A dance film, a birthday and an apricot tart

One of the nice things about working at home these past few days is that it is easy to make your own timetable, making tea, eating at odd hours and listening to endless hours of BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra.  It can also get a little boring, which was why on Monday after finishing a large pile of marking, I headed off to the cinema to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s film of ‘Giselle’.  Well, it was really good to see the production, but the film itself….first, dance films are tricky to get right, as the film maker chooses for us what we look at, so I never enjoy them quite as much as the real thing, where I choose what to look at if that makes sense.  Second, to my way of thinking, this film was a rather odd mix of a recording of a theatre event and something else.  For example, one scene of the ballet was shown as a rehearsal piece in the studio instead of on the stage like the rest of the film, just at random in the middle, totally breaking the atmosphere.  There were also odd clips of the principal dancers in their home cities, and strange clips of them in a field.  I am sure the production team had very valid reasons for this, but they were far from obvious.  To sum up, I liked the dancing, but not the film.

Anyway, I went to my first French pastry and patisserie evening class on Wednesday evening.  It was wonderful to see the teacher, David Cadoret, Sous Pastry Chef at Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel, work the ingredients and hear him talk about the science behind the cooking.

The first part of the 2 hour class (so not a lot of time) was a demonstration on making pâte sucrée, the sweet pastry used for things like fruit tarts. It was interesting to watch the way he worked the pastry and threw the flour onto the rolling surface, which we all tried to practice later.  He then showed us how to make the almond cream that forms the base of the tart that the fruit sits on.  I will post the recipe here after I get it in next week’s class, as it was absolutely delicious.  Like the television programme ‘Blue Peter’, he brought out of the fridge, pastry he had made earlier, which we use to make our tarts with the almond cream.  It was a little disappointing not to make the pastry from scratch, but there was not enough time.

While the tarts were cooking, he demonstrated choux pastry, which we are going to make next week.  He also talked about chocolate, giving us some raw chocolate to taste as well as cocoa butter.  I am not a great chocolate lover, but his enthusiasm and knowledge got me interested, and I am even contemplating going to the chocolate festival this weekend.

Unfortunately, I had completely the wrong shaped box to bring my tart home, so had to cut it in half, hence the picture below..

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Half a tart, with shadow

I learned all sorts of things, such as why glazes are put on fruit tarts (to keep them fresh in a shop window!) and am looking forward to next week.
Today, 5th September is Anton’s birthday.  Many Happy Returns! Orange cupcake and candles thanks to Moore Wilson.
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