a Whalesbone of a time!

I found myself at the Whalesbone restaurant last Friday night. Here’s what happened:

Chef Charlotte “so tonight I’d like you to bread 60 lbs of haddock, individually wrap them and then freeze them.”
Me “ok…
Charlotte “plus you’ll be responsible for plating all the desserts. Half the staff is sick… so tonight is the perfect night for you to come in.
Me “is someone going to show me how to plate them?

You might be wondering why we were having this conversation… You see, Charlotte is the head chef at the Whalesbone restaurant here in Ottawa. She rocks it. Charlotte and I have been friends now for 8 years… and we both love food. So when Charlotte invited me to learn the business and help with prep and service, I jumped at the chance to work with her. This was my second attempt and this time I was completely on my own.

the breaded haddock

Are you wondering how long it takes to bread 60 lbs of haddock? Well it took me almost 4 hours… In my defense I did plate desserts while I was breading … so maybe that accounts for the length of time?

But I really didn’t mind, you know why? Because I got to plate some heavenly desserts… a combination of Jenna’s (Whalesbone pastry chef) genius and Pascale’s (another friend, another chef goddess) world’s best ice cream (seriously).

Mint Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Dollops of mint anglaise and chocolate sauce, the mint chocolate chip cheesecake is then topped with some mini peppermint patties, which are then topped with a cookies and cream ice cream (sigh… you should have seen the chunks of cookies in this one. amazing)

WBOH Snickers

A layer of perfectly dense moist brownie, filled with a dulce and peanut mixture, and then topped with chocolate ganache. Some sponge toffee for extra crunch and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. A sprinkle of coarse salt on top of the brownie and bam! Party in your mouth.

Whiskey Sour

Lemon curd spread on the plate, topped with light and fluffy lemon cake, which is then topped by frozen citrus mousses, whiskey ice cream (ice cream with a real punch), caramel sauce drizzled all over the ice cream and then a beautiful deep red Maraschino cherry to top the entire thing.

I had an awesome time… I’ve learned the following too; when you get an order of 6 desserts for the same table, plate everything EXCEPT the ice cream until you are just about ready to serve… otherwise, you’ll be re-plating.

And although I’m excited to eat some breaded haddock… I don’t think I’m be serving it that way in my kitchen for quite some time ;0)

inspired by… ME

I’d like to let you in on a secret… well, I guess it isn’t a secret if you: (1) live with me, (2) work with me, (3) talk to me regularly. But for everyone else, here goes. I’m obsessed. Yep, obsessed with these tofu sundaes, created at my local organic market (just around the corner and along my route home from work).

A great little shop for all my baking needs, I’ve discovered that it is also home to these tofu sundaes; peanut butter supernova (not for the faint of heart, or anyone with a peanut allergy), chocolate peanut butter bliss, even flavours that involve almonds and cherries, blueberries and even strawberries.

They sit on the shelve, just waiting for someone to grab them and bring them home. Served in a clear (biodegradable) container, the silken tofu (blended with whatever flavour used) is layered with crushed pecans and chocolate… so that they look just like an ice cream sundae. You know you have a good product when you’re offered a spoon by the cashier… they pretty much expect that you’ll eat it as you walk home :0) (my kind of service!)

maple parallel pecan unvierse

Are you wondering how I became the inspiration for one of these? Well… while buying a chocolate peanut butter bliss sundae I met the girl who makes them, and I thought she should know how awesome I think her tofu desserts are. We chatted a little and I mentioned that in my humble opinion a great flavour combo would involve; pecans, maple syrup, the tofu and chocolate chips. The next time I went in… volià! Minus the chocolate (which I added on my own at home), she’d created the Maple Parallel Pecan Universe. And all because I stopped and chatted with her!

layer of pecans sandwiched between layers of maple syrup tofu

enjoying a spoonful of the dessert inspired by me

my addition of the chocolate chips

I think that is pretty cool. We’ve discussed changing it a little, including more pecans and a bit more maple syrup… but here you go. A first look at something I helped inspire :0)

It totally made my day!

**note: I completely understand that silken tofu isn’t everyone’s idea of a great dessert, so no worries if this entry doesn’t rock your boat. But I do hope that my enthusiasm made you smile. Just a little :0)

au revoir…

This is it… in a couple of hours I’ll be on the plane, headed for Montréal and then on to Ottawa. We spent my final night in Bordeaux; the plan was to go out to dinner and then go dancing. That was the plan until my body decided to revolt. It seems that 8 days of excess desserts, dairy, wine and uber rich food finally got to me. You see, I felt that since I had gotten through all my other indulgences, a final dinner of pizza wouldn’t hurt. Was I ever wrong!

Pizza is to France what curries are to England; you find a pizzeria everywhere you look (yes, even Eymet has one): therefore, into the pizzeria we went. Sigh – a vegetarian pizza with goat cheese only. DELISH! Thin crust, perfectly cooked, lovely, melted, gooey cheese… sigh (I will admit that it was much better than the pizza I had in Italy the summer before). And then… well, my evening was over. I made it out to a super cool bar but ended up grabbing the tram back to my room at the Quality Inn (gotta love trams).

So I wake up feeling a million times better than when I went to bed; all packed and ready to do a final exploration before heading to the airport. First on the agenda – my final pain au chocolat. I can’t leave Bordeaux without indulging in one more pastry… we wander the streets and end up in the BEST PÂTISSERIE ever. Seriously. I have the flakiest, buttery, fluffy pain au chocolat; Julie opts for an apricot croissant. Both pastries are worthy of a double sigh. They serve a pretty terrific café au lait too. Overall… a great way to start the day.

That leaves me with a final 40 minutes before I have to get into the car… so off we go and end up in another French Market!!!! It is beautiful. If you’ve ever been to the Atwater market in Montréal, think that… only bigger and better. Fish, sausages, vegetables, herbs, dried fruit… and obviously cheese everywhere we turn. I wish I could share pictures with you… but I’ve already packed my camera (I know. Lesson learned. Promise) so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It is wonderful.

the box the macarons came in

I’m off to the airport with a box of macarons – this I do have a picture of. They are from Ladurée Paris: raspberry-chocolate, chocolate, caramel with fleur de sel, and pistachio. Aren’t they lovely?

caramel with fleur de sel / chocolate / raspberry-chocolate / pistachio

They taste as good as they look too :0) The cookies are baked perfectly; crispy on top but airy in the centre. And the fillings?! Oh my!!! They just ooze out of the cookies, forcing you to catch the excess with your finger and then lick it up. The best part… I get to use my new straw panier as my sac à main on the plane… how great is that!

the bag that carried my goodies home with me

Au revoir France and thank you for a lovely stay… oh, and Julie, thanks for being the hostess with the mostess!

À la prochaine!