第五天：Then make sure you can handle standing for 12 hours straight.
The time had come. It was the moment I had been waiting for my entire life. I held my breath as I knocked on Susan’s door, so close to learning the master’s skills of the chocolate way. As the door opened, light flooded the hallway and blinded my eyes. Susan illuminated me with her presence as she spoke: “Greetings, Kelly. Let us begin.”
Dramatic. Moving on.
Saturday was production day. If you were wondering, this is what I originally signed up for. Story time: Back in September/October, I was in the midst of a first semester Sophomore Slump. I was mainly frustrated about how everyone at Harvard seemed to have some sort of passion, whereas I felt that I had none. I was a swimmer at the time, yes, but I was never passionate about the sport. It was just something I was good at. I was jealous of other swimmers who really loved swimming, jealous of people who procrastinated for hours searching for a certain type of music, jealous of people who loved their work.
Anyways, before this becomes pity-time…I was eating chocolate at my desk (typical) and I came across an article in the Harvard Magazine featuring Sôcôla. The moment I read that they had bacon truffles, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I don’t usually order chocolate, but for some reason I felt I couldn’t miss out on the experience. So I got my assortment box, was pleasantly surprised, and fell absolutely in love with the Jasmine Tea. I brought some of the chocolates to a HAPA meeting to share (East-West fusion, duh) and I jokingly brought up the idea of learning to make truffles from them. Right as I said it, I thought: Wait. What the hell, I should do this. I love this stuff.
So I emailed Susan, asking for a one-week stint in her kitchen, and was extremely surprised by the speedy response I got from her the next day. She said I wouldn’t get much out of a one week experience, but if I interned for 2+ months…
And look where I am now.
By the end, I couldn’t feel my feet or legs, Susan and I may or may not have made a few jokes about child labor (I’m 20, don’t worry), and I couldn’t speak English anymore (a sure sign of tired delusion). But the experience was sweet. 72% bittersweet.
After arriving at her apartment at 9 in the morning, Susan drove me down to South San Francisco where the kitchen is located. Wendy had already prepared the ganaches the night before, so Susan and Jessica (someone who also works for Sôcôla) were in charge of covering the ganaches with melted chocolate in order to create the shell. As a baby chocolatier, I was in charge of garnishing the truffles, cutting the chocolates, labeling, and packaging.
The best part was the atmosphere. A group of six of us were working away with music blasting in the background (Tron music included – Susan’s a fan). Susan had crazy energy as usual and her many aliases kept us entertained (more potentially on this later…) There were many memorable moments including a very typical silly Kelly-moment when Jessica and I had a complete misunderstanding about “White Food”. She was talking about the color about her lunch, and I was talking about…the race. I promise I’m not racist.
Anyways, a little less conversation and a little more action please:
Susan cooling the melted chocolate to the right temperature. If the chocolate isn’t at the right temperature, it will not be “tempered” correctly. The truffles will end up having weird streaks in their coating.
After Jessica spread out a layer of chocolate on the ganache.
Dropping French Chicory Grounds onto the Vietnamese Coffee truffles.
It was really hard trying to put only 3-4 pieces of Hawaiian sea salt on the “Burnt Baby Burnt” truffles.
A sea of Jasmine Tea truffles (my fave flavor).
After production ended at 9 pm, the six of us returned with sore backs to Susan’s apartment in The Mission and made Kimchi fried rice (yes, Susan made us stand more). The food was absolutely delicious (and this is coming from a Korean) and we slowly began our recuperation.
Susan’s friend (who is also called Susan) cooked omeletes that were paper thin. SUPAH KOOL.
I headed home around midnight and Jessica thankfully drove me because I was dead tired, and SF isn’t exactly the most safe place.Susan asked me right before I left: “So, you still like being a chocolatier?” My response: “Uh, it’s still a yes. I’m just going to appreciate every truffle I eat a lot, lot much more.” Apparently they’ve had 19+ hour production days around holidays like Christmas or Easter.
There you go kids. An introduction to how you make 2,500 truffles by hand.
Daily Nutrition Report
- Breakfast = a morning bun & a gougère from Tartine Bakery. I was brought to this place thanks to the 7×7 SF Magazine’s best eats. Again, disappointed. I didn’t trust my stomach. I’m not a big fan of pastries, especially ones doused in white sugar (which was what the morning bun was – a glorified cinnamon bun with orange cinnamon sugar). I wished I had gotten the savory olive bread instead. Never again will I trust the masses. The gougère was intriguing: peppery, cheesy, slightly oily, a French pastry with a hint of thyme. Conclusion? Go to the recommended places, but get what you want if you aren’t feeling it.
- Lunch = fresh ganache. Possibly the best thing ever.
- Dinner = Kimchi Fried Rice baby
Lesson of the Day
I have never appreciated the care and love that goes into truffles this much before. Love your chocolate to no end.