Thursday, April 25, 2013

How can there be so much that you don't know? You don't know ...

I want to tell all of you that I'm dominating this kitchen noise, but meat station has been challenging.  I work Friday Saturday Sunday only on meat, and I get my ass kicked those three days.  I haven't had much time to become acquainted with the area or the dishes.  It shows in my performance.  In three weeks on the station:  I've overcooked the executive chef's pork chop, I've had one chef bring me into the office after service to tell me something like, "You need to move faster, man.  This is New York;" and I've had another chef kick me off the station with twenty minutes left of service because my station was such a wreck.  I was banished to peel potatoes, an embarrassing thing.  (I peeled the shit out of those potatoes, though.)  I need a bit more practice with the meat.

I have been told that I was moved to meat because I was killing it on fish.  Also, they say that meat is easier than fish.  So I got that going for me.

We had a bacon challenge the other day.  A chef handed each cook in the kitchen a three inch slab of bacon and said, "Make a dish with this before 10 o'clock.  The winner gets a six pack."  I represented my former kitchen Grange Kitchen and Bar with "roasted chicken, bacon jam, grilled ramps and asparagus, pan sauce."

The chef decided, "Sue, you're disqualified for being too slow.  I'm sorry.  For the rest of you, all the dishes were excellent.  Roy, you're bacon caramel was really good, but I was expecting something more intricate than an ice cream that you didn't make with caramel.  And since, Rob stole his recipe from a restaurant that he used to work at, I'm going to give this one to Jim.  Jim you had a lot of things going on."

Shoot.  As I was plating, the chef said, "I have a feeling you've done this dish at a previous restaurant."  I shouldn't have proudly said, "Oh, yes."  I didn't know it was a bad thing.

Everything is stolen.  Carmel and ice cream?  Roy didn't get flack for ripping off Dairy Queen.  The other dude's dish was "bacon roasted in chili oil, jalapeno, asparagus, bacon powder."  Bacon powder is bacon fat mixed with tapioca maltodextrin.  I don't know where he came up with the idea, but if you google "bacon powder" it has 19 million results.

I'm not upset that I lost.  Okay, I'm really upset that I lost.  Bacon jam gets down, and I don't like losing.  But, man, that judgement was ridiculous. 

Everything is stolen.  You know?

When Avatar came out, millions of people watched it even though it had the same plot as Disney's Pocahontas.  When Pocahontas came out people watched it even though it had the same plot as that time John Smith sailed to the Americas in 1607 and hung with a native lady named Pocahontas.  Do you think John's bros told him that it was awfully cliche of him to be hanging with the exotic, native chick, that it had been passe since Solomon trying to get with the Queen of Sheba?  Do you think the Queen of Sheba would have liked Disney's Pocahontas?  I hope so.  That movie is so fly.  I mean... have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?

The chef was helping Roy brainstorm ideas for his dish.  One of the chef's suggestions was bacon and  Parisian-style gnocchi.  It happens that one of the most popular contemporary cook books,Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, has a recipe for Parisian-style gnocchi.  It's possible that the only reason any one is thinking about Parisian-style gnocchi right now is because of that cookbook.  We made it at my former restaurant.  I just ate it the other night at a friends house.  Do you think the chef has read Keller's book?  Do you think the chef is aware of Keller's influence?  Do you think Keller is aware of a gnocchi recipe in Everyday Cooking With Jacques Pepin from thirty years agoHow much do you think Pepin digs bacon jam?  I... just... think that the rainstorm and the river are my brother, the heron and the otter are my friends, and we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.
Everything comes from somewhere else whether the person making it knows it or not.  Oh yes, bacon jam is a more specific recipe than Parisian-style gnocchi.  The whole dish that I made was a Grange dish.  If you gave my former Grange chef a piece of bacon and told him to make a dish with it, I'll bet he would decide something like, "Bacon jam will impress these guys.  I'll make some bacon jam, put it on top of a meat, throw some seasonal vegetables in there, and boom.  I'll win."  And that's exactly what I thought.  I think my former chef would be proud.  I learned that type of meat-centric, simple, seasonal cooking from him.  That's why I worked there.  Experience.  Influence.  Now that I've worked at Nougatine, if somebody handed me some blackberries, I might juice the hell out of them and throw some yuzu in there, and Jean George would smile. He might even taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth, roll in all the riches all around him, and for once, never wonder what they're worth.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Post 101

This is the 101st post for 3300 Miles to Bliss.  To commemorate the occasion, I thought that it might be nice to take a retrospective look, analyze some stats, give a state of the union.

The blog was two years old this last February.  I live in Brooklyn.

Okay, great.  Now, let's look at some stats.   We've had 10865 views as I'm writing this, and that's solidly mediocre for two years.

906 of the views have come from people stumbling across this page:

So that's nice.  People love taking polls.  Stuie's uncle told us that.  Perhaps I'll have some more.  What do you think? (See what I did there?)

96 of our views have been provided by the Russian search engine  I don't really know why that is.  However, it is a fact that the dude walking in between Stuie and I in the blog's banner picture has grandparents from Russia.  I'll keep him there.  Keep viewing the page comrades, and please encourage North Korea to simmer down. 

According to the stats, about 100 people have arrived at the blog by searching keywords directly pertaining to the blogs title.  5 people have arrived at the blog by searching "dad isn't keeping."  I figure that I lost five potential blog fans when they clicked on my url but found no information on how to keep dads fresh.  Now, to meet the demand, I will supply what information I have on the subject.


Your pops is losing that skip in his step?  Dad has a bit of salt in his pepper?    Pappy doesn't strap the roller skates on as much as he used to?  Your old man is getting a bit too comfortable with his title? Tu padre aparece mas como una chihuahua que un joven?  The governor needs a few more swings to chop down that tree?  You find that your progenitor dozes off when he hears too many words like progenitor?  The author of your family has lost some prolificacy?  The old seed sower doesn't seem to walk the fields as much as he used to?  Pa's gettin' old?  And you're un-familia how to deal with the increasingly elderly condition of your paterfamilias?  Well, do I have an answer for you!

After my sister and I discovered the consequences of time's inevitability on our father, we tried everything to help preserve his freshness:  the classic treatments--mud baths, meditation, yoga, saunas, cryogenics, plasma replacement; the creams--radish, date, pickle, spf, bourbon, cat dander, skittle; the dietary supplemants--radish, date, pickle, spf, bourbon, cat dander, skittle; the periphery treatments--plastic wrap, refrigeration, the lima bean, polka.  But nothing worked!


Also, some of the treatments, as invasive as they as are, were not received well by our subject.  Apparently people don't take kindly to being pounced on by four handfuls of cat dander cream as soon as they arrive home from work.

Finally, we had the epiphany that would keep pop as fresh and bouncy as the day that we met him.  Lucky for us, we discovered the treatment relatively early on, and it's proven to be supremely effective.  You can see the results for yourself.  People say to my sister and I all the time, "Is that you're dad or a young Justin Bieber?"  Then they are told to stop leaning on the counter.

We decided to treat him much as we would treat freshly picked garden chives.  Because what do freshly picked garden chives and fathers have in common?

Dad isn't keeping?  Wrap him in a moist cloth each night and put him in a temperate spot in the ice box.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pete, my neigbor

Did I tell you about Pete?  That guy who gave me a ride from Michigan to New York?

Turns out, he's my neighbor.

I was on my way to a wine store to pick up a bottle for a dinner, walking down streets that I hadn't explored.  Not ten minutes after I left my home, I hear my name called.  I turned around, and hallelujah.  It was Pete, barefoot in front of his open apartment door, shouting and waving and smiling at me.  He was practicing guitar in his living room and saw me walking.  He invited me inside.

Pete looked scruffy compared to the clean-shaven driving face he once had.  He told me why he had a beard while he gave me a quick tour of his abode.  He was avoiding fluorine, hadn't showered in forty-seven days or something, only drank filtered water.  He said that he feels great because of it.  He believed that he was forming more articulate sentences and making better music.  That's so good.  He didn't smell all that great, but you're running the risk. 

Peter.  I'm happy to have a neighbor.  I didn't stay long because I had to get to that dinner.  Stop by anytime, he said.  We said goodbye, and before I opened the door Pete was strumming his guitar.  I turned to close the door, and I saw him strumming, smiling and looking at me like he really had something going with those strings and only he and I knew it.  I left him strumming and swaying and bouncing, getting stinky with that guitar. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Grown Up Choices

Yesterday, the chef told me that my hat was dirty.  He said that I needed to bleach it.

I guess the hat thing is news.  Once the chefs realize that a cook is going to stick around for a while and not quit after the first few days, the cook is presented a white beret.  It looks ridiculous, but it fits better than the paper hats.  The cooks upstairs wear the tall hats.

My hat was dirty.  This presents a challenge in that I don't own bleach, and I've never bleached an article of clothing.  After I bought some bleach today, I realized that I didn't have any containers to hold it and my hat.  The only thing that I had that could serve the purpose was a plastic ice cream container.  I bought the ice cream when I bought the bleach.  The next challenge was that the container was filled with ice cream.  I did the sensible thing.

Now, my hat is soaking in bleach.