Last night a skinny little woman came in and proceeded to EAT. She started off with green pea pancakes with grilled vegetables and black-bean sesame sauce, then a salad with roasted beets, Laura Chenel chevre and honey-lime dressing, then pecan-crusted tilapia with spicy greens and fried oysters, a glass of sparkling wine and a glass of zinfandel. Then she ordered three desserts, a lemon verbena panna cotta with rose gelee, a strawberry shortcake with balsamic-pepper ice cream, and a chocolate sampler that had a truffle lollipop, cocoa-almond financier, white hot chocolate with a chocolate beignet and a kind of german chocolate deconstruction with a macaroon and chocolate sorbet.
The GM thought she was a reviewer. I didn't but kept my eye on her nonetheless. After she finished desserts I said to her "You keep eating that way, you'll rot your teeth." She laughed and confessed she was a pastry instructor from the semi-local (2 plus hours away) culinary program at the junior college. She said all the desserts sounded so good and she was really happy to see thought put into them. I let her know that wasn't always the case for us.
About a year and a half ago I read yet another review of some restaurant which said the dessert didn't measure up to the rest of the meal. This is a pretty common thing for I'm sure a few reasons. One may be that most modest places can't afford a pastry chef. Another may be that pastry demands concentration, patience, a certain level of precision and (hopefully) dedicated oven space, all usually in short supply in your average testosterone-driven kitchen. At any rate, it was a crime of which we were guilty and I decided to change that.
I'm still a long way off from where I'd like to be. At this point our pastry has caught up to the early 90's (about right for our area since we're usually about 10 years behind the times on most things). I still think our stuff is too sweet but that may just be me. I should also be incorporating more herbs and savory elements into the desserts but the pesky self-editor keeps jumping in telling me "you can't do that. No one is ever gonna buy that." Although I try not to listen it's hard when you're the one paying the bills.
Then this morning I got an email from Alison Barshak of Alison at Blue Bell. She's another person who in a very roundabout way got me into blogging. Not that I know her. I was reading some trade magazine, it might have been Food Arts, I don't remember. The article was about chefs and technology, specifically the internet and she mentioned, among others, Gastropoda. After checking it out I was both amused and appalled but realized that I have the same bitchy streak running through me and that by not expressing that portion of myself I was holding onto stuff I shouldn't.
As it turns out, I'm far less bitchy on the blog than I thought I'd be. Maybe I should work on that.