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    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    Le Cordon Bleu School in Wellington - Birthday Treat

    Growing Older sometimes doesn't have a lot going for it… but in amongst the saggy body, greying hair, joints that need replacing and all that sort of things…There are some very pleasant surprises.
    I certainly got one for my 3 score and 10th birthday. Dear friend Lana, suggested to a group of friends and family that they contributed to a fund, which took me, along with Lana to hometown Wellington, to partake in a Cordon Bleu  (Sometimes lovingly referred to as Gordon Blue) one day course. It featured Sauces, Classic and Modern.
    What a great present, mind you, I also received other wonderful gifts. All sorts of beautiful creams, pedicures, foot massage, hair treatments, vouchers, earrings, scarves. wine, Champagne.
    Well blessed
    So first we found a Nice Holiday Retreat for Dale at the St Andrews Retirement Village in Glendowie. Settled him in, packed bags and off we went.

    Valet parking at the Carpark, off to Koru Lounge, some bubbles, light meal. Seated at the front of the plane.
    Nothing but the best

    Of course it is not in our DNA, to just go and do one thing, no,no, no, we filled in every possible moment.
    First we were picked up by Tony Stevens, who kindly dropped us at the Hotel.
    We checked in.
    Waiting in the room, Chocolates and a card from the Hotel, wishing me a Happy birthday.

    Dear Tony returned to take us back their house, where the lovely Carol was waiting with drinks, dinner and great fun.

    Fresh fish, with a delicious dessert. Not together of course!

    Of course some tasty liqueur to finish us off, not literally thank God, big day ahead.
    What a great start.
    After a tasty breakfast we headed off to Le Cordon Bleu School
    First we were introduced to our Chef Tutors for the day. Chef Paul Dicken from the UK and Chef Francis Motta from La Belle France
     So off to our work stations, felt like a real student Chef.
    We needed to be in groups of two. Ms Lana setting up, with Chris, her partner for the day
    The plan was to make basic Primary sauces, which are the base for so many other delicious sauces, to enhance your meal.
    First up, we made Chicken Stock, Chef Paul demonstrated.
    We went back to our work stations and all the ingredients were waiting for us
    New tip for me, normally I would just chuck the bones into the pot. No, not in Cordon Bleu Kitchen...first we cut off any excess fat,
    then we removed any innards from the bones...then the carcasses go into a bowl of running water and remove any blood. Helps to make a nice clear stock
    For the chicken stock, they keep the vegetables fairly large. I liked the way the leek was folded up and tied with string, plus a tidy little bouquet garnie
    Interestingly enough no salt added, till the end. Also very important for a nice clear stock.
    Skim, skim, skim as it simmers away

    Next we made Beef stock,which interestingly enough, contained a couple of pigs trotters, this provides the gelatinous compound. They provided us with the bones, already roasted for extra flavour and colour.
    The vegetables for the beef stock were chopped into smaller cubes. Once again, skim. skim and simmer for a couple of hours

    Fellow students working away
    Then still on basic primary sauces, Bechamel, which of course segues into Mornay sauce, with the addition of a tasty cheese...if I am making Lasagne or Moussaka, I usual add an egg yolk for extra richness and puffs up nicely. The twist to this...Chef Francis quickly whipped up a Sabayon, with egg yolks and water.
    What a great idea the sauce was very light and fluffy and very tasty, We popped a cartouche over to stop skin developing.
    Then we started to make sauces, which were based on the stocks
    First up a Sauce Bordelaise which contained poached bone marrow.A very rich Red wine reduction, enriched with butter...perfect to serve with lamb or beef
    Next, below, a Sage and Orange Emulsion Sauce, which was whipped up, and the froth spooned over fish.
    At a later date I will make this and blog the recipe.
     Frothing the light Fantastic
    Getting close to lunch time. We were about to make our own lunch
    Duck A L'Orange. Once again the Chef demonstrated and off we went to our work stations, to cook the duck and the very delicious orange sauce.
    The point of difference in this sauce. A Gastrique. First we need to julienne, blanch and macerate the zest in Cointreau, beautiful
    Below: Nice little Julienne I thought,
    Actually they used Oranges and Lemons, so really it's a citrus sauce, not just Orange 

    The Gastrique: First caramelize sugar, red wine vinegar,  deglaze with citrus juice.
    This is added to reduced duck stock, carry on reducing, pass through a sieve, add butter and the macerated zest.

    Cook the duck breast, rest and slice on the diagonal
    Spoon over the divine sauce
    Meanwhile, while we were beavering away in the main kitchen, in the background, all sorts of things were going on. Whole Snapper and Lamb Legs, were in the ovens, roasting away, eggs being poached, all that so that we could smother them with the appropriate sauces, made by our own fair hands.
    As well as the Chefs, we had 4 helpers, who are students at the school. They were able to assist us when we were flumoxed.
    So we all left the kitchen, to an area out in the hall, tables were set up with big bowls of salad, to go with our meat. Wouldn't want to be a vegetarian in this kitchen. In fact according to French Chef Francis, vegetarians are not normal, ha ha.
    The Chefs, earning their keep .
    A good use of the Mornay Sauce, smother poached eggs with it.
    After I had eaten my duck, I went back for seconds.
    Lamb with Bordelaise Sauce and Snapper with the Sage and Orange Emulsion
    After lunch, we made a cream for Tiramisu,  A quick version, all mixed up in a syphon... Reminiscent of the Whipped Cream in a can, but much nicer, flavoured with Amaretto and Rum. Yum
    Then, Creme Anglaise, Beurre Blanc  finishing off with 2 couli's
    One made with Fennel and Parsley
    Once again, perfect for fish or chicken
    Fabulous Deep Green
    While Chef Paul was working on the Vegetable Coulis...
    Chef Francis worked on a Raspberry version
    By this time it was 4.30 and time to pack up.
    What a fabulous day.
    It really was so special.
    Just got some final photos of people we spent the day with
    Lana and her partner Chris
    Shelly my partner with Moi, in case you didn't know!
    And our Chefs Paul and Francis Thanks to you both, we learnt heaps

    But of course the day wasn't finished yet. We walked back to our hotel, had a shower, a rest, then back onto Shank's Pony and in moments. we arrived at The apartment of Barbara and Terry.
    They were hosting an evening for us, so we could catch up with more dear friends. Rocky and Jeannie, Gerry, Sharon and Linda.
    Plenty of drinks, great pizza, wonderful conversation, what a perfect end to our day

    But wait there is more.
    After a good night's sleep, back down to Breakfast again. Our friend Andy Yavasis arrived and picked us up. Another Grand Tour of the Wellington Southern Bays. he is building a house in Lyall Bay.
    This amazing wild and windy coast, Looking good on Sunday, but can get totally out of control Magnificent.
    Great view from Andy's house.
     Tour guide Andy
    We had coffee at Elements in Lyall Bay, a very busy little cafe.
    Next on the menu, Yum Char with our friend Trishie and her work mate Bronwyn .
    Couple of wines and some Yummy Chinese food, all set up for the next move
    Te Papa. Wellington's Museum. As luck would have it they were holding an exhibition,
    celebrating Air New Zealand's 75th Jubilee
    It was so well done. You entered on a runway

    Lana flew for Air NZ for many years, many years ago.
    And there she is, young and gorgeous
    They even changed the doors to the lift to resemble an aircraft door
    Memories for Lana,
    "Flight attendants, please prepare doors for landing, Thank you".

    So Tour completed, we grabbed a cab to Trishie's house in Breaker Bay. Once again on that wonderful coastal road.
    More wine, cheese
    Then, Wellington turned on a beautiful Double Rainbow, just for us
    So I want to thank all my superb friends for making this happen.
    I will never forget it
    As it turns out, now it is blogged. Up there in the cyberspace, forever.

    Dale wasn't too lonely, he had friends

    Lovely to be at home with him now though. Dale not the Pukeko!

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