Things have changed at The Whalesbone. No, no… don’t worry – the chefs are the same. The quality, freshness and brilliance of the food is the same. Yep – it’s still a great place to hang out at the bar, enjoy a beer, eat some oysters, and chat with your neighbours (whether you know them or not). Only one thing has changed: and it’s affected me. There are no more sundaes on the dessert menu. No more sponge toffee, brownie bits, cookie dough, passionfruit curd, marshmallow fluff… no more scooping ice cream and layering all those flavours and textures. Nope. Now I’m plating one of the following:
apple pear crumble
cheese platter (with fresh fruit and honey)
And boy… it’s stressful and fun all at the same time. Stressful because I have to learn these new dishes: what they are, visualize how they should be plated, remember each and every little component that makes up the dessert. Those are the exact reasons it so much fun too!
When I got to the restaurant on Friday night, Charlotte came downstairs and walked me through each dish – highlighting what went together, how the dish should be plated, which dish to use, etc. I think she saw a bewildered look in my eyes… gone was the confidence of not only being able to make a good sundae – but being able to create a pretty fantastic one – so Kshonze came down with a list; each dessert and what goes with it. My lifeline. Thank you Kshonze.
When the first order for dessert came in, Kshonze then came downstairs and showed me how they should look. I did the cheese plate – measuring out each cheese, slicing pieces of apple and pear to accompany the board, piling some crostini (the best crostini I have ever had… spicy and sweet… brilliant!), and then drizzling the honey along the outer side. It looked good (apologies, no pictures of this one – I was sure someone else would order it but alas, no one else seemed to have a craving for a cheese board). Meanwhile, Kshonze talked me through his plating of the apple pear crumble and the bailey’s cake.
Since I knew that neither Charlotte nor Kshonze could spend the evening running downstairs to help me plate, I decided to draw a couple of diagrams. That’s right… I kinda felt like a real chef – drawing what the plate should look like… a step-by-step user guide – only instead of instructions, I drew random shapes, pretending that they were either the torte, or ice cream, or a cluster of pecans… nothing looking as it should, but everything having it’s place on the diagram – and therefore on the plate.
my hand-drawn diagrams
pouring the espresso syrup on top of the bailey’s cake
cake / coconut dulce de leche with bailey’s / pascale’s all natural vanilla ice cream / espresso syrup
butterscotch / chocolate ganache / chocolate (pecan) torte / maple syrup / maple creme fraiche / pascale’s all natural chocolate nougat ice cream / fleur de sel / roasted pecans
apple pear crumble / fresh fruit / pascale’s all natural vanilla ice cream / butterscotch sauce (not pictured)
close up of the crumble and ice cream
From that point on… dessert service was a BREEZE. My nerves settled (yes, I still get butterflies in my stomach at the beginning of a Friday night shift), and I was able to focus on the other tasks at hand. Mainly… cleaning mushrooms.
one of the many mushrooms i needed to clean
It was me – a large (very large) bowl of mushrooms and a toothbrush. That’s right. I was cleaning each and every mushroom, individually and very carefully with a toothbrush – ensuring that no little spec of dirt remained. Tedious perhaps… but I kinda, sorta really liked it. I completed half the amount I set out to do (and really… I should have been working on double the amount in front of me) – 6 hours of delicately scrubbing each one.
unprocessed mushrooms / processed mushrooms (aka cleaned)
my toothbrush… and yes… my fingers turned orange too