I think diners (myself included) rarely have any sense of the food on their plates coming from a team rather than an individual.

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Elizabeth,

What place is it? Who is the Pastry Chef?

Remember the "free" time can lead to a better pay position, but make sure you have an avenue to pay your bills and to live (very important) That is why I turned down the hotel job.

Free staging should not be in place of a paying job, it should be used to gain knowledge on any off time you have or if you are financially set then you can go work for free full time.

I use staging instead of spending the exuberant costs of pastry classes, I can't believe how much they charge! I feel if I can spend a saturday (4-5 hours) with someone like Michel Willaume-Mondrian Pastry, World Cup, or Francois Payard or Mornad Dare

and get some real practical knowledge and pick their brain its worth it.

I feel that the non-professionals are looking at this as a kind of "slave Labor" and not a chance to gain invaluable experience.

I'm not down playing the legal implications but they are far and inbetween and this is a voluntary situation


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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emmmmm,

wanna share the recipe for those Lemon Ricotta Pancakes?


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Hey Bri, I am interviewing with a place called Bittersweet run by pastry chef Judy Contino. http://chicago.citysearch.com/review/37347...4763/editorial/ I actually learned of her while reading "The making of a Pastry Chef". She is relatively well-known here in Chicago and Bittersweet is just the most delightful little shop/cafe filled with european style pastries. It gets RAVE reviews. I'm thinking that she would most likely offer me a temporary no-pay position to get a better idea of what my skill level is, then maybe base payment on that? Either way, I'm very excited about it! I've been trying for months to get my foot in the door here, so it would probably be best for me to accept anything she has to offer. Do you agree?


-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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My personal experience of this was that I was refused a place at the Ritz Carlton Atlanta (whilst Joel Antunnes was head chef) on the basis that they were not covered by their insurance for someone working in their kitchen whilst not on the payroll, but was accepted by Tom Coohill at La Ciboulette and insurance was never mentioned. This was just for a day in both instances as it was over a weekend of a several week long business trip, so slightly unusual circumstances.

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