This post is an installment from the ongoing Dessert FourPlay project, in which I prepare and write about all of the desserts in Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef by Johnny Iuzzini. For more on this project, click here.
I just have to reiterate, it’s so good to be back. Back to blogging (although still working through the issues that have caused all the pictures from the past six months to go missing), and also, back to Brooklyn, where I’m picking up shifts at my beloved Brooklyn restaurant while I look for my next internship opportunity. I’m delighted to report that for the first time, I’m getting paid for the work that I’m doing. Officially, one year after leaving my desk job and almost one year after starting at the French Culinary Institute, I’m cooking “professionally”.
It’s reassuring that there are some constants shared by my two restaurants so far, as the chefs at both the ritzy, Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant and the humble Brooklyn kitchen grabbed onto the big summer season opener, rhubarb, with gusto. (At the former, a certain very famous executive chef burst into the pastry kitchen one morning and demanded “zee sexy rhubarb!” for a spring photoshoot – these are the moments to which we unpaid students cling) And while I’ve waited until it was almost too late in the waning rhubarb season, I couldn’t resist the urge to pay homage to the vegetable I’ve come to love as one of the greatest pastry ingredients of all time.
There are several rhubarb recipes in the book, but I selected this one because of the unique ways it showcases the rhubarb, first as a vehicle for acidity and sweetness in the form of a pickle, and also a mellow version, full of earthy wine-poached flavors. The best thing for me about both kinds was the pleasant opportunity to eat rhubarb nearly raw and still crispy.