Saturday, April 16, 2011


 One of five live crabs I met this morning.

This isn't particularly about pastry or working in a kitchen, but I found this to be something I'd like to share.

I worked early this morning and on weekends, as it happens, I'm usually one of two or three people around. I appreciate mornings alone in the kitchen because of the quiet independence and self sufficiency it allows. The only downside is that it can take a considerably longer time to pick herbs when the door bell is going off every ten minutes and one must put down the tweezers and spritzer bottle to check, sign, and "chop" ("chop" is a noun or verb referring to the stamp or stamping of invoices in Singapore).

Amongst the morning deliveries were five live crabs.

The crabs were all wrapped in twine like brown paper packages tied up in string that are occasionally sung about, the twine placed just so to both restrain and provide a handle for the crustaceans. This struck me as sad, but I understand not wanting to get a finger broken off when getting a crab from point A to point B.

Unlike some folks, I have a tender place in my heart for crabs. I studied biology in university and during my love affair with marine biology, I did a study on the predation of crabs on two mussel species in Puget Sound. During that time, I learned that crabs are... crabby. And they break things, especially when left alone over night in laboratories.

Grumpiness aside, crabs seem strong willed and will do just about anything to escape the clutches of captivity, and I have to say I admire that.

I've met a few people lately that are incredibly talented and beautiful people, people that are confident in their skills and in their ability to take themselves anywhere they would like to go. I hope to continue to meet people like this and that some day, I too will have the skill level and confidence to know that I can constantly move forward with grace and dignity.

Friday, April 1, 2011


"Soap" bars made with cocoa butter.

Do you remember the feeling you got when you were little and the cool kids asked you to play with them? That's pretty much how I felt every time I was asked to participate in the charity dinner hosted at my work. Chefs from Mugaritz visited and showed us some amazing things.

The opening dish, watermelon carpaccio.

You think you know watermelon? Think again. Several days and severe conditions later, watermelon takes on the texture, color, and flavor of meat.

Edible clay from the Mugaritz team.

The restaurant has its own line of kitchen products that are available to the public. Kaolin is a very fine, food grade clay which the chefs used in several of the dishes.

The most delightful item they made was walnut shells to go with the goat cheese ice cream dessert. Kaolin, chocolate, and a couple other secrets were mixed together and molded in ten unique silicon molds that Mugaritz had custom made. Ramon, their lovable mountain of a pastry chef, made all the walnut shells himself. You could tell he was incredibly passionate about pastry and that he enjoyed food and new tastes deeply.

Injecting the walnuts with jelly one by one.

Each walnut shell was filled with a liquor jelly before service. The shells were so delicate that quick and gentle handling were required to avoid breaking or melting them.

Ramon mixing ice cream, walnuts, and goat cheese.

The walnut shells were paired with real walnuts, milk ice cream, and goat cheese. It sounds strange, but you can bet that more than one bowl was passed around the kitchen for taste testing and re-testing with no other aim than to indulge ourselves in the wonderful flavor and texture combinations.

I'd love to post more for you to read, but I have to be up in less than seven hours to get back to the (happy) daily grind. Keep your fingers crossed for a continuation :)

X Melissa

P.S. Also, please forgive any spelling or grammar slips... I'm sleepy and want to bring this to the masses (ha) ASAP!