Mangia! It’s a Sensation
The cold air sent a chill over me as I pulled out the plastic-encased beef from the refrigerator. As I reached into the back of the fridge, the crinkling of paper alerted me to where the Oyster mushrooms were. The small paper bag of mushrooms was much lighter than the one-pound package of meat which hit the counter with a thud.
While cutting the soft white mushrooms, the knife easily went through the stems and caps. The dense meat would not be cut, sliced thinly against the grain to allow ease of chewing, until it was served. I placed the firm, thick sweet potatoes on the shelf in the 350 degree oven to bake for thirty minutes while I set the table. Smooth textured glasses were filled with cool water, glugging out of the gallon jug. Flat plates, flanked by a sharp serrated knife on one side and four-pronged fork on the other, and soft cotton napkins were placed on the cloth placemats. Then I retrieved the large, round pan to sautee the fungus. The cool, smooth metal quickly became hot on the burner, melting the butter into a small pool.
The buttery fragrance called the sliced mushrooms into the pan to be infused with its flavor. The earthy smell mixed with the buttery scent created a new dimension of each. After raising the oven to 400 degrees, with two hands I grabbed the heavy iron pan from the table and put it on the stove. I used scissors to cut the package of meat open, releasing the smell of raw beef into the air, and the shoulder tender plunked onto the grill pan. I centered the raw meat on the pan, shifting it with the sharp point of the scissors. The sweet, almost chocolate-chip- cookie-like aroma of baking sweet potatoes had started to fill the room; I put on potholders to rescue the yams from their fiery furnace. They were placed on the middle of the stovetop for warmth while the meat cooked. The scent combination of sugar and raw beef confused my nostrils for a few seconds as I grabbed the pan with one hand to put it in the oven. This hit the metal oven shelf with a clunk. The meat only needed eight minutes to cook to tender perfection: I set the timer. The mushrooms had developed a thin crispy edge. A serving bowl was filled with them and placed on the table; it clinked as it gently hit the plate next to which it was put.
The bright, multi-colored striped placemats complemented the monotone of the cornflower blue plates and translucent, amber-tinted glasses. The brown-gray of the mushrooms stood out in the cobalt, lemon yellow, and white painted bowl. The dull brown sweet potato peel met with the vivid orange of its inside as I placed one on each plate and sliced them open. The chime of the digital alarm clock on my tablet signaled the grass-fed, grass-finished meat was ready. Once again, I put on potholders and opened the furnace to harvest from it more aromatic nutritional bounty. With some difficulty, I hoisted the pan single-handedly as I shut the door with the other. “Boom,” the door closed quickly, the pan banged down on a burner, and I awkwardly scraped it over the metal coils. Warm air heated my body, the smell of food teased my chemosensory system, as I slowly cut the gray roast into thin slices. The change in color from dull gray outside to pink then red in the middle and the richly toned au jus caused my mouth to salivate as I cut thin slices.
I placed about ten slices on each plate, then scattered a few spoonfuls of mushrooms over the meat and sat down to feast. Chewing a piece of the savory beef confirmed its tenderness and flavor. I cleansed my palate with a swig of water to prepare for the next element. A gentle crunch accompanied the salted butteriness of the earthy mushrooms, proving true to its scent. Again I took a swig of water, swishing it to clean my mouth for a different taste. The sugary orange flesh provided complexity to my dinner. The buttery earthiness over the umami contrasted with intense sweetness pleased my tongue with its variety and depth, reguiring no seasonings.
I’m Making Mac N’ Cheese and No One Can Stop Me
After my trouble and strife, it finally happened. It was the time that I had long awaited for. As the minutes ticked by, it seemed almost like hours as I awaited the paradise laid before me . The familiar aroma filled the air and I stared at my golden prize with awe. Was this truly what I had desired for so long? The combined flavors of golden wonders, gouda, cheddar, American, and mozzarella, all together to make this masterpiece? All while atop perfectly cooked noodles made by my own two hands. It was almost too good to be true. At last the ritual was complete. My stomach rumbled and my mouth watered as I took the first bite.
Colin Miner graduated from SUNY Adirondack, where he studied Business. All the images on this page are his creations, and can be viewed as a slide show if you want to learn more about the ingredients.
Although he did not attend culinary school, to our current students he says, "I would always recommend they attend culinary school if they find themselves enjoying [cooking]. However, they need hands-on workforce training as well."
Colin continues, "I was lucky to have the mentors I was privileged to learn from. There's an importance to the book knowledge that you can't always get in the workforce...but there's a dedication and passion that can only be developed on the job."
Colin began his love affair with food at 13, when he worked at The Inn at Erlowest. Immediately intrigued, he was the pastry chef by 15. He says his involvement with music also helped develop his creativity.
His inventive dishes grab us first visually with bold color, then pull us closer with their promise of texture and taste. Stay tuned for more about other food artists from our school.