I am speeding towards the end of the semester, and I couldn't be more grateful. This has been a crazy, stressful school year and I'll be glad when it's July and I can sit back and relax. Before that happens, I have to turn in one more massive assignment, one smaller one, complete one theory and one practical exam (on offal/veal/beef), create and serve two buffet dinners and complete one test on menu pricing. I'm doing this all in the next 2 weeks! Today I am turning in the massive assignment - basically we had to invent an imaginary restaurant, and not only create and cost the menu but produce an actual table menu (literally, to the quality that it could be placed on a table at your restaurant). We also had to consider the type of restaurant, type of clientele, suppliers, and also produce a roster for the staff working at the restaurant. Needless to say this project took quite a while, and really did mimic what you might need to do to start up a restaurant in real life. In other words, this was a hugely important assignment, and it's one of the few culinary theory subjects I've done where I know I will use this information in the future.
One of the hardest things to do was to come up with the 'concept' - the type of restaurant you wanted. Once that was done, we had to write the menu in what is known as "modern descriptive style" - in other words, LOTS of words, but no titles, and no single-line descriptions. Basically the usual poncy-frou-frou crap you see on menus in high-end restaurants. I agonized over this for ages, as I wanted to meet the criteria but not come across as full of shit. After all, the 'Silver Birch' is "...a small (30 seat), elegant restaurant located in a affluent bayside suburb of Melbourne" and not a full-of-gobbeldy-gook-talk French place. It was only after I completed this assignment that I came across this, and I realised how much time I had wasted. Bugger! Still, I think I did a pretty good job, and if I don't get an 'A' then heads will roll.
...and for those that are curious (note, this is a Summer menu). It might not be ground-breaking gastronomy, but it is a menu full of things I would actually want to eat:
Sunshine-inspired gazpacho of vine-ripened tomato consomeé with avocado, sweet corn, fresh coriander and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Tapas platter laden with paprika and eggplant dip, marinated chilli and garlic Mount Zero olives, Spanish sherry-doused roast mushrooms, paper-thin slices of jamon and pomegranate glazed chorizo served with warm bread
Free range chicken skewers marinated in a Thai-inspired combination of flavours including sesame oil, fresh lemon grass, chilli and lime. Served atop a generous curl of hot wok-tossed noodles
Pan-fried salmon served draped in a house-made wasabi mayonnaise. Served on a bed of nutty rice pilaf and accompanied by a medley of freshly steamed vegetables napped in butter
Rosemary and garlic rubbed grilled Porterhouse served with smashed new potatoes, grilled sweet corn and roasted red capsicum
An individual round of flourless orange and hazelnut cake served with a fragrant honey and orange blossom reduction and a dollop of hazelnut praline double cream
A decadent, luscious lavender-infused crème brulée served with fresh house-baked lemon madeleines
A generous wedge of rich bittersweet chocolate tart covered in a velvety raspberry ganache and served with plump fresh raspberries
A refreshing combination of prawns and scallops served as a ceviche flavoured with lime, coriander, radishes and Serrano peppers
Sheets of house-made fresh pastry filled with a delicate mousse of smoked salmon, cream and chives and served with a soft, creamy Heidi gruyère sauce
A refreshing trio of house-churned tropical fruit sorbets –Passionfruit, Mangosteen and Pomegranate - topped with a cloud of spun sugar