The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

turning potatoes

Today I had my first "offsite lab" at 9 AM for my Food Production class at D'Agostino Hall, which is part of the NYU Law School. Now that I've been in two NYU Law School buildings, I've come to the conclusion that they're 1000% nicer than the other ones. Or the ones I've been to. Hm. Anyway, this could be a new hidaway now that I know that there's a lounge area with super huge smushy chairs and Internet stations in the lower level.

Confusion set in when I couldn't find the room number for the kitchen as listed in my course packet. Talking to a guard almost didn't get anywhere.

"Could you tell me where the food court is?" (I figured there was a good court if there was a kitchen, but the kitchen is more for catering law school stuff.)

"Food court? Are you a student here?" (NYU student, yes...of course, there are a gazillion of us, almost totally unrelated to each other.)

", I'm in the Food and Nutrition department doing a lab in the kitchen."

After a while I found out the guy thought I said "moot court", which would be confusing. It turns out the kitchen was on the same floor as the lounge and computer area, which isn't really something I would've guessed from a bunch of unmarked doors.

After walking in confusedly (not helped by the mental impairment of waking up at 7AM, which while not especially early just doesn't agree with my body), I put on my chef coat and a baseball cap and left my backpack in the dry goods storage area. It had some interesting things, like this:

For that authentic taste...
Italian Flavored Bread Crumbs

I know what the package means, but it implies Italian people and HOLY CRAP, THAT'S HILARIOUS!

Okay, back to the lab. I was immediately put on "turning small potatoes" duty. It's very likely you've never had to turn potatoes (I've only read about it in my cooking textbook); you cut the skin off to make them rounded. And yes, they're already round, but it's more You cut off more than you would if you were just peeling it. While at first I was clearly inept and this newfangled "potato turning", I caught on after a while (when my neurotransmitters decided to work), cutting the potato in half, bringing the blade down towards my thumb, repeating on the other side, dropping the semi-skinned potato with a satisfying plop in a container of water.

During the whole potato turning-ness, I spoke to David, the kitchen's supervisor, or rather, he spoke to me. Oh. Man. He's cool but I couldn't really keep up with what he was talking to me about. "Why are you so animated and awake and telling me random things that I can't remember?!" Probably because he had to wake up at 4AM. Anyhoo, he's quite a character and I mean that in the best way possible. While I haven't met many chefs in my lifetime, he's definitely nothing like any other chef I've met. Hell, he's probably unlike most people I've ever met.

...that probably doesn't help you much in figuring out what kind of guy he is; you just had to be there, I guess. He was telling me a bunch of things that will be important in my life--figuring out finances, being really enthusiastic about whatever I do, learning how to do everything (okay, that's my vague description), not cutting my fingers off--which of course made me think, "Oh shit, I'm screwed." I am.

The lab was supposed to be four hours but I got to leave after three. SWEET! ...damn, an extra hour to roam around? Now what?

Roam for food, of course. I though I was in the mood for onigiri so I began walking towards JAS Mart on St. Mark's Place, but changed my mind about halfway there and turned back due west to check out Von Singh's only to be horrified by a "WE HAVE CLOSED, GO AWAY" type sign. Crap. I heard it was good, so I wonder what happened.

I roamed some more and ended up in Union Square where I ate a spinach stromboli from a baked goods vendor at the north end that I had rarely seen before, while sitting on a dirt/grass area on the east side.

stromboli innards
stromboli innards

It was really good, as in, I'd want to eat it again. I can't compared it to what an authentic stromboli is since I've never had one, so I'd just say it's a bread pounch with cooked spinach. And it's tasty.

After that I had my advanced foods class where I mainly braised-sauteed chicken. That was after I cut the chicken into pieces and attempted to take all the skin off, a task I was nearly successful with except for the wings where THE SKIN WOULD JUST NOT COME OFF, DAMMIT, not matter how much I pulled and poked at with my knife, the skin just stayed all gross and slippery and permanently attached to the meat. Oh well. The chicken pieces were braised in a sauce of chicken stock, sherry, sherry vinegar, crushed tomatoes, sugar, and mustard. It was pretty easy to make but it took a while since I had to sear the pieces first and cook certain parts at different times.

I ATE ALL OF THIS...okay, no

My group also made celeriac and dandelion greens in the same braised-sauteed method. Dandelion greens are either horrible pieces of vegetarian from the third level of hell, or we didn't cook them correctly. But...dude, you just cook them until they're obviously not raw but not like yellowing pieces of crap. So I think they just taste bad, or at least my tastebuds don't like them. Celeriac is quite good (I wrote "quite food" before, which is also true; IT'S FOODY), but I love most/all starches.

You know how I bitch every now and then about eating alone in a city of a gazillion people/organisms? I almost ate out with Lia (who is one of the coolest people ever, yes; she contributes to A Full Belly) but ended up coming to the conclusion that I just wasn't hungry enough to eat out (yes yes, "the girl who ate everything" doesn't really apply here). I SUCK! HOW DO I REFUSE TO GO FOODING? ...well, I really wasn't very hungry for normal foods after the face stuffage of "advanced foods" (I tried just about everything, and there was a lot, mainly meat and starches). She wanted to try Pequena and Cake Man Raven, places I will add to my "eat here" list.

I'm going to cross off one place on my list tomorrow, hopefully: Tuck Shop. Random, eh? I totally forgot about it but while looking around menupages (er, an hour ago), it popped up. I just want to go to a place for lunch tomorrow that's within walking distance (although it's not that close to NYU, but it should't take me more than 20 minutes to walk to unless I'm slow as hell) and cheap. YOU SHALL FIND OUT THE RESULTS...OF THE FOODING.


Kathy / September 29, 2005 2:44 AM

Ooh, that stromboli looks good :) do you have any particular favorites at the greenmarket? I used to buy pumpkin bread and apple cider from one of the vendors on the west side of the market which was pretty good. My lit prof told me to try out La Baguette for their croissants (i think its on 11th st. and union sq west, crap, I'm forgetting all the addresses already!). But do keep on eating pastries as my culinary whims are being lived through you! lol

mzn / September 29, 2005 12:32 PM

"Celeriac is quite food" is a fantastic poetic phrase, whether you meant to type that or not. I love it.

It makes me a bit jealous to read about your free hungry hour in downtown NYC.

And one more thing: I can't see think of a good reason to spend time taking skin off a chicken wing.

Wei-yang Wu / September 30, 2005 12:24 PM

Taking skin off the rest of the chicken is fine.. but the wing?? That's gotta be the pickiest eaters ever. BTW, to take it off, make a shallow slice w/ your knife on the flat part down to the knuckle of the wing (if you're doing the "drumstick" part, its basically the same). Although, I would cut at the joints to separate the wing into 3 parts. Then just peel the skin off. Some restaurants, boil or stick the wing into boiling water for a few min to loosen the meat+skin. However, if you're after the whole wing for frying/baking/hot wings/etc.., that might not be a good idea.

J / October 1, 2005 1:12 AM

Yeah, NYU Law buildings are way nicer. But if you notice, a lot of them have rooms with names like "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz Cafe." Hence the nice, expensive couches.

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