Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The end of a time

Well, seven months later, and I am deciding to hang up my hat at the American Bistro and move on to other things in life. Four 15+ shifts a week is becoming too much. That is my main reason. Secondary reasons include (but are not limited to) lack of responsibility, poor politics, and (most important) I have hit a wall in my learning there. I haven't picked up anything new in months. And since I'm not hanging around for the great pay *sarcasm of course*, or the nice hours, everything that once motivated me has fled into the twilight into the end of a (once new, now old) day. I will sleep for the evening and find what comes tomorrow.

And there are things planned for the sunrise, believe me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Monday Meeting

Well now that I no longer have to throw pies I get a few nights off this week. I'm so very happy. I plan on taking the time to research. Research what? Well food, of course. This upcoming Monday there is a meeting with the sous chef, myself, and another named Ben. We are going to talk about a seasonal menu change. There will be much brainstorming and decision making. I have a lot of work to do before then. I want to go in prepared, contribute something to the process. I'm more than a bit nervous to be honest, I want to do this right.

Any thoughts are welcome.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blue Sky

Last week I purchased a bike that is nine-tenths out of my price range. I have found that price works as a great motivator for myself. I have been very good at riding all the way across town to go to my day job, biking halfway back at one of the two restaurants I work at in the evenings, and then having a nice ride home after cleanup. Saturday I was really hoping for a chance to head up on a trail with my friend J, see the 'mountain' part of my new mountain bike. However, just like the previous two weekends, it rained on my only two mornings off. No blue skys for me.

Hopefully this week I will get to test my mountaineer skills, as I believe last Saturday night was my last night throwing dough and folding calzones. This means that for the first time in two months I will get a few nights off a week; if I'm lucky maybe even a whole day! Then what will I do with myself?

Oh I know what I'll do with myself. I will practice making terrines (thank you Charcuterie). I will attempt David Bouleys version of strudel (thank you East of Paris). I will finally finish 1984 and slowly recover from my depression/what-the-worlds-come-to syndrome (thank you Orwell??). I will try to grow more, sleep less, absorb knowledge, play games, savor time off for what it is.

I used what little time off I had Saturday morning (since I wasn't biking) to plant some herbs on my little apartment balcony. As of now I have three pots of basil, two pots of chives, a little cilantro, spearmint, and thyme. Hopefully they will grow and I can use my own goods for the summer. I do wish I had space for a garden so I could taste literal fruits of my labor (and vegetables of my labor, as it were).

Speaking of labor, last night at the Bistro involved me being third guy. And it was a slow Sunday, which means we get to perform the sacred ritual of the "Deep Clean". Which means we pick something and we scrub the hell out of it. I decided to tear apart our walk in. With a stainless steel scrubby in hand, and with the assistance of a rag and a soup container of soapy water, I proceeded to scrub every corner. I was sure to break up any protein leakages, lettuce scraps, apple peels, whole lemons, chard stems, stock spills, and pickle juice I could find. In the end I was left with a cleaner, bright powder-coated-white walk in, neatly organized and spotless.

Motivation is a funny thing. What is it that changes a person from one day not having the gusto to vacuum a living room, and the next happily tearing apart shelf after shelf to clean something that will probably return to the existing dirty shape in a few weeks? The situation and ones company probably has a lot to do with it. I wish I could shape my own motivation about things which I'm not very motivated about (ex - folding laundry). Maybe if I hide a pomegranate at the bottom of the basket I would be more prone to finish folding my clothes.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Two days later

Well I've been trying to update here for a couple days but the damn thing has been down each time I try. Not like I mind a's a free service that takes quite a bit of infrastructure I'm sure. But I do mind a little...a good friend and I have something in the works. Hopefully soon we can make it flourish. And then you will see me move to a new home, a better home (I hope). A home that costs a little money so if something breaks I will have reason to bitch about it.

Last night I had to confess to the owner of the pizzeria that I could no longer handle it all. Five doubles a week, the days that aren't doubles are night shifts leaving me with an occasional Monday evening off and a few hours Saturday and Sunday morning. That gives me about enough time to go the farmers market and then let everything fade to supermarket quality as it sits on my shelf and grows soft/hard/stale/fur.

So hopefully soon, I will be able to fade away from a third job and recover a little social life. And (more importantly) stay married. Included in my lofty goals: maintain relationships over culinary endeavors. If one statistic gnaws at the heels of chefs more than alcoholism it would be divorce/breakups/what have you. Without people in your life, well, then you're just living for yourself. While this suits many life-living individuals on this's not my cup of tea.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Farmers Market

The farmers market here is like having sex in public. All I want is a little bit of space and time to savor the flavors of the moment, perhaps quietly browse in my own little world, but I can't fucking concentrate on anything for more than five seconds without someone prodding or staring or selling. It's a madhouse here, and for some reason the powers that be decided that for the four months out of the year that the farmers market is available, we can only have it one day a week. So on top of the absolute elbow to elbow food-conscious shoppers, there is some bible thumper, pro-life, pro-choice, political agenda peddler on every corner further polluting this endeavor. All I wanted was some more beets.

Instead I came home with some butter and cheese. I wonder if places like San Francisco have the same problem. I have been to Pike's Place in Seattle multiple times, and I don't remember any events so distasteful - even though it is twenty five times the size of my current residence. If for some reason I can't make it to the market at eight in the morning (before the pandemonium starts), I'm not going anymore.

On top of that I have been pretty sick for a few days now. On one hand it's nice because I actually got a couple days off. The catch 22 of course being that I feel to crappy to actually do anything productive.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Goodbye to Winter (Finally)

Well this year it only took until June for what I can only hope is the end of winter. Around the 12th of May I remember thinking the same thoughts, but my thoughts were proven false as the two consecutive weekends were in the low forties with a cold rain drizzling on the valley. But today, today is glorious and the weather shows no sign of letting up.

I have been weighed down with some sort of bronchial/throat/fever cold thing. Gratefully I got last night off, a present I was able to take full advantage of with seventeen hours of sleep. I awoke this morning a little groggy but the fever was gone as was most of the sore throat. For now we will assume it was a disease of the twenty-four hour variety.

Tonight I will be filling in at the Bistro. The pizzeria gave me the night off again, but the other place needs a hand so I will step in and help out. I keep hoping for a menu change soon. The sunshine is no place for braised swiss chard. But, alas, it is not my restaurant.

Speaking of wintery food, last weekend was my final goodbye to the season. I put together a roasted root vegetable soup - my favorite part being the slow roasted Vidalia onions. Can you go
wrong with these?

Accompanying this soup was a nice little pasta I whipped up. Pasta really is the perfect dinner party food. As long as you use half a brain when working with the ingredients it is really difficult to screw it up. Even with the wrong ingredients really...I am fairly certain one could incorporate pasta, strawberry ice cream, and capers and the result would be edible. Dare I say the result would be good. But perhaps that is too far.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Finally, a day off

Well between traveling to a graduation and three jobs, a day off feels great. Last night my friend at the pizza shop threw a celebratory one-week party. His sisters' mother-in-law, or some similar barely-family member, donated five hundred dollars towards a wine purchase as a gift. Since the shop has yet to obtain a cabaret license, we had 6 cases of wine to ourselves (ourselves being the staff). I, knowing that today was a day off, was indulgent in the goods. The vino was flowing, and it was a great time. I was able to change into my street clothes and hop back behind the counter to make pizzas as we needed them. The calls from the counter were my influence.

"Do something with feta!" turned into a feta, roasted red pepper, and sweet Italian sausage pizza with a red base.

"Prosciutto...prosciutto sounds good!" became a prosciutto, roma, sweet basil, ricotta pizza with a white base.

As the um...grown up grape juice became more influential on my brainwaves, the ideas kept flowing. The ensuing discussions with the owner included talks of stuffed whole striped bass wrapped in prosciutto, seared in a cast iron container we would keep in the oven, and then finished on the stone. What about stuffed calamari tubes that would then be themselves stuffed into similar sized morels? That would be good. My defining moment was also my final pizza of the evening. A bleu cheese, pear, apple, candied pecan pizza topped with white raisins re-hydrated in red wine and sugar. One of the waitresses friends said the pizza 'changed her life'.

So I spent this morning dealing with the headache that I knew would be coming. It included a walk to Starbucks, and lunch at a newly built mission burrito place by our house. This is the third location for this local company, and with good reason. Today I had two soft shell fish tacos with salsa fresca, cabbage, and baja sauce. Did I mention they were two dollars a piece? Great deal...and the dirtier the floor, the better the food.

Tonight I will go to a friends house I haven't been to in quite some time. I will probably drink more wine, and celebrate the change seasons with a last grasp on the wintry foods. I am making:

Cracked peppercorn pasta with prosciutto, corn, Vidalia onion and basil - $0
Roasted root vegetable soup with organic beets, parsnips, turnips, and Vidalia onions - $0
Home-made bread sticks with garlic butter and ground pecans - $0

Using good food to celebrate with your friends - $Priceless

I couldn't resist. Can you tell I purchased a bag of Vidalia onions? So good...but they go bad so fast I need to use them up. I'm off now to finish the purchases for dinner.