Archive | Napa RSS feed for this section

Cake Class!

10 Nov

We’ve been making cakes in class this whole week.

It’s been SO FUN.

Monday we practiced making flowers.  My little bro is turning twelve this weekend, so I made this for him.  Looking back, it’s kiiiinda girly for my super muscly football player, but whatever.  He should be thankful.  Ehhh I miss him and want to give him kissessss!

On Tuesday we used our carrot cakes to practice covering a cake and making figurines with marzipan.  I’m not a huge fan of marzipan or fondant, but it does make pretty cakes.  And the carrot cake was soooooo delicious.  I had to throw out the scraps because I couldn’t stop eating it.  Absolutely no self control.  Ever.

Don’t look at those “r’s”.  The chocolate was seizing. Eh. Look at the cute bunny!

Yesterday we practiced flooding chocolate.  First, you pipe the black outline, then add the detail, then pipe the colored chocolate.

It was hard getting just the right color, but I was really happy with how it turned out!  Fairy Odd Parents is one of my favorite cartoons to watch with my little bro and sis.  I seriously wish I could sit on my couch and watch this with them when they come home from school.

Blah, I couldn’t get the glare out.  Acetate paper makes the chocolate so shiny… which is a great thing in person.

Today we did 2D cakes with fondant… getting ready for those 3D wedding cakes!  I’ve been kinda obsessed with making an Angry Birds anything since I realized it would have made the cutest sugar sculpture a couple of weeks ago.

The lettering isn’t perfect.  I wanted to just paint the borders, but someone convinced me airbrushing it would have been easier… which it was, but didn’t look the way I wanted it too.  BLAH.  I still think it’s cute and if we didn’t have a noon deadline I would have added a bad guy and it would have been PERFECT.

♥ Heather


Words of wisdom from Chef Musa Dagdeviren… Turkish badass.

8 Nov

Words of wisdom from Chef Musa, who was really the star of the conference (or at least the Eastern Mediterranean side).

Read what The New Yorker said about him HERE.

While I loved helping to create “modern” Turkish food, my stomach LOVED the traditional Turkish food being made beside me.  The flavors and textures were both unexpected and like nothing I had ever eaten before.

Gosh, I wish I knew what this was.  I had seconds and thirds.

So, I was excited when Chef Musa’s translator gave me a cup of this beautifulness… until she told me it was pickled veggies.

I’m not really into anything pickled.  But, of course I had to be polite and try it.

And thank goodness God I did.  America seriously needs to learn how to pickle like Musa.  It didn’t taste vinegary like most pickled things I’ve had, but incredibly well balanced.  I wish this recipe was in our master recipe document from the conference, but I can’t find it.  GRRRR.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was when Chef Musa, with his translator, took me aside and told us that it didn’t matter how famous you were or how many customers you have.  The most important thing is to be positive and have passion because your love and your emotion extends from your heart and mind through your hands and into your food.

That’s something I hope to remember wherever the future takes me.

Me, Belen (the translator/grad), Chef Musa, Molly, and his wife/photographer.

♥ Heather

Worlds of Flavor!

7 Nov

Last week school was shut down for the annual Worlds of Flavor conference.  You can learn more about that here.  Basically, every year our school invites 60 badass chefs from around the world to show off their skills to other leading chefs, foodservice industry pros, experts, writers and foodies.  Being around hundreds of the hospitality elite for a week is definitely one of the perks of going to such a great school. 🙂

So, this year’s theme was World Causal.  I was on team Mediterranean, working on the hot side for the popular London TV personality/cookbook author and exec chef of Quince restaurant in London, Chef Silvena Rowe.  I’m not going to lie, it was hard work.  There were many stressful moments (like, “holy ish what do anise flowers even look like” as I’m searching the schools garden… or realizing that I hadn’t eaten in 48 hours), but in the end it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I worked almost 60 hours in five days, drank way too much coffee, made beautiful and delish food on the hotside (who knew!), and learned important lessons from inspiring and well established chefs.  You know that song, “I am woman, hear me raaawwwrrr”? Well, I sang that to myself many, many times.

I didn’t get any pictures with the chef I was under or all the food we made, which makes me really sad.  Her recipes are amazing.  Straightforward, modern Turkish food for posh Londoners, she truly keeps the integrity of her ingredients.  Although I’ve seen TV chefs around campus, this was the first time I’ve actually worked under one.  Her passion was infectious.  I’ve always found it difficult to talk about my own food.  Mostly because I get nervous, or embarrassed and always have that worry that they’re not going to like my food as much as I may. But this woman, sheeessshhh.  She can sell it and talk to a crowd!   In her demos she would take a bite of food (that I made, btw 🙂 ) and say, “I really wish you could try this because my recipe makes the best lamb you will ever have”.  And it’s true, it was delish.

Oh yeah, I have an open invite to London when I graduate too.  Which is pretty awesome and made the whole experience 100 times more worth it.  Obviously.

Here’s some photos of the conference…

“Surf and Turf”, made for the first seminar, “…Flavors from Turkey and Greece to Lebanon and Syria”.

Chef had me go up on stage with her to plate/cook the dishes while she talked about them.  She only had 8 min, so I did most of the cooking/prep ahead of time.  There were over 100 people in the audience.  100 very, very important people.  Dear Jesus, my hand was shaking!

Minced veal, veal spare rib and king prawn kabobs (we didn’t skewer them), served with oregano za’atar and a fennel, pink radish, red onion, pomegranate and flower salad.

“Orange and Orange Blossom Baklava” served with Greek yogurt and passion fruit puree.

250 portions for  Friday’s lunch dessert.

Hands down the most amazing baklava I have ever tasted.  This was surreal.

“Ottoman Spice Lamb Cutlets with Grapefruit Za’atar and Tahini and Lemon Sauce”

Made for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar

I’ve prepared meat at home, but doing it professionally is a completely different thing.  My chef gave me a lot of freedom (all responsibility for the recipes) so I manned up and grilled/cooked every single dish!  It was quite empowering.

“Spiced Lamb Rillette with Courgettes and Chile Pesto”

Also for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar.

I marinated the lamb shanks in suzme (Greek yogurt), orange zest, cardamom, baharat and other spices, braised it for seven hours, shredded it, made a terrine and let it sit overnight.  We served it on toasted sourdough and a slightly spicy courgette and chile pest, topped with Chef’s grapefruit za’atar. Amazing.

I didn’t make these, but they were also for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar.

The left and middle are from Chef Ana Sortun, from Oleana.  The right is from Australian Lamb, who sponsored the seminar.

My amiga was on restauranteur/Iron Chef Jose Garces’ team.

They made a “Foie Torchon with a Tomato and Jalapeno Jam” for Saturday’s Marketplace.  The photo doesn’t do the orgasm in my mouth justice.

Oooh la la, my school got cultural… and scandalous!

My friend and I were walking around the Marketplace, tasting everything in sight, when we heard music and saw at least twenty male chefs in awe.

200 apples for apple tart tatin.  7am-1130pm day! AYE!

Anything for my favorite chef instructor!

An egg dish the TA’s made for breakfast on Saturday.  I was huuunnngrryyy and didn’t know when I would have time to eat, so after making a pancake and citrus butter sandwich (and scarfing it down in 3min) I stuffed one of these in my mouth. Sooo gooooood.

 “Raw Beetroot with Goat Cheese, Orange Fillet, Garlic Chips, and Mustard Cress”.

From Chef Doxis Bekris.  My teammate was his assistant… everything he made was so beautiful, but this was the only thing I got a picture of.

Those are all my pictures from the conference! I’m so bummed I didn’t get the pictures of the other things I made. I also made “Rib eye teak with oregano za’atar salt”, 250 “jumbo prawns with Grapefruit and Aleppo chile vinaigrette and grapefruit za’atar”, 250 “roasted king prawns in pomegranate butter and anise flowers”, “watermelon and cherry tomato salad with feta, almond and za’atar crumble”, and “Shawarma Poussin”.  I’m sure you can get any of the recipes in one of her cookbooks.

Also, I’d be happy girl if I never, ever, EVER have to de-shell and de-veign another prawn again.  It wasn’t gross, just annoying.  I’d rather go home smelling like sweetness rather than fish and onions and garlic.  I don’t know how the hot side does it.

♥ Heather

Halloween sugar sculpture!

27 Oct

Halloween is one of my faaavorite holidays!  I seriously trick-or-treated till my senior year of high school.  Don’t judge me. 

It’s the beginning of the holiday season- right after this we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday and theeen Valentine’s!  Love, love, love this time of year:) 

Blown sugar pumpkins (spray painted with a gun then by hand)
Pulled sugar for the tree, fence, vines and stems
Spun sugar for the fog
Handmade spooky crows

♥ Heather

Sugar Sculpture Numero Uno

26 Oct

Take a look at my very first sugar sculpture!  I’m pretty outwardly girly… and, umm inwardly too I suppose haha.  So it may come as a surprise that I’ve always been drawn to very dark artwork.  My girlfriends even call my sketches creepy.  Oh well!

So, we had to do a sculpture that included straw sugar and pulling sugar to make a flower.  Well, unless I’m receiving them, roses aren’t exactly my favorite flower.  In which case it’s always the thought that counts.  I’m also not exactly into muted colors or pastels of any kind.  When you work with sugar, the color gets lighter and lighter the more you pull it… hence the black.

I think black roses are kinda beautiful.  Haunting.  Romantic.  Is that crazy?  I also kinda experimented with the pink on black and was sooo happy it worked out. 

Working with sugar is difficult but exciting.  Everyday I’m so in awe of how simple ingredients- in this case sugar, water, glucose, tartaric acid and some food coloring, can completely morph themselves into different shapes, textures and flavors.

Chef told us that given proper temperatures and ingredients, anyone can make a sculpture using a stencil.  But, the stencil is the stencil maker’s heart.  It’s unoriginal.  He wants us to use our hands, our head, and most of all OUR heart.  I thought that was kinda beautiful also.

Tomorrow we’re doing a blown sugar sculpture.  Sooooo excited for that! I’m going to go for a Halloween/Sleepy Hollow theme.  Cross your fingers it works out!

♥ Heather

Well, it’s about time!

24 Oct

Being back at school has been great.  Except for sitting in eight hour long lectures every day for the past six weeks part.  Grrr not so fun.  Classes were interesting, but the days were super long. By the end we were all pretty much over it and ready to get our hands on some food again.  I think our last teacher felt sorry for us and didn’t complain when she walked into the classroom to find us all wearing construction paper mustaches.  Things got weird. 

Today was our first official day back in the kitchen!  Fiiinaaalllyyy.  It’s amazing how easy it was to wake up for this class, yet every lecture day I pressed the snooze a bajillion times.  

Sorry, roomie.

This class we’re focusing on confectionary art and special occasion cakes.  Today we learned how to blow, pull and make straw sugar.  

Not going to lie, I was a tad bit intimidated by sugar.  I’ve seen contestants on those Food Network competitions fail hundreds of times… and they are PROS.  Ummm, yikes.

We also have a new chef… he is aaaweeesommme.  He made the following sculptures during his demos.  

Hey cutie! 

Pretty flower/nature sculpture

He made it look so super easy, but Dear Jesus I’m praying the sculpture I make tomorrow is 50% as awesome as his!  

I still don’t know what I want to do… mostly because most of my ideas are like, “Oh, I can make a lion sleeping in the sahara” or “I can totally do a frog wearing a top hat and coat, looking through his wine glass and up towards the sun just like the Schramsberg logo”.  

Ummm, yeaaaah. I don’t think so. 

Dear universe, please let me channel simplicity tomorrow in class.

Wine and Love

12 Oct

You know what makes me truly sublimely happy? Wine and love. You know what’s even better? Witnessing love in others. Now that’s deep. A few weeks ago my Brazilian friend’s boyfriend flew all the way from the mid-west to Napa Valley just to see her pretty face.

Let me give you a little back story. This is the most energetic, full of life, FUN, smart, silly, extremely girly girl you’ll ever meet. We both have this rule (a rule that will be carried out in the far, far future, obviously) that our future daughters (fuuuuturrrrre) will be able to wear pants or shorts when they are old enough to buy them for themselves. Until then, it’s super girly/frilly princess dresses, even if they are stained with mud or torn to pieces. My friend probably has a better chance of reinforcing this just because she LIVES this on an almost daily basis. When she’s not in her comfy clothes, you can see her effortlessly walking around in little dresses and high shoes. I don’t know how she does it… it’s probably her Brazilianess.

My friend fell in love with an all-American former Marine from a small town in Pennsylvania. This boy likes to shoot guns, hunt, fish, camp and hike.

She is Posh Spice. He is GI Joe.

He just stole her heart… She stole his… And it’s cuuuute.

Anyways, we went wine tasting at one of my favorite wineries.

There are so many wineries in the valley, but I always find myself here. The tasting room is just breathtaking on a beautiful day.

Oh, and I love the coasters with words of wisdom.

Love these peeps:)

♥ Heather

Karaoke Thursdays!

22 Sep

Thursday karaoke nights are sort of a ritual up here. School is super competitive and strict, so Thursday is our day to let loose. We’re all AM students so that often means getting to the bar at 9pm and leaving right before 11… or staying way too late and regretting it the next day:)

Last week was our very first Thursday back at school, so of course we had to show off our dancing and singing skills to all the new kids! We have class a full 1.5 hours later than usual, so we closed the place down. Here’s a picture of the last Thursday we were all together… five whole months ago!

I miss Chrissy:( She graduated earlier this year… You can’t see her face bc she’s laughing, but she’s in my Facebook profile picture towards the top of the page.

This isn’t everyone… some weren’t 21 yet and I didn’t go to the very, very last Thursday before externship. But, we’re back and everyone is of age! Horray!


*Jordan isn’t in the picture because sometimes she’s a very early sleeper.*

We danced our booties off! I retired from karaoke last October (Shout is a lot harder to sing than you would think) but had no problem singing all my favorite songs… who needs a mic? I also jumped. A lot. Eeeks! 

Can’t wait for many more Thursdays with these ladies!

♥ Heather

Fig and pear picking… slash breaking into the house.

22 Sep

Last weekend my roomie and I decided to throughly investigate our beautiful fruit trees. The homeowner takes very good care of her fruit and we didn’t want to let her down.

After picking bowls and bowls of pears (she picked the tall ones because I’m sorta short) we were poking around the figs, talking about how we couldn’t wait till they were ready when, ah! We found some yummy, squishy, ripe ones!

They were so perfectly sweet and delicious. We ate every single one, but definitely have plans for the rest! I am waiting very, very impatiently for the rest. 

Hurry please!

Oh yeah, somehow during the fig excitement we locked ourselves out of the house. We are the BEST burglars. 

♥ Heather

My last two weeks in a nutshell.

21 Sep

Well now, I feel like these last two weeks have been go go go!  I’m finally sitting down on my couch (in my absolutely adorable new house, btw… we’ll talk about that later) with no homework, studying, work, or appointments to worry about. Now that I can finally breathe, let’s do a little recap…

So, exactly two weeks ago I drove my car aaaaall the way from Orange County back to Napa for school. I left at midnight, which, looking back probably wasn’t the smartest choice I’ve made in my life. Not only was it super dark, but the roads had more trucks than I have ever seen.  Every time I sped past one I prayed it wouldn’t tip over on my little space rocket car! Also, my great gma made me drink two pots… yes, pots, of coffee before I went on the road. It kept me up for the 8 hour drive, but also made me have to stop in almost every gas station along the 5. Not so safe. Sorry mom.

Besides that, the drive was wonderful. I sang at the top of my lungs (it was dark so no one could judge) and had a lot of time to think about the past year and things I want for the next year. We’ll go into depth later.

I passed SF just as the sun was rising (amazing) then drove way too fast for the last hour stretch. Driving into my little town in Napa was such a relief. I was a bit unsure about how I would feel moving back for another year after living in the city for 5 months, but one look at the vineyards, the hot air balloons getting filled, and our single bar made me sooooo psyched for my last year at school!

Okay, so my friend and I sorta rented a place we saw on the internet without ever actually seeing it. SCARY, right? Well, luck was definitely on our side because our house is like a gift from heaven! It’s small, but perfect for the two of us. Totally furnished in the cutest way possible aaaannd has fig, pear, lemon, walnut and plum trees, plus a little grape-vine. I’m going to post pics of my beautiful fruit later!

Let’s see… So, after the eight-hour drive I basically just fell asleep. I got up the next day, unpacked, polished my résumé, went on an interview, drove to SF for Beach Blanket Babylon (that’s a whooole different post), got OFFERED THE JOB!!!! and then went out with some friends as celebration. Theeeennn I got up the next morning, drove to the airport, unpacked my storage unit, drove BACK to Napa, unpacked the car again, took a 15 min nap, got dressed and drove aaaalll the way back to San Fran for a concert, met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in 5 months, went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, got up just in time for the Giants game, saw them kick some major Dodger booty, drove my friend back to the airport, drove aaaalll the way back to Napa and then started school at 7am the next day. Everyday since that weekend my life has been school, work, sleep, repeat.

Ah! I’m exhausted! My body is finally getting used to the schedule (I had three weeks of pure vacation glory, so it took longer than usual) and I’m happy not only to be blogging, but also catching up on my favorite blogs. Plus, I’m stalking Pinterest again. Because that website is just too addicting and I haven’t posted to my boards in way too long.

Here’s a few pictures, but more are definitely on their way!

My friend and I went to the Giants game on 9/11.

Well, if this isn’t proof that I’m a curse to the Dodgers, I don’t know what is. I’ve never been prouder to be a little ball of bad luck:)

It was also the first time I’ve sat on the bay side. So fun!

Brand New concert in SF.

Have loved them for forever, but realized I’m no longer an emo kid at heart. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and dance and be merry! Plus, they played new songs I didn’t really know and not enough old ones. There was a random girl in front of us giving her BF a lap dance, which was hilariously not cute. I mean, Brand New isn’t really mood music, ya know?

(Oh, and I can’t really take Jesse Lacey seriously after he had that video chat sesh early this summer.)

Pears from our tree!

Okay! Going to get some much needed sleep. Goodnight!


Moving to escuela

15 Aug

This was written August 17, 2010… 5 days before I moved to Napa for the very first time. I found it in my drafts and couldn’t believe how much has changed in the past year. I’m pretty sure the reason I never posted it was because I sound like an emotional nutcase haha. I mean, up until this point I was writing about balls, sausage, my hair and how to get out of a ticket. And then things got reaaaaal. If you know me, it’ll be no surprise to hear of my magic skill of hiding out in my bat cave when things get real.

It’s very rare for me to truly share my feelings- both the good ones and the bad. So yeah, I read this and thought, whatevs… I’m so incredibly proud of the young woman I was then. I’m going to put it out there. I left it unedited and unfinished. It’s a first draft, so it may be a bit all over the place. But, it’s honest. 

How do you write a post about something you have been waiting for for so long? Is there a right way to do it? Is there a correct tone I should use? Should I get super personal? Funny? Really, my emotions feel like they are one a super roller coaster right now- not one of those you have probably ridden as a kid at an amusement park, but like the kind they will make in space someday. The kind that will dodge real astroids and blast through solar systems all while praying and hoping and wishing that you wont get eaten by  some giant alien starship or get lost in a black hole. WTF am I even talking about?

I cant decide if I am supremely excited to move just yet. I mean, of course I am, right? Who wouldn’t be? But, why am I also scared? Is it normal to want to cry every few hours and then to want to scream in excitement every hour in between? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do- I don’t want to confuse you and make you think that I am second guessing myself or regretting my decision. I’ve just never done anything like this in my life. I was supposed to be a teacher, or something in education. I was supposed to go back to school and get my masters or work with the special ed. Not do something completely different from anything or anyone around me. It was like a completely 180 career move. Not safe. Not planned. Just on a whim. To please a desire. 

I’m scared to leave. Me. The girl who hates to express any type of weakness or let on that I actually have feelings. I’m being what I’ve sworn I will never allow myself to be- vulnerable. I’m scared to leave my family. I’m scared to come back and see how much I’ve missed since being gone. I’m scared to not be in my siblings life every single day. To not hear my brother’s voice change (haha), to not be there when my little sister has boy problems. To not be able to help them with school work, see their games, get mad at them for being too loud and obnoxious. I’m going to miss making fun of my momma with them. 

OMG. I’m going to miss my mother. She’s crazy, but in the best possible way. Sometimes she forgets our names and then gets angry when we wont tell her. When she’s mad, she forgets English and will yell at us in Spanish. I’m going to miss smiling and asking for a hug while she’s yells at us in a foreign language. I’m going to miss watching Sex in the City, taking naps in her enormous, made for a queen bed, hearing her apologize for not having “voluminous” hair, and slapping her behind every single time she passes by me. Seriously, that things just screams slap me. 

I didn’t hang out with my family a lot these past few months. I thought it would make the move easier. As I sit here, in my boyfriend’s house, watching this beautiful boy about to take the dogs for a walk, I wonder… was it worth it? I’ve spent practically all my free time with him. This love of mine. We’ve been in and out of each other’s lives for years. This beautiful, sweet, strong boy who loves me with all his heart. He always has our best interest at heart. This boy who laughs at my blonde moments, loves that I am sporty challenged, doesn’t mind my innocence or naivety. This boy who actually looks at me, listens to me. I mean, if we could fall in love while having an eight month relationship STATES away, then we can last on opposite sides of the same state, right? 

Eh. I wish I was more scared about school. About the people I’ll meet, the classes, the chefs. But, I’m not. Im truly excited for those things. I cant wait for my future in Napa. I cant wait for new doors to open, to soak in everything around me. I’m just scared about what I am leaving behind.