Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week Two in Leiths: Edible clouds and fascinating fish

Q: What do a moule à manqué, sinistral fish and lambs' brains (sorry) all have in common?

A: New things I learnt about in school this week. 

moule à manqué is a sloping cake tin, sinistral fish have eyes on their left-hand side and lambs' brains are considered a delicacy by some. One of these I ate. 

Guess which one? 

Unfortunately I only ate right-eyed fish this week.

The daddy of nose-to-tail eating Fergus Henderson sweetly describes eating brains as "like eating a rich cloud...a crunch and then rich goo"

A rather strange cloud, but cloud-like all the same. A few years ago I was (annoyingly) fussy about eating fish. But if they asked me to stand upside down on a unicycle in Leiths I'd give it a go. Brain tasting was entirely voluntary I hasten to add. 

Our Friday offal demonstration emphasised the importance of being able to cook foods you may not like. So now if you call over and request some poached brains I'll be able to serve that up for you, no worries. 

But back to the rest of the week. 

I'm starting to feel more settled and am enjoying the routine; changing into uniform, setting up my mise en place, cooking and trying to take everything in. 

Wednesday's demonstration was by fish expert Adam Whittle, from Billingsgate Seafood School

Adam's fantastic fish 

A self-confessed fish fanatic, his enthusiasm and knowledge makes you want to learn everything you can about them. His show-and-tell of different fish types and preparation methods was brilliant and skillful, making difficult preparation techniques look easy. Hearing him describe smoked mackerel as a "bar of gold" you know it's a man who loves his fish.

Bar of gold pictured at the back

Cooking sessions are a roller coaster of highs and lows. But it's the best roller coaster I've ever been on.  This week included cooking my first game (partridge) and cullen skink (smoked haddock soup). Followed by the beautiful world of hand-raised pie making.  A pie that survives rolling out of your bag on the Tube, now that's a proper pie. 

Is there anything more satisfying than making your own pie?

Hand-raised veal and ham pie

Maybe following it with another pie: maple pecan pie. Like eating a cloud of crunchy butterscotch. Definitely the type of cloud to be eating. It's also a dish that's rather, em, difficult to transport on the Tube, what with it being sticky and all. Yes, that's why. A tiny sliver managed to find its way home to Mr. Moustache


It's been another thrilling week. I keep reminding myself to slow down, take it all in and enjoy it.  On the way home I close my eyes, think over the day and smile. Until a lovely commuter reminds me that smiling on the Tube is forbidden and knocks me out of the way to get out.  

Next week there're some classic French dishes on the menu. One of which, clafoutis, is a favourite of Mr. Moustache's. I'm not sure who's more excited...if it makes it home this time. 

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