Friday, September 19, 2008

Hors D'Oeuvres (Frittermania!)

Chef Al got all up in our faces and sassy about hors d'oeuvres today -- they're a lot of work, hard to get out at the right temperature, and if they're preceding a catered meal, God help you, because moron waiters won't. There is a whole set of rules -- always keep a tray 2/3 full, always have a second tray ready to go when there is one out, you should make about 2.5 pieces per person per party, a tray should always have garnish except if the tray itself is something stunning, like sterling silver or antique crystal, then just let the plate shine through. And he insisted the best book for recipes and rules is Martha Stewart's book!

Our graduation's cooking will be mostly hors d'oeuvres. Each pair of students will do one stationary item (like a roast, which needs to be carved to order), two to three hors d'oeuvres and one dessert. Oddly enough, the pakoras I made today were vegan, one of the few items in my many months at school.

Chef ran through the recipes, and off we went. I blinked, and all of a sudden I was grouped with Squarehead, 2nd Language Girl and Dora the Explorer, -sigh-, whatayagonnado. We divied up the recipes, and I ended up with Spicy Shrimp Fritters and Vegetable Pakora Fritters with Tamarind Chutney.

The shrimp fritter was pretty straight forward. Take a bunchof shrimp, peel and devein. Half of it turn into a smooth paste in a food processor, the other half dice finely. Steep some rice vermicelli in hot water to soft, cut into short bits. Through it all together with minced scallion, bit of dark icky shrimp paste (a brackish stinky fermented product) and a singular tiny bird's-eye chili, minced carefully with gloves on. Separately, mix up some egg, water and fish sauce togehter, then slowly add some AP flour to form a batter. The dry goes into wet, then into the fridge to come together. When fried off in one-tablespoon lumps, salt when hot.

The vegetable pakora was a little bit more involved. All the dry get sifted together: mostly chickpea flour, with turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and salt. Whisked with water, set aside to set for 30 minutes. Vegetables get diced: zucchini, sweet potato, cauliflower, peas, onion, Herbs get minced: cilantro, purple Thai basil and parsley. Once the batter was set, veg and herbs folded in, then spooned into the hot fat. (2LG made the delicious chutney.)

My number one choice of pizza place to extern at finally got back to me today -- I trail on Wednesday! Wish me luck...

BREAKFAST: 6:30am, banana, .25 bowl, hunger 2/5

AM TASTINGS: 10-12pm, mushroom phylo triangle, shrimp toast, crispy duck wonton, chorizo and tomato phylo triangle, cod fritter, risotto ball, coconut shrimp, curried lamb triangle, spicy shrimp fritter, vegetable pakora fritter, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Today's food was definitely delicious, but by no means light or particularly healthy.

PM WATERING: 2pm, 1 quart

PM SNACK: 4pm, small amount of bittersweet chocolate, .25 bowl, hunger 4/5

DINNER: 8pm, hors d'oervres including pigs in blankets, lame vegetable dumplings, sea bass skewers, mushroom and goat cheese on toast, mini burgers, coconut shrimp, chicken torta, dinner including bbq pork, pulled chicken, potato salad, corn bread, grilled veg, cheese ravioli, half glass of champagne, water, 2 bowls, hunger 4/5
At a wedding of a friend of B's. The hor d'oerves were eatable and appealing, but I could hear Chef Al in the back of my mind getting into a hissyfit about the crassness of pigs in blankets.

EVENING WATERING: Midnight, quart of water

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Career Lecture (Food Memory Essay)

Today was not for cooking, but for lecturing. A speaker came in, the same one from a few months ago, and ran down the basic budgetary theory of opening a restaurant. Start-up costs versus operating costs, working budget vs. profit/loss statement, and operating profit vs. net income. In three groups, we calculated the cost of ingredients in a single loaf of bread, and reviewed the many, many direct operating expenses -- everything from paper supplies and trash services to credit card fees and linen costs. Basically, a 4-hour overview of what others have learned in management class over the past several weeks.

Chef Al requested an essay from us, to include a statement of who we are, what we do, our favorite food, a food memory, and who inspired us to go to c-school. Admittedly, I recycled some material from my old blog, but if it fits, it fits! Here's the essay, for your readin' pleasure:

I am -redacted-. I was born and raised on Staten Island, schooled upstate, and now on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with my wife, B, and my ever-loving feline named Rufus, who happens to be a girl, but that’s another essay.

Out of college, I managed an independent music label for about 5 years, and then started a career in graphic design. Over the past decade, I’ve worked as a designer at a white-shoe law firm; as a production coordinator for a print broker; and, most recently, as a project manager at -redacted-. While putting myself through culinary school, I’ve been working as a free-lance business-to-business presentation specialist.

It’s hard to pick one favorite food, because like music or sex, different things appeal differently at different times. If a gun was put to my head and I forced to choose, it would have to be pizza—for two primary reasons.

First, for nostalgic reasons. When I was a kid, my parents would bring home a pizza to give my mom a break from cooking. Pizza nights always felt celebratory, and put everyone in a good mood. It also didn’t hurt that there was always good pizza in Staten Island, with its large Italian community and independent pizza shops.

Secondarily, because of all of the fabulous pizza that’s come to New York during the past few years — Una Pizza Napoletana, Franny’s, Isabella’s, Otto, as well as the classics like L&B Spumoni, Grimaldi’s, Totonno’s, and John’s. Such a simple food with a limiting definition, but such character and variety can emerge from this restrictive palate.

A few weeks ago, I sat down to read my hand-written journal from my cross-country bike trek. I wrote down pretty much everything I ate—the good, the bad, especially the ugly— and a lot of thoughts about my parents, whose passings were still very fresh in my mind at the time. Only once, the two subjects crossed. From my Marshfield, Missouri entry:

Heard a piece on the radio about some local hospital improving their food, choked me up. Reminded me of the time my mom was hospitalized—her food, sharing pizza & Chinese food with her, bringing her chocolate. God I miss her.

Mom’s hospital food was bland and gross, and my mom had no appetite due to the chemo. Still, she would eat bites of the pizza, Chinese, and chocolate not because she was hungry, but because it was comforting. And it was shared with her son.

The full weight of my mother losing her facilities came to light due to her bearings in her kitchen. When she started her first course of treatment, they eventually sent her home, and every few days she would make her way back to the hospital. I got a call from her one evening at work, a little panicked because she could not remember how to turn off the oven. I immediately left work and rushed to her apartment. When I got there, the oven was off; she had mistaken the clock time on the panel as a temperature. The next day I moved in with her and started making arrangements for home health aides during the day.

My mom was never a good cook, and it was almost a relief that during the time I lived with her that I got to prepare breakfast and dinner (I’d set aside easy stuff to prepare for the aide). I remember one dinner: I was preparing dried pasta and jarred sauce, and made a simple green salad with most of the stuff I grew up on—carrots, cucumbers, green pepper, celery, onion, except instead of iceberg, I used romaine. I stopped eating iceberg lettuce years before because it tastes like nothing and is nutritionally void. When I served the salad, my mom asked where the iceberg was. I sighed like I was a snotty teenager again, told her this was much healthier, not to mention tastier, and it was HER generation who screwed up our eating habits by making silly stuff like that the standard.

Instead of getting into a raucous (and fun) argument with me about intergenerational food warfare and my silly teenage-like snootiness, she meekly said, “but I like it.” I immediately felt horrendously guilty—I knew subconsciously she was dying and these were most likely her last meals (they were), but on the surface I was hoping to introduce her to new things, to things that reflected my way of thinking and seeing things. Suffice it to say, for the next month until the end, her house saw nothing but iceberg lettuce. I can’t eat the stuff today without feeling a little guilty and sad.

A few people shaped my experience that lead to culinary school. My mother, of course, because she was a lousy cook! I grew up hating the food I ate at home, and cooking for her was an eye-opener. I couldn’t cook to save myself, and I certainly couldn’t cook any better than she could.

Next, my nutritionist, Ilsa. In recent years, my doctor told me that I had to eat better to get a handle on my blood pressure. Having no idea what ‘eat better’ meant, I started seeing a nutritionist who led me on activities like walking through the farmer’s market and just vibing on what appealed to me. In honor of my mom, and to the delight of my wife, I started cooking at home, reading up on the culture and politics of food that has been evolving around my generation.

The more I read, the more I cooked, the more I knew that I was incredibly inflexible and limited in what I ate and what I cooked. I went to c-school to become a healthier, more worldly person who can cook for himself, a more generous and loving person who can craft a meal for loved ones who need to be fed, and perhaps, put a curve in a career away from the law and corporate sector and into something that involves nourishing both body and mind.
The lecturer told an interesting story about Shake Shack, in the context that restaurants are constantly looking to cut costs and boost profits. The vanilla shake's shake's ingredient cost was 15% of its price, while the chocolate shake was 40%, due to the mix of three expensive kinds of chocolate used in making the ganache (that was blended into the vanilla base). They called their vendor to request samples of cheaper chocolates. They made the shake the old way and with the new cheap chocolate, and did a blind taste-test in house. Everyone who tasted it agreed: The cheap chocolate tasted like ass! It would have been damaging to the brand and rep if people started asking why the shake started tasting crappy while the price remained the same.

So after class I went and got a chocolate shake from the Shack. After waiting on line for an hour and spending $5.25 on a petite 12 or so ounce portion, I must say it tasted pretty great -- the deep chocolate flavor had nice caramel overtones. Still, for the wait and the price, so not worth it.

BREAKFAST: 6:45am, smoothie, 1 bowl, hunger 2/5
Good milk and yogurt, banana, grapes, blueberries, flax, ice. Wasn't feeling inspired, but haven't had a smoothie in a while.

AM SNACKS: 9-11:30am, 2 crackers, small piece of baguette, small handful of peanuts
Weren't cooking this morning, but had a few snacks lying around.

PM SNACK: 1pm, chocolate shake, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5

SNICKLESNACK: 5pm, seitan with quinoa and kale, sesame tahini dressing, water, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5
Chow with the HVS after an HVS-lead yoga session. Felt good to eat some intense green.

DINNER: 6:30pm, Capricciosa Pizza, a couple of small slices of Marherita, flourless chocolate cake, water, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Delicious pizza at a place where I'm considering an externship. The pie I had was recommended by the waitress, a white pie with fresh cow's moz, sausage, artichokes, green olives, mushrooms and rosemary. Nice thin crust, seriously good, where has this place been? Really under the radar.

EVENING WATERING: 9:30pm, quart of water.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Practical (Again, Plating & Portion is the Problem)

Today was the third and final Market Basket, as well as our final practical exam. The protein was Cornish Game Hen (which is just another name for "baby chicken," just a bit smaller). The pantry was stocked, and away we went.

After yesterday's trials and tribulations, I focused from the beginning. There was specialty equipment on hand to use, but no pizza stones -- no way was I going to bake on a pie in a sub 500-degree oven on aluminum, it would turn out gummy, no matter how thin the dough. However, there were pasta attachments for the mixers, so a bed of pasta it was.

Color: I didn't want a lot of white and tan everywhere, having to depend on garnish for color. So I blanched some spinach, blended it until liquid, and used that to bring the bread flour together. After some kneading, I had a nice green pasta dough. While I kneading, I thought of what could go on the plate. My plan: to sauté parts of the bird until golden, make a chicken stock pan sauce with a lot of wine to coat the pasta, simmer some elegantly cut mushrooms, remove various gills and the skins. Maybe even put in some diamond-cut some red peppers. Chef Al will like that, right?

So I dissembled the bird and frenched the legs for another 'elevating' touch Chef Al might appreciate. Sautéed it in peanut oil, salted well, looked nice. While the bird was frying, I broke out the dough and sent it through rollers. It was a bit loose, due to the spinach liquid on top of the eggs; but, I added a lot of flour until it got pasta like -- and saved the dish! (I've made too-loose dough at home and it was a disaster.) But this time, I was cool and calm. I patted myself on the back, what could go wrong?!

It was at this point I oopsed -- no water was on to boil. If you make pasta, the FIRST step should be to get a big honking pot of water on to a rolling boil. And here I was, with my chicken already cooked off.

So I finished my vegetable cutting, played with some fan action, then got the pan sauce going. Using the brown fond from the chicken and the fat it was cooked in, I hit it with some shallot, followed by a solid four ounces of white wine. Flambéed a bit; then, when near to dry, started ladling in the chicken stock. Water was not yet I kept on adding stock as it reduced, adding more and more to an intense flavor.

When the water was finally boiling, I threw in about half my pasta, then the mushrooms and peppers into the sauce. Tasted it, needed just a pinch of salt. After three minutes, pasta out of the water, coated in a bowl with good olive oil for a nice sheen, and twirled onto a hot plate already ladled with sauce, with the veg pushed to the southern rim. Four pieces of bird stacked on top in an orderly way, two fans of pepper upper left to break up the uniformity, and off I went, confident that I was presenting a nice dish -- fun to make, yet certainly not oversimplified.

First comment from Chef Al: Way too much pasta. Not everyone is as large as I am, he said: nice! Fresh pasta is expensive to make, and even an entrée portion is about one third the amount I presented. The plate was too crowded, and the red peppers were making it too busy -- I could have used the peppers as an accent, but between the green pasta, tan sauce, and white mushrooms, that was quite enough. Needed white space. If he got that in a restaurant, he would not want to eat it, he would have sent it back. He asked me to fetch him a plate, to he could show me what he was talking about; as I did, I noticed him tasting the chicken. D'oh! It was dry, as it had been sitting on the rack for an extra ten minutes while I waited for that water to boil. He did credit me for going through the trouble of making a nice pasta, though; I suppose he felt bad for ragging on me so thoroughly. I got an 85/100, the lowest score in the class except for Speedy, who unfortunately showed up 2 hours late to class today.

As I went to my station to lick my wounds, I ate some pasta -- HOLY TOLEDO!! It was easily the best pasta I ever made -- it was toothsome in just the right way, and the rich flavor of the sauce was perfect, winey in the right way, just a hint of roasted garlic. That made me feel a bit better, knowing despite the f'd up bird and the poor presentation, I rocked it in flavor.

At the end of class, Chef Al asked each of us to write an essay -- who am I, what is my strongest food memory, why am I in culinary school. Tomorrow, a career lecture from an outside speaker, cooking continues on Friday.

BREAKFAST: 6:45am, good granola with the good milk, .5 bowl, hunger 3/5

AM TASTINGS: 10:30am, a little pasta with wine sauce, .5 bowl, hunger 4/5

LUNCH: 1:30pm, homemade pizza, seltzer, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Fun home cookin' with the HVS and the Ruf. Funny, Chef and all the students have nothing but scorn for vegetarians, but one of my bestest, closest friends is a vegan among vegans. I look forward to showing her off at graduation, like a rare, mystical evil unicon.

PM SNACK: 4:30pm, brownie
Small snack at a school function. I didn't think, it just jumped down my throat!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market Basket (Fall Back Onto Noodle)

Today was the second day of Market Basket, this time with each student making one appetizer and one entrée, with one protein for each: sea bass and poisson (baby chicken). Again, lots of ingredients in the pantry for us to work with.

First thing was deciding on what to make. I decided to go as simple as possible: an appetizer of poached bass in court bouillon, and an entrée of roast poisson with rice pilaf and sauce Allemande. Gently poach fish in broth, roast chicken with fluffy buttery rice and a rich, chicken stock. How could I go wrong?!

The fish was dissembled and filleted, cut into 1 ounce tranches. The court bullion is simply vinegar, carrots, onions, parsley, bay leaf, cracked peppercorns, and thyme simmered for an hour, then strained. Poaching takes place right in the liquid.

While that was simmering, I made a simple rice pilaf. Sauté some minced onion in butter, toss in the rice, fry until translucent. Add 2x the amount of rice in chicken stock, a bay leaf and a bit of thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, into the 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

Sauce Allemande is based on the mother sauce, sauce veloute. Veloute is simply taking a small amount of blond roux (cooked flour and butter) and whisking into chicken stock to thicken it. For the Allemande, shallots and mushrooms are sweated, the veloute added then simmered with some herbs, then strained. It is finished with laison (egg yolk mixed with heavy cream) right before serving for that extra mouth feel.

Fish done in a jiff, I was the first one out the gate to present a dish. To say Chef Al unimpressed would be a dire understatement. First, he told me that the portion was too small (1 oz of fish), the parsley I used as a garnish looked "childlike," and finally: One never presents court bouillon; it's a poaching liquid only, not a broth (which makes sense, as it tasted like vinegary ass)! Chef Al bluntly asked me why, if I'm going to spend x amount of dollars on culinary school and take the time, I came up with only this. I was told to complete the assignment again. To which I respectfully said, "thank you, Chef," and went back to my station.

Yeah, it was a lazy dish, and I should have known better about the bouillon, but I just wanted it to be done. After taking a moment to recover, I thought, OK, I already have poached fish, maybe I can put it on a bed of something that'll work well with a garnish.! Nothing faster than rice vermicelli, drop it in boiling water, turn off the heat, and in 2 minutes, voilà: noodles.

In a small sauté pan I heated up some canola oil and dropped some ginger in to sweat and flavor it. Got rid of the ginger, dropped in the dried-off noodles, grated some ginger juice on top, added some soy sauce, quickly diced some red pepper for color. Put in in the center of the plate, put a trio of pieces of fish on top...and it looked like crap. It needed sauce. And time was running out. So I grabbed some soy sauce, put it in a pan with an equal part water, and tossed in a few pinches of corn starch. With heat, it turned brown and thick, sauce-like! Dribbled it around the border of the plate, dropped some olive oil droplets on to the fish to make it glisten, played with some small sticks of red pepper for visual interest, then back for round two.

This time, Chef Al's comments were mostly about visuals, and how a bit of green garnish, say, would have made sense with Asian cuisine (like cilantro). At least he didn't question my motivation for being there. So that was an improvement!

Still, I was unsettled by what had happened earlier. Roast chicken, rice n' sauce -- not the most earth-shattering choice, but I found myself too late in the process to change my direction. Rice was done, poussin was out of the oven and resting, all that needed to be done was finish the sauce. So I put a ring on a hot plate, pushed rice into it, propped up the half-bird on it, then finished the sauce. I drew a ring of sauce around the top two thirds of the plate to highlight the chicken, put some dots of finer-minced parsley for some green, and sensing it needed something more, added a little fan-triangle of pepper to the spot where the chicken met the rice. Didn't quite look right to me, but I didn't want to start second-guessing myself.

Again, Chef Al's criticism was about the plating. He did give me tips on how to place parsley powder on sauce with a knife tip for more precision. He thought the plate looked empty at the bottom, and the better approach would have been to place the chicken on top of a pool of sauce, with the rice to the north of it. He did compliment me on my pepper fan, and even grabbed it off my plate to illustrate to the next student how to decorate his plate.

Tomorrow is the third and final day of Market Basket, and also our final practical exam. I don't know what the protein or ingredients are yet, but I'm thinking something I've made many times at home....either pizza or ravioli!

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed so to speak, didn't feel hungry, and nothing but yogurt to eat anyway. As the food I made I geared towards presentation, didn't taste very good and I didn't bother eating, which was weird.

AM TASTINGS: 10-11am, a bit of prosciutto, a taste of bacon, quart of water

LUNCH: 1pm, spinach salad with carrot dressing, hijiki tofu patty, water, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5

PM WATERING: 2:45pm, quart of water

DINNER: 6:15am, green salad, 3/4 of a frozen pizza, 2/3 of a pint of ben & jerries, 2 bowl, hunger 4/5
Did not eat enough today. Was at the market, wanted to get dinner, but didn't feel like cooking, so did some "research" by picking up some shee-shee brand of frozen pizza. It was ass. The crust was too thick and not enough chew, the cheese was layed on like a wet blanket, there was barely any tomato flavor to speak of, and the "herbs" were so tamped down to be non-existant.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Market Basket (Food, Like a Kiss from a Stranger)

Today was Market Basket, where we were given five ingredients that had to be used over two appetizers. It wasn't particularly difficult, as we were given a fully stocked pantry to work with, too. Really, it was too much choice.

The five ingredients were:
  • Sea Scallops
  • Slab Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Shitake Mushrooms
Norbert and I teamed up, he went with a simple spinach salad with a bacon vinaigrette and sauteed scallops (with bacon fat as the lipid). I decided to go with a stir fry of vegetables, and brine and velvet the scallops.

Most of the work was collecting the mise and chopping the veg: oil, garlic and ginger to flavor the oil, sliced the mushrooms, carrots, red onion, devein the spinach, soy sauce mirin, sesame oil, a bit of garlic chili paste, a dash of fish sauce, fish stock.

I soaked the scallops in salted water for about 20 minutes, patted them dry, then dredged them in cornstarch. Got canola in the hot wok, moved around crushed garlic and ginger till it was browned and given up all it's flavor, then removed it. First, I placed the scallops (sliced into thirds) into the oil, saute about a minute on each side till a lovely golden brown. Moved them to the rack, then started stir-frying the veg: carrots, then shitake and onion, then the spinach, a dash of soy sauce goes up in a puff of steam, mirin a puff of steam, a little fish stock a smaller puff of steam then boils off. Taste, a smidgen of chili paste, a drop of fish sauce. A quick stir, then into a metal round on the plate. Topped with the three wedges of scallop, then off to present. From scallop in the pan to the plate, maybe 3 minutes.

Chef Al was not really tasting dishes so much as critiquing the plating in depth, more than any other chef has done yet - I suspect he may have some experience in food styling. His first critique is that I served him from the right, it should always be from the left, and it didn't get much better from there.

I served on a small plate, he felt that even though it is an appetizer, a large plate with some white space would of been more more dramatic. The dish looked dry to him -- no sauce. He made a comment, something like, "Food should be like a kiss from a stranger: moist, glistening and slightly salty." Eeeee! Anyway, my dish was not sauced, I did not make a sauce -- the stir fry was quite moist, but the sauteed scallops on top were 'dry'. He took a squeeze bottle of canola oil and dropped a few little droplets around the surface of the scallop, and indeed it popped to life. Maybe a few drops of reduced fish stock would of been the move.

The liquid off the veg ran a little when I moved the plate from my station to his table, which he found unattractive. I should of either made the veg a little bit drier or added liquid around the plate to make it look like on purpose.

Right before I brought the plate over, I looked at my station for garnish. I took a small leaf of spinach and placed it on top, it looked good to me. Chef did not approve of the garnish -- the spinach in the stir fry was dark and wilted. He though something like a small piece of fanned onion or a chiffonade of carrot would of added to the color and shown off more refined knife skills -- if you're going to pay $15 for an appetizer, you want to see the money on your plate, y'know?

At the end of class, after cleaning up the room, Chef ran through the different flavors (sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami), the different possible aspects of food (flavor, smell, texture, sound, temperature) and all the different possible textures -- smooth, crunchy, grainy, powdery, chunky, gelatinous, chewy, tough, spongy, squirty, greasy, slippery, and on and on, we rattled off words for a solid 5 minutes. Things to keep in mind when we continue with Market Basket tomorrow, with entrees.

The scale said 224 this morning -- does this mean I should eat McDonald's and Ben & Jerry's every weekend?

I have mixed feelings about today's exercise -- it's like telling a kid after using a pencil for the first time ever, to go draw something, and try to get depth and shading in there. On one hand, it's cool that it puts us in the mindset of using what's on hand -- at home, you have a dry pantry, and then you might have that bag of tomatoes from the farmer's market that'll go bad tomorrow if you don't use them right now. On the other hand, the pretense that any of us have the skills from the last 6-odd months to make something truly creative and good smacks of the school trying to make the customers (i.e. students) happy.

BREAKFAST: 7am, good yogurt with honey and raw cashews, .5 bowl, hunger 3/5

AM TASTINGS: 10-11am, velveted scallops with stir fried veg, freshly made potato chips, Israeli couscous, quart of water, 1 bowl, hunger 4/5

PM TASTINGS: 1-2pm, a few bits of chocolate
Went to demo of a chocolatier making decorations and truffles, pretty over the top.

DINNER: 6pm, philly cheese steak, mashed potatoes, water, 3 pieces of fancy chocolate, 1.5 bowl, hunger 4/5
Went to a diner with B, had this meal keeping in mind the divine steaks I ate in Philly. I thought the bread would be the worst thing about it, but that was pretty good -- the meat was sliced all wrong, too thick and in too big pieces, which totally altered the character of the sandwich. I could definitely make a better, more authentic cheese steak at home. On a side note, what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I on a shitty-food bender? The urge for salad in 3...2...

EVENING SNORT: 7-9pm, equivalent of half a glass of wine, a little cheese n' crackers
The sixth and final wine class, and wine still tastes like...alcohol and funky grape juice. Though I can detect 'oak' in wine. Woo hoo!