I’m Back. Some Stuff Has Happened. Some Stuff Will Happen.

I have been pretty busy getting my new menu done and ready to be rolled out, and I’ve been focusing my energy on getting back into the swing of working every day that I’ve neglected this blog for a bit. I’m back in the kitchen with the Spring menu in place, so now I can get back to writing down some of my feeble thoughts.

When you put the order in as a sea bass and a haddock, we cook a sea bass and a haddock. When the person who gets the haddock really ordered a steak, do you clear both dishes so both diners can eat together? I think so, but it would be best to ask them what they would like to do. Either way, their experience was not what they had hoped for. The names (of the fish) have been changed to protect the guilty.

I recently looked up the lists of Rising Star Chefs from the past few years’  Food and Wine Festival for the Arts in Albany. Some have risen beautifully, some have fallen.  This chef business is not an easy job, no matter what your potential. It has taken me many years to find myself in this business.

Please wait to be seated.

I do not put cream in my risotto.

Jack’s Oyster House just got a 1½ star review.  That’s sad.  I guess if you’re making money, who cares, it’s a business before all else.  I’ve heard grumbling that Jack’s received special treatment by reviewer Susie Davidson Powell by making two visits, and Senior Editor Steve Barnes making several trips to justify the tone of the review.  You stay open for over 100 years and you’ll get well deserved special treatment too.

I’ve been doing some consulting work, which I’m really enjoying.  If there’s one thing I have, it’s an opinion, generally based on 18 years of experience in this business.

It got a little busy on Saturday night, I was happy to be doing what I do.  I’m looking forward to doing more of it in the future.

I swore off bourbon a while ago, and was sticking to it until someone gave me a bottle two months ago, I just finished it last night. While I have not fully quit, the pace has slowed down from a bottle per week to a bottle in two months. I have plan or desire to buy another bottle.

I have some irons in the fire. Not everyone has irons, and some people have no fire. It’s nice to have both.

I’m happy, the foie gras tortelloni is selling well.

Thank you to The Wine Bar for supporting me in many ways through my foot surgery.

When you’re in the process of buying a house, the credit card offers come in the mail at an alarming rate.

Thank you to my kitchen staff for pulling some extra weight in my absence. We will all be better as a result.

I understand that Eric Ripert was in Saratoga yesterday.

“Looking for a chef that can multi task must be. Able. To cook breakfast and knowledge of all gravy’s ,soups making daily specials cooking comfort foods.”  This a job description from a Craigslist ad.  Who do you think they’ll attract?

As Spring gets into full swing in Saratoga, and the patios are being finished, some restaurants are getting their chalkboard out. Not everyone is complying with the new regulations that say you cannot just stick it in the middle of the sidewalk.

Every snippet has a specific purpose.

Don’t believe everything you read.

The Red Sox have a horrible pitching staff so far.  That, you can believe.

 

 

Dizzy Snippets

I have vertigo. It really adds to the recovery from foot surgery.  Yesterday I stepped on my own toe while walking.

While waiting for results of a blood work the other day, Jenn and I ate at Panera in Wilton as it’s  within walking distance of my doctor’s office.  It was packed with ladies, and the food was pathetic.  A sandwich pretending to be grilled on one side, and soggy on the other, and a bowl of salty broth pretending to be chicken noodle soup.

Excerpt from a Craigslist ad for a chef’s position: Accepting resumes for Executive Chef position. Candidates not submitting a resume will not be considered. Two (2) years’ experience in hands-on food preparation…….  Minimum of two years experience and you too can be an Executive Chef.  That, my friends, is what we call an issue.

Niçoise salad with bok choy and Cajun aioli.  That too is an issue.  Yes, that’s something I saw locally.

I went back to work Wednesday, sort of.  I opened the kitchen, made bread, and did a few hours of prep.  I fell asleep on the couch after dinner and woke up sore. Gotta get back into kitchen shape.

Anyone see the freezing rain and snow this week?  That, my friends is why I don’t feel compelled to roll out a Spring menu based on the calendar.

I don’t have many friends, but I do have a lot of acquaintances.  I suspect the reality is that most people over-estimate how many friends they have.

Great article by Steve Barnes.  http://blog.timesunion.com/tablehopping/47535/women-chefs/

The trend towards the restaurant kitchen being a professional setting is arriving late to the Capitol Region.  I welcome it, late or not.  I believe more women will be drawn to our area kitchens as we do away with the kitchen being the home of misfits who are unemployable elsewhere.  I welcome that too.

The meat consumed by the most people in the world is goat.  The most consumed meat in the world is pork.

Who’s ready to take a chance, do something creative, new, and different?  I am.

Sometimes people still ask for mint jelly, no matter what the preparation of lamb is.  It’s zombie like, “eating lamb, must have mint jelly.”

Listening to your customers is important.  Listening to your non-customers is more important.

Jenn and I finally went to Mio Posto, the little gem run by chef/owner Danny Urschel here in Saratoga.  We get out alone so infrequently that anything is a treat.  When the meal was as enjoyable as the tasting menu the talented chef prepared for us, it’s an especially memorable occasion. One word of caution:  Danny is an avid Yankees fan, so to keep evil spirits at bay, wear a Red Sox tee-shirt under a sweater to keep safe.

Trust me, if a pasta dish calls for cheese, I’ll put it on.

I was asked recently to report what my choice would be for a last meal.  How the Hell do you have an appetite knowing it’s your last meal?

Being out of work makes it tough to tell stories about life in the restaurant kitchen, glad this is almost over. I’ll do a couple of days next week, then enough the following week to roll out a new menu.

Apparently today is National Sibling day.

Don’t Blame Factory Farms

There’s a test of wills happening.  Americans are eating as much meat as they can as fast as they can, and factory farms are growing meat as fast as they can.  Who will blink first?  You can be sure it wont be the farms, they’re just keeping up with demand and making shit-loads of money doing it. So, the onus falls on us, the American public.

We cannot just blame the fast food, double stacked, meat-lovers, super-sized, meat wrapped in more meat crowd. While the problem falls heavily on that sector since it’s cheap, poor quality factory raised meat that supplies the restaurants that manufacture double pepperoni with bacon-wrapped crust pizzas, I’m as guilty as anyone else, I love meat.

The last time Jennifer and I went to a fine dining restaurant I ordered one of the nightly specials, a 20oz cowboy steak for a buck short of $60.  I got a pretty good steak on a wood plank with a comparatively small amount of potato and vegetable.  About half way through I realized I had made a bad choice. It wasn’t because it wasn’t good, it was because I was tired of that meat in front of me and I just wanted it to go away.  It was a lesson I needed to learn, or relearn. It was obvious that this wasn’t a factory produced steak, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d fed into the American way of life when it comes to meat.

A 10oz steak is plenty, a 6oz burger is plenty, it’s ok to get asparagus or peppers on your pizza, and it’s ok to limit yourself to less meat and supplement the loss with more vegetables.  If you’re in need of beef, make steak tacos, with avocado, and tomatoes.  Yes, if you love meat, eat it. Just eat less of it.

While I hope I’m reaching both the Wendy’s Triple folks and the “I only eat pasture raised, grass-fed, free-range…” people here.  I suspect most of us fall in the middle, and I suspect we are the ones who can make the biggest impact.  Those of us who care about food, where it comes from, and how the animals we will consume are treated need to really take a look at who’s at fault here.  Many of us who do care do not exclusively buy from small farms as the perception is that it’s too expensive.  Sure, it costs more, but if you consume half as much it becomes affordable.  Factory farms need to produce meat like they do in order to keep up with the demand, to keep pace with a meat-loving culture that is America.  So, not only should you eat less to diminish the demand, you should know who you’re buying meat from.

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I started eating ramen on a regular basis in 1981, as my college roommate Seng Lim and I made it often. We had a Coleman propane camping stove hidden in our dorm room.

We also had a full size refrigerator hidden in our closet. We kept bok choy, beef, pork, eggs, and beer in it.

Panera is now doing ramen bowls. There’s another bandwagon we’ve overloaded.

A little knowledge goes a long way, usually the wrong way.

You don’t need to know much to have an opinion.

Breyer’s used to make ice cream, now they make frozen dairy desert.

Chipotle is pretty good.

Check out this blog, and this post about why it’s not time for spring menus yet.  http://humblingattempts.blogspot.com/2015/03/why-i-didnt-debut-spring-menu-this-past.html

Mushroom season is coming, I look forward to foragers appearing at the kitchen door.

Ramps too.