It’s hard to believe that I recently passed the one-month mark, as an employee, at Tartine. Now that I’ve been training on the morning bake shift for awhile, the time came for me to be responsible for my side of the shift (on both the scone side and the quiche side) on my own. A week ago Sunday, I pretty much handled the scone side alone, and the last two days I handled first the quiche side and then the scone side by myself.
The wonderful thing about Tartine is that no one – new or old – is ever truly alone. If you need a helping hand, there’s one there for you. It might be your partner on the morning bake team, or it could be someone on a different shift, like cakes or cookies. It’s often just a simple request to turn off a mixer, rotate a pan in the oven, or something simple like that. But when you’re juggling two or three or four tasks, having that third hand can make all the difference.
I’ve been able to take a deep enough breath lately during work to actually step back and reflect on what I’m doing – sometimes in the moment! It wasn’t like that before. I’m still not efficient enough with my time or my hands, but I’m getting there. The lemon cream tarts get poured a bit faster, the whip cream gets quenelled a bit smoother, and so on.
What’s really cool about the lemon cream tarts is that I’ve now worked on all components of it. The sweet, cookie-like shell (crust) is something I’ve worked on from the beginning, in the Shells shift. Separately, I made the lemon cream filling for a few weeks when I subbed on the Cream Tarts. Now, working on Morning Bake, I fill the tart shells with the lemon cream, whip the cream, and top the tarts. Love the full circle!
Meanwhile, after making gougeres mostly without any issues for most of my time on morning bake, I had two batches go completely sour a week or so ago. There was some head-scratching as to what it might have been – the culprits narrowed down to either undercooking the dough (choux pastry) on the stove or how I scooped it. With some additional eyes watching the next morning, I was happy to turn out a better batch. They were a little smaller than they should have been, but I was just happy they didn’t bake up all misshapen! Yesterday, I was back on gougeres and turned out a very good batch. Round, darkly golden, and the proper size. I loved it!
Some days, during morning bake, there’s time for someone to quickly throw together a quick breakfast for us as we work. B made this delicious treat for us, and the fresh peaches were awesome. Meanwhile, for a few days, M was making us fresh fruit-and-yogurt smoothies. Both great options!
I’m pretty used to the little nicks and bruises and burns I get from the bustling kitchen. But having my finger slip while slicing cucumbers on a mandolin was the first bigger injury. Not terrible, fortunately, but a warning. Forty-eight hours later, the pinky next to it fell victim to the ridged metal cutter on the plastic wrap box. Not fun and not terribly easy to work with finger cots covering up two fingers. But I managed!
Then there are the extra curricular activities. One of our bread bakers has experience making pasta, and a few of us gathered after work in the kitchen to learn a variety of shaping techniques from him. This simple dough is just semolina flour, water and salt, but we turned it into a variety of fun shapes and sizes.
Meanwhile, I continue to find myself having fun adventures in San Francisco – on my own, with local friends, and with friends visiting from out of town. I’m finding it hard to beat the living here in San Francisco!
On my open afternoons and my days off, there’s plenty to see and do and eat in this great city. I’ve been trying to make the most of it:
This Back to the Future experience was so cool. An audience clearly mixed with people who grew up with the film (like me), people who’d never seen it (often those same people’s children) and everyone in between. There was applause throughout the movie, which was fun and funny. And having Alan Silvestri, the score’s composer, on hand to introduce the event and close it out, was a special treat.
It’s been a busy July. Can you believe August is just around the corner? I certainly can’t! Where has the time gone? And get ready for a monumental post tomorrow. It’s a big day!