Phew! My mid-terms at the Natural Gourmet Institute are finally over. I can take a breather, at least for a little while. Then I have to start prepping for my finals because there’s a lot I need to know. (By the way, have you checked out my blog about Greenmarkets over at the NGI blog site? Click HERE.)
The exam was in two parts: a practical and a written. For the practical, we had to make creamy carrot soup, a salad with a vinaigrette, and a poached pear. For the most part, I thought everything came out really well, except that my vinaigrette was too salty. Precisely the things that I thought I had done wrong was pointed out by the instructor:
1. My soup was too thick. (I didn’t know if we were allowed to get more stock. I should have asked and the fact that I didn’t is my own mistake However, my personal feeling is that cream soups should have some body to them, and I thought mine was perfect.)
2. My vinaigrette was too salty. (I forgot to taste it first, and as I’m putting it on my salad, I realized my mistake. I tasted it and it was waaaay too salty. But I would have had to make a whole new salad at that point and time was running out.)
3. As I pureed my soup, I thought about putting my towel over the top, the way they pointedly told us to. I thought about it, but didn’t do it. I knew I’d get nailed for it. And I did.
But he also said that my soup was a little starchy and that he would not have ground the spices into the soup the way I had. While it gave the soup a nice complexity, he said, it dulled the color of the soup. I disagreed―I thought my soup was a lovely creamy orange color. But I kept my mouth shut because what I thought didn’t matter.
On the other hand, the apple juice that my pears were cooking in dried out too soon and I had to add more, and I thought for sure that he would deduct points for that. I don’t think he did. Phew!
As for the written exam, I’ll find out probably on Saturday.
Today I was finally able to get back to my hunt for untried foods. And I wasn’t disappointed. I found a black velvet apricot. It was truly almost black, with almost the appearance of being coated with charcoal. The actual color is really more a deep purple, and when you
bite into it, a winey hue lines the underside of the skin and tints the flesh. It was juicier and a tad sweeter than regular apricots, as if a dose of plum had been shot into it. (Oh, wait, they’ve already done that. Those are pluots.)
I love finding new foods. It’s like going on an exotic adventure without having to check your luggage.