Fiery feast-A A +A
Friday, October 12, 2012
A FIERY feast! Before the mind runs wild, it is really nothing like an intense dining with fire moving all around. Instead, it is the Academy of International Culinary Arts (AICA) students going through their Hell Week, now on its eighth year.
Far from its smoldering connotation, Hell Week is explained by AICA culinary programs director Johann Young as a whole week of restaurant assimilation thus, erasing the image of grilling culinary students literally, more so in the figurative sense.
Now, if anyone thinks it sounds mighty scary, then wait until Young shares that it used to be called “Week of Hell.” Fortunately the tag was changed as they thought it “sounded too much already.” If anything, that was a consideration well-made there.
“It’s (called) Hell Week but it’s really a fun experience,” shares Young, which should speak for both students and guests enjoying the dishes prepared in line with this year’s theme: Different American Cuisines.
Challenges begina week prior to Hell Week, when students plan out menus and consult with guiding mentor chefs.
On Monday, everyone started preparing for the following days. Tuesday featured burgers and sandwiches; Wednesday was for Texas-Mexican dishes; Thursday highlighted California Chic degustation; and Friday held surprise dishes derived from the week’s leftovers.
Tex-Mex Wednesday was considered media day and before anything was decided from the menu, a bowl of tasty chips complimented with salsa and guacamole was served at every table.
For starters, two options were up for grabs. One was the “Pozole Verde,” made mainly of chicken breast chopped to bite size pieces afloat a flavorsome soup of which, to spice things up, were chilies, cilantro and tomatillos as garnish.
Next was the “Enselada de Camarones” that looks—as interesting as it sounds—like a scrumptious nest of cabbage, avocado, red onion, tomato, avocado crema, corn tostada and shrimp well-hidden beneath it all.
For the main course, side dishes were to be chosen between Mexican corn or rice, and refried beans, though everyone seemed to suggest the former was more apt to really imbibe the mood of the occasion.
“Baja Fish Tacos” was one of the choices, which was made of a supple piece of parrot fish showered with cabbage slaw, jalapeno ranch dressing, pico de gallo and calamansi for added tang.
Another pick was a plate of two “Beef Flautas,” each of which was a meaty roll of flour tortillas stuffed with braised beef topped with savory mix of guacamole and cumin crema.
For dessert, still two options were on hand. One was the “Tres Leches Cake” that can easily be mistaken as leche flan from afar. Up close, it was a yellow cake put in with condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream and homemade dulce de leche, all topped with whip cream to ultimate sweetness.
Second, and quite a mouthful name, was the “Chocolate y Fresa Ice Cream Sanwiches.” Regardless of the complicated term, it is made of vanilla ice cream with tiny strawberry bits and cinnamon in between toothsome chocolate pizelles shaped like snowflakes.
All these delish fares were intended to be washed down with no less than delectable refreshment and that was the “Alfresca Agua” flaunting some frozen watermelon chunks.
Still not sure what a fiery feast is? Feel free to read this story again.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2012.