Cooks, Are You doing OK?

Call it what you will, Corona Virus, Covid19, The Pandemic……Just don’t call it the China Virus like a certain idiot in the White House.

This is without a doubt a difficult time for anyone in the restaurant industry.  With restaurants are either shut down or relegated to take-out and/or delivery only.  This scenario has put hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers out of work and onto unemployment for a fraction of their pay and will put many in a position of not keeping up with their bills while the j-offs who run the Federal Government bicker over how best to help the Americans who find themselves in peril.  It has also taken many of us out of the kitchen where we’re comfortable and safe with our peers.  Many of us are now put in a position that will increase issues with our already fragile mental health.

Lexapro is a great drug.  The pharmaceutical company that produces it charges too much, but it works well. What it does is makes depression due to chemical imbalance manageable.  What it does not do is eliminate depression.  While therapy helps manage it, depression is a long-term mental health issue and it takes years to conquer.

I’m trying my best to stay positive, and to keep depressed feelings pushed back.  One day last week was especially tough, I felt a bit overwhelmed, and found myself shutting down. Shutting down generally means becoming unable to do anything but lay on the couch and do not much of anything.  The world can continue around me, but I just don’t care.  These episodes are far more rare then they used to be when my depression was at its peak a few years ago.  Anxiety is also a big problem, and current events are bringing that to the forefront.  A couple days ago I came as close to an anxiety attack as I ever have.  I’m not sure how close I was because I’ve never had one, but I was to a point where I had to go upstairs alone for a bit.

One glaring problem is that a lot of people who work in the kitchen either do not recognize their feelings as depression or could not afford to do much about it if they did.   Seen as depression or not, a large number of cooks find  “therapy” sessions available to them in a bar after dinner service with their fellow hash-slingers. I will interject here, off topic, but worth mentioning that the money spent on booze and drugs would be better used on professional help.  I’ll tackle that issue at another time.

Now bars are closed, and the all-important healing sessions are on hold.  Cooks are mostly stuck at home and there’s little outlet for the type of energy that only a busy kitchen can burn up. Often, the people restaurant folks live with do not fully comprehend the life in the back of the house, the comradery, and the need to be at work where you have value as an individual and life has meaning.

So, while I’m worried about all my brothers and sisters in the industry on so many levels, I am increasingly becoming worried about mental health as my own issues become magnified by the current circumstances. I know if my depression and anxiety are increasing, then it’s only logical that there a are too many collogues finding themselves with increasing trouble keeping their minds in good shape.

I’m not a mental health professional by any means, but I have explored the subject in great detail.  My advice is not a substitute for professional counseling, but if I can help a few people struggling with and problems they might be facing then I’d love to hear from them.

The best I can tell you is that seeking a therapist that can do some work over the phone right now is the best thing you can do.  I know that’s not a viable option for everyone, so I’m willing to help.  I want to hear from you if you need to sort through some thoughts, vent, or ask for direction.  I’ve been through the toughest part of depression and am dealing with some pretty difficult bouts of anxiety.  There’s no reason to go through it alone.

A few of the things I’m doing is combing through my favorite cookbooks for fresh ideas, reshaping the Amuse menu in anticipation of reopening, planning some great meals at home, and reading any material I can on restaurant life.

I also think its important to get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed and have a plan for the day.  I’ve had a horrible cold the last few days which hasn’t helped me stick to that routine but feel much better tonight and plan on forging ahead and being productive around the house.  Write a prep/to do list as if you were at work, do some kitchen maintenance, sharpen your knives, go through recipes and organize them in a recipe app.  I use Pepperplate and have been adding to it and getting rid of all the bits of paper and index cards.

The bottom line is, don’t just lay around (I know it’s impossible sometimes) and do nothing, force yourself to get up and do things to have you ready to go back to work better than ever.  Use this time to recharge your batteries and go into the kitchen once again with a new appreciation for your craft.  Most of all, don’t hesitate to get help in any form you can

Talk to a loved one, a friend, a professional if you can, or just reach out to me.  I’ve been there, I ‘m still there, and I’m sure I’ll be there in the future.  My email is dominiccolose@gmail.com.  Hit me up and I’d love to help. Peace, and head up. You’re not alone.

Winding Down to Wind Up

People say that it’s a shame that kids aren’t learning cursive writing anymore. Well, they also don’t learn to drive a horse and buggy either.

Yes, they’ll be able to read historical documents, like the Constitution. That’s why Al Gore invented the interwebs.

Hey, I’m a chef, not a grown up.

It can be irritating when chefs take themselves too seriously.  You can take your work seriously, but remember, it’s food, and not a matter of life and death.  We’re cooks,  not oncologists.

I have a self-destructive behaviors.  What sucks is knowing it and continuing.

Please stop calling plant-based food meat.  It isn’t, so call it what it is.  Chemically engineered crap.  Eat meat, or eat plants, but stop pretending one is the other.

If you’re not already on a bandwagon don’t fret, another will be coming by sooner than later.

The rabbit meatballs have been selling well, I’m glad.

I’m rereading my entire blog from the beginning.  I’m aware that blogs are not overly popular anymore and my readership numbers will back that up.  So, I’ve decided to start podcasting.  I have already done one test session and will get the first one out soon.  I also have some new video equipment and plan on doing the blog in front of the camera.  I am aware however that I have a look that’s more suited to podcasting, I think it will be fun to show you the man behind the keyboard, and the bourbon.

The podcasts will be discussions on issues in the restaurant industry with perspective from my kitchen experience and corresponding thoughts by long-time service professional Peter Burleigh.

The camera stuff will be just me drinking bourbon and making an ass of myself.  An honest, somewhat well-spoken ass. The more bourbon, the honester I’ll be.

I’ve been on the edge of success more than once only to piss it away.

My wife asked why I don’t show her the same affection as I do towards the dog.  Who knew she liked having her belly scratched?  Ooooooo who’s my good girl?

I’ve procured some goat through Old Saratoga Mercantile for a Moroccan goat curry next week.

I’m not joining in on the bargain food.   No 3 course meals for cheap, no catchy phrases like “Taco Tuesday” and I’m trying to get in on fads like avocado toasts and Keto shit. What I will do is make great Mediterranean based food from quality ingredients and sell it at a fair price.   Remember, You get what you pay for, so if you want discounted food go right ahead, it’s your body.  My question is, where do the ingredients that make up a $9.99 dinner come from?

What will bring them in?  Discounts?  What discounts say is “my food isn’t worth the price.”

Good food, good service, and consistency.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be one of the healthiest in the world.  It’s no fad.

It’s rotten when you pull food pictures off the Googles and resent them as your own.   Two reasons:  Someone worked hard to produce the food and the pictures, so only they’re entitled to those photos unless there is an agreed upon compensation.  Second, when you post photos of good-looking food and people visit you as a result you are participating in what’s called the bait and switch. If you don’t have that food, then you’ve misrepresented yourself.

I tend to have an obsessive personality.

It was a real mistake giving a 12-year-old chocolate lab 2 hot dogs and the leftover baked beans.

Goodnight.

See you on the airwaves or the youtubes sooner than later.

Speaking of the youtubes, check this outDerryX Dines Again

Your Happy is Not My Happy

Being passive-aggressive often takes some creativity, so let’s not look at it as a negative trait, but as an envied trait.

If someone treats you in an unprofessional manner, perhaps it’s because you acted in an unprofessional manner.

I ran some chardonnay through the soda stream a few days ago.  Schuylerville Champagne, we fancy.

I was a Baltimore Orioles fan until 1975.  I loved Brooks Robinson, arguably one of the greatest defensive 3rd basemen to ever play the game.  Towards the end of his career his skills as a hitter diminished and he was often a liability in the lineup.  It was at that time as a fan I was cognizant of what happens to someone who hangs on too long.

Knowing when it’s over, and it’s time to quit is sometimes a rare quality.  You don’t want to be remembered as a sorry representation of what you had been in the past.

My anxiety has been through the roof lately, I really need to find a good therapist, unlike my last one who nodded off more than once during sessions. The problem is that one of my anxieties is a real fear of calling people on the phone.  I don’t think it’s a phobia, but it does create a real nervousness when I need to make a call.  I avoid it as best as I can, using email, text, and other forms of written communication.  There are times however that even returning a text or an email causes anxiety.  I’d make a great hermit.

I love hermit cookies.

“Have a good one” always causes me to ask inside my head “have a good one what?”

Last week I had my first problem customer.  She sat at the chef’s counter and immediately declared that she hated cumin.  In my head I asked, “then why the fuck did you come to a restaurant that specializes in North African and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine?”  Out loud I said, “let’s see what we can do.”  As it turned out, there was nothing I could do.

Amuse is not for everyone, and that’s ok with me. No place is for everyone, and those places that try to accommodate everyone are destined to fail.  We are carving out our niche and developing a great clientele that appreciates what we do and can differentiate between well-thought out food and the same old same old.

Edibles as it turns out aren’t for me.

Pricey.  It means different things to different people.  It’s a term that only has meaning to the person using it.

Memories of your own history are generally skewed.

I’ve long known Bourbon to be a good friend, but he does talk behind my back and takes any opportunity to make me feel guilty about our relationship.  He may not be such a good friend after all.

Some people appear simply miserable, and it doesn’t seem to matter where they are.  Perhaps it’s just that we don’t get to see some people in their safe and happy places.  We judge them in places where they do not function at their best.

I have never seen anyone talk until they’re blue in the face.

I’m not them, nor should I be.

If you drive a 2009 Honda Civic with a spoiler and oversized rims, is it a requirement that you drive with your hood up in order to substantially decrease your peripheral vision?

People sometimes look at someone’s situation as unsatisfactory and give advice on how it can be fixed.  What they do not understand is that the someone they are advising is completely happy with the way things are.

Are there better values than free information kits?

The prize money for winning on Family Feud is $20,000 which is automatically divided 5 ways and paid out 90 days after the show airs.  Yes, taxes are taken out, and yes, families pay for their own travel. The prize money has not been increased since 2001.

Run with scissors.

Some kitties are real kitties.

I miss red pistachios.

What’s your busy?  Anything worthwhile?

Doggies in strollers.  Jajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja.

When A-listers eventually end up on the C-list.

You should all know that I’m fully aware that I am far from perfect.   I’m full of faults, difficult to live with, and can be cranky when mixed into the general public.  I also know that there are people who don’t like me and I’m ok with that.

A safe place for me is in the kitchen, and behind my chef’s counter serving great food and talking to people who appreciate it.  I feel good there, and I’m at my best there.  If you really want to know me, that’s the place to do it.  You’ll find me good-natured, friendly, and likely quite entertaining and willing to share my thoughts on almost anything.

Just don’t mention a dislike for cumin.

Not all kitchens are happy.

If you see me at Price Chopper, ignore me, I’m likely in an irritated state.

Peace.

Hope to see you all in each other’s happy environment.

Still Working on Me

In a M*A*S*H episode I was watching last night, one of the last scenes had Hawkeye walking into a wooded area with his medical bag to help a sniper that had been firing at the 4077th.  The sniper was hit by a shooter from an American helicopter and finally waved a white flag.  Not knowing what he was walking towards, Hawkeye performed his duty as a doctor without a thought for his own safety.

I started thinking about how many people have experiences that significantly change their lives and make them who they are. I don’t mean short-term changes like going on a diet, but life altering experiences like the loss of someone dear to you, an encounter with death, profound occurrences in war, or incarceration.

Someone did house made pop tarts, and now others are doing them too.  I guess imitation is easier than innovation.

Years ago, The Miami Dolphins started the wildcat offense.  It worked because defenses were not accustomed to dealing with it.  Other teams started using it, it worked for a bit, then defenses adjusted.  No one does it anymore.

The Caprese salad is still done, even in Winter.  The defenses have not adjusted to the Caprese, so it’s still a thing.

I get distracted easily sometimes.

Anyway, I was looking at my own life, and thinking about my recent post They Call Me the Squanderer and I started to wonder if I have squandered any opportunities to make significant changes as a result of monumental events in my life.  I really haven’t changed who I am, or how I conduct myself at any time during adulthood.  I have given things up for short periods, I’ve wrestled with the existence of an omnipotent being, I’ve devoted myself to various long-term tasks, but I have never had a moment in my life, or an Earth shattering event that has changed the course of my life or who I am.  Have I missed something?  Was there something in my life that should have been bigger, and I just didn’t respond?

My sister Elaine died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 43. I held her hand as she took her last breath, and my life didn’t change.  My brother Dan died 5 years later at 48.  I would have been present at his death if it were not for a selfish act by his wife, who I’ll despise for the rest of my life.  Still, no change.  Perhaps I’m resisting change, perhaps I simply have a weakness that won’t allow me to be affected by such events.  My detesting my brother’s widow might just be a sign that I’m too steadfast in my ways, and that my inability to move forward is a stubbornness that will not allow me to evolve.

Other events have occurred.  My father died; I had a sister-in-law die at 38.  My first wife, Theresa’s mother died at 48.  Still, I see myself as me, and have never felt an epiphany that had me taking action towards real change.

I wonder, was I simply shaped early?  Or, as I suspect, am I just too hard-headed to make any meaningful changes in my life?

An alternate possibility is that perhaps people don’t all make changes the same way.  Some have monumental events that shock them into a new way of life, while others simply respond to major  events with slow and methodical adaptations in order to deal with occurrences that have a profound effect on their well-being.

The gradual changes are harder to detect, even for someone who prides himself on being self-aware.  I know I’m affected by the deaths of loved ones, by events in my career, and by the ups and downs and lack of retention of valued relationships, and by my mental health issues, but I still seem to be the person I’ve always been.  Perhaps I’m still adapting into a better person with a better grasp on the events that have dotted the landscape of my life.  Perhaps the process isn’t complete and at some point, I’ll wake up one day and be able to say “yes, the episodes I have experienced have changed me.” I don’t see or feel it yet, and maybe I have work to do in order to facilitate positive changes, but until then I just have my doubts that I’m able to use life’s experiences to help me to develop a better understanding of who I am and who I want to be.

Completely Random

In the age of social media most people assume they have more friends than the truly have.  I have many Facebook friends.  Facebook calls them friends, but people with their heads not up their own asses know that just because they’re referred to as friends, they’re not.

I have a small handful of people I call actual friends.  Several are either directly in the restaurant business, or friends because of the restaurant business.  Others are people I’ve known as far back as elementary school.

Many of my friends I can go months or years without speaking to, but they remain my friends and when given the opportunity to see them we usually make it happen.

I am bad, just so very bad at keeping in touch with people.

Hey “barista” with the hemp yarn knit hat: rather focus on your “art,” why not focus on not putting hot coffee into a cold mug, then taking five minutes to make a flower so that when I get my drink it’s lukewarm.

I was once told that speaking up about politics would result in my losing business.  The reality is that not speaking up could result in losing a lot more.

When I die, I just want to be thrown down a well.  A nice well.

Or I want to be buried made up as a clown, with full clown makeup and dress.

No shoes however, I cannot stand having my feet covered when I sleep.  Having them covered while I sleep for eternity would be the worst.

I posted three years ago that I wanted to start a book. I’ve worked on it on and off, but I want to pay attention to spending time on it regularly.  I have a basic outline, just gotta fill in the rest.

The book is animal characters who work at a restaurant and represent many of the people I’ve worked with over the years.

Think Animal Farm meets Kitchen Confidential.

Nachos done right are simply delectable.

One great thing about Amuse is that I’m not in a space where I’m paying $9000 per month and have 15 employees is that if it snows on a Friday night I can close without worrying about loss of business and close, ensuring that I’m not having my employees out in dangerous driving conditions.  Instead I’m home having dinner with my family and my coworkers are safe and warm.

Amuse is different on so many levels.

Plant-based proteins are pretty much silly.  I’m silly too.

Tuna nachos are not some culinary nirvana that needs to be held on to no matter what.

Of course, that explains some things

People have told me that I could get more seats in, or that I should be open more days.  These people have no idea what my goals and needs are, nor do they know what success means to me.

So, apparently, they’re no longer a Spanish restaurant.

I’m currently rewatching the entire M*A*S*H series.

Isn’t getting into cool, almost cold covers at the end of a long day one of the great pleasures in life?

Stella (9), has discovered video chatting with her friends. I fear this is the beginning of the loss of Tate’s (7) best friend.

Burger and a Beer, how inventive.

There’s sometimes a difference between house made and hand crafted.  I hand craft pasta; others make it in house.

My favorite table tonight was a young couple who had a bottle of wine and perhaps 5 small plates.  I could see them paying attention to each other throughout the meal, no phones, limited pauses in conversation, and eyes fixed on one another.  The attention paid to one by the other was genuine, and not lustful, but enjoyable and satisfying.  I imagined they didn’t have a lot to spend, and I was pleased that I could provide a great meal that brought such joy to these two young people and that I could be a part of their nice evening.  Perhaps my assessment was skewed by fantasy, but I don’t think so. Either way, their happiness gave me happiness.

All my tables were excellent in so many ways, and I appreciated all of them.

There was a lot of sharing tonight at tables.  Hooray.

They Call Me the Squanderer

I was in line at Saratoga Coffee Traders today and the young lady in front of me bought me a coffee.  What a pain in the ass that is, now I’ve got to pay it forward by being nice to someone else.

I’ve squandered so many things my whole life, and as I start thinking about it, I feel a deep sense of remorse.

The first thing I remember squandering is when I was in eighth grade. I was already in advanced math and science classes and was doing very well in school.  I was presented with an opportunity which the school system explained to me and parents as a new program for exceptional students to take a computer and advanced technology curriculum in high school which would include a lot of work at both school and at home.  I wanted no part of it.  My middle school buddy entered the program, went to RPI and has worked for IBM ever since.

Actually, the first thing I remember squandering is the chance to make out with Diane Keefe in fourth grade.

Full disclosure, I’m drinking Bourbon.

Those of you who paid attention to the game: remember after the second SF interception by safety Tavarius Moore? Instead of handing the ball to the referee like a professional he ran to the back of the endzone with his teammates and lined up for a posed group photo.  It was then, with about 10 minutes left that I predicted that the 49ers would lose.

I went out for cross country in 11th grade but quit before the racing season started.  I went back to it in 12th grade and got recruited to Siena College.  I became a very good runner, but if I had started a year earlier it  may have opened more college opportunities.  Siena was not the right school for me.

Even so, the education was practically free, and I did not take advantage.  I failed out twice and given a second and third chance I still did not finish, leaving myself 3 credits short.

Kansas City, MO

Prominent conservatives have publicly commented about the “offensive and pornographic half-time show.  These are the same people who support the pussy-grabber who has paid off porn stars and has cheated in his wives. STFU.

I had a pretty good college running career, including a NYS meet in the 3000-meter steeplechase.  After college I continued to run competitively, eventually running an 8:49.33 in the steeplechase, which was a nationally ranked effort at the time.  After that race I decided on a week off to recuperate and didn’t run for a few years.  I eventually started up again, ran well, but not at the level I was capable of.  Had I not stopped I believe I would have done quite well, but again; I squandered an opportunity to do something worthwhile.

I did the dishes during the half-time show as I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea.  Yes folks, when you don’t want to see something for whatever reason, you don’t have to, you can do something else.

The people who were offended watched it anyway.

Time has been around since, well, the beginning of time.  That’s a long time, yet people are still amazed at the rate in which time moves.

While at Siena, I had explored the possibility of transferring to the CIA.  I met with the financial aid director, applied, and was accepted.  I wanted to run cross country however, so I stayed with Siena.  I was just a kid, entering college at 17.  What the Hell did I know?  Perhaps someone could have figured out how to put me on the right career path.

Everyone has an agenda.

We need more mentorship.

People seem surprised when it’s cold in January.

Culinary license is beneficial. Just making shit up is not.

Burning bridges is sometimes necessary as it keeps you from going back over them when you really should not.

I have squandered too many personal relationships to mention.  Some casual friendships, some family.  All necessary and valued.

I was the chef at Café Capriccio in Albany and given significant ownership in the business.  I squandered it because I was not grown up enough to understand what I was given.

I squandered my talent as a chef for a long time by moving around too much.  I always thought the right place was the next place.

I’ve squandered money too often, starting with spending $5.00 on Patty Fitzgerald at Leonard’s Market when I was about 7 or 8.  I didn’t even get a kiss.

I hit her little brother in the head with a brick. I’m not sure he was ever the same.  I’m not sure I was ever the same.

From the time I left the Wine Bar for the last time until I opened Amuse, I accomplished very little.  Amuse should have opened stronger, but I squandered time.  Things are going well with Amuse, and I’m happy, but it should have gotten off to a much better start.

I’ve wasted opportunities, talents, money, and relationships.  The thing I’ve wasted more than anything is time.  It’s a non-renewable resource for which there is no replacement.

I love fried chicken.

As a chef, time is of great value.  In life, time is of great value.  I hope to have learned something here.

My favorite song is Time, by Pink Floyd.

My favorite line from the song is “one day you find ten years have got behind you.”

Let’s hope in ten years I feel better about time.

Chef Paul Parker is Back(ish), and I Couldn’t Be More Pleased

Folks, here’s an event you will not want to miss.  Not only will you be privy to a great meal, you’ll also get to participate an event that we were not sure would ever happen.  I’m really looking forward to the evening, and to the stories and fond memories that will arise.

Chef Paul Parker of the legendary Chez Sophie and Rare Earth Wine Bar will be making his long-anticipated return to the kitchen after surviving a serious bout with cancer.  It is an extreme privilege to work with him once again, and our recent conversations about food and cooking have inspired some fresh ideas that I will be able to use my work moving forward.

Paul and I will be collaborating on Mediterranean inspired tasting menu that will give diners a tour of the region’s flavors, with some clear influences from Paul’s French pedigree.

Amuse is located at 420 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, in the walkway between Kilwins and Cantina.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday February 5th.  We will be seating from 5:00-8:30  Reservations can be made through Open Table (link on amuseonbroadway.com) or by calling 518-421-4254 during our regular business hours.

Reservations for the chef’s counter can only be made by calling, and only 5, 5:30, 6, 8, and 8:30

Since Amuse is a very small restaurant, and we’ll have a short dinner service (we’re not going to overwork Paul yet), please make your reservations quickly, and do your best to avoid 7-7:30.  If Open Table is closed out, call me as we can sometimes get a table or two in.

The cost is $85 per person plus tax, gratuity, and beverages.

The menu is as follows and should not be altered.  If there are any issues with an actual allergy, please let us know at the time reservations are made as it may be impossible to address during dinner service.

rabbit liver | frisee | warm raspberry vinaigrette

country pâté | mustards | tarragon pickles

potato torta | shaved chorizo | smoked romesco

sardines en escabeche | warm lentil salad | pickled onions

clams | gigante beans | harissa broth

lamb sweetbreads | goat’s milk butter | capers | lemon

lebanese 7-spice and honey glazed quail | butternut squash puree

 

Get Along

Authenticity.  What does it even mean?

I do not make authentic dishes of any one cuisine or country of the Mediterranean region, but I am inspired by many cuisines and flavors of that region.  I use the spice profiles, the methods, and many of the ingredients used by the cultures that make up the area.

For every region in Mexico, for every neighborhood, and every household in fact there is a different way of making mole.  All are authentic.

My food is authentic.  Authentically mine and that’s all I claim.

Enough about that.

The number of restaurant consultants I’ve met since starting amuse on broadway is interesting.  The nice thing is that they’re willing to offer their advice and expertise at no charge and without prompting.

Imagine if all the consultants were customers.

To Hell with the NCAA.  The exist simply to maintain their own existence. That’s just a general “to Hell with,” nothing specific.

While I’m certainly aware of Italy’s contribution to Mediterranean cuisine, I have tried to avoid Italian food at amuse, sticking to North African and Eastern Mediterranean flavors, as well as a few inspirations from Spain.

If one more food critic uses the phrase “plenty of crusty bread for mopping up……..”  I’m going to increase my dislike for food critics.

It was Marco Pierre White who lamented about critics saying, “we’re being judged by those who know less than we do.”

Take money and religion out of the equation and I’m thinking we’ll have peace.

Let me now understand this. Trump kills an Iranian general, then Americans that have bald eagles with flags behind them as their profile pictures that have never served in the military and love the idea of “kicking ass” around the world post what they think are funny memes about our president assassinating another nation’s military leader.  That nation goes on high alert and started firing missiles at our military base in Iraq, and finally shot down a commercial jet that would have normally been free to fly to its destination.  Now, many families around the world, including our Canadian neighbors are without their dads, moms, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends…………

The memes just aren’t funny, but they do say how our population has become desensitized to war and its results.

The US has had a total of 16 years without military conflict in its history.

Not supporting the bombing of Iran does not mean I’m a Liberal, a Democrat, or a snowflake.  It does not mean I’m anti-American or that I sympathize with terrorists.  What it means is that I’m simply tired of our nation being at war in some form or another, I’m tired of our service men and women dying and being injured, I’m tired of innocent civilians in other countries being killed, and I’m certainly sick of wealthy people profiting from our aggressive and warring nature.

Who created terrorists?

When I was in middle school there was a kid who was not like most other kids, he seemed odd and kept to himself.  I was immature and  would sometimes poke him with teasing then fault him for his response.  As it turns out, the kid’s father used to smack him around. I eventually started eating lunch with him on occasion.  One day I forgot my lunch and he gave me a ham sandwich with brown mustard on oat bread.  I still remember the taste of that sandwich.

Usually understanding one another helps us get along.

Yet another reminder, bruschetta is not chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil.  Bruschetta is grilled or charred bread served warm typically with a rub of garlic, perhaps some olive oil.  Upon that toast can be one of hundreds of toppings, one of them could be chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil.  It could also be mushrooms, chicken liver mousse, eggplant, blue cheese with honey, goat cheese, ricotta, cured salmon, olives, egg salad, pesto, hummus, robiola with fig…..

I’m not sure my Moroccan themed Christmas dinner was received with great enthusiasm.

I don’t mind instant coffee that much.  I prefer good coffee, but I’m not that picky.

My proposed new food trend for 2020 is for people to stop following trends.

Dishwasher Shopping

I hired a dishwasher a few weeks ago.  He was supposed to start on a Friday, but he called and said a family member was rushed to the hospital, I told him to start the following Friday.  He didn’t show up.  He said that he thought I said Saturday.  He worked on Saturday then the following Thursday.  He did a pretty good job.  On the third Friday he explained that he had been sick all night and couldn’t come in. Must be something about Fridays.  He doesn’t work for me anymore.

I hired a dishwasher who was supposed to start Wednesday.  He never showed up.

Dishwashers.

I don’t believe in any God, nor do I believe in Santa Clause.  I do not think there have ever been any wars fought over the belief in Santa.  Given the choice, I’d take old St. Nick as his impact on the world has been far less destructive.

I’ve mentioned in the past that it’s hard for me to be out in public, especially at a grocery store.  I just think so many people there forget that there are other people in the store trying to shop as well.

I starts when I walk into the store behind someone and stop just inside the door so they can organize their list and coupons without leaving enough room for anyone else to get by.

People with their cart and 4 kids up against the meat display taking 10 minutes to pick out a package of pork chops at that moment when I’m there to buy pork chops.

When stopping your cart while shopping ask yourself if other people can get by.  Just be aware that Dominic might be shopping too and he’s unreasonably irritated by life’s simple occurrences.

There’s no grocery bagger, the cashier has no idea why there’s a rack of bags directly behind her (or him for NPR fans) so they just let the groceries pile up down at the end, and the shopper is above bagging their own items.  Said shopper waits until the cashier (who could have bagged while scanning) has bagged up your groceries to take out the checkbook, find a pen, and ask who to make the check out to.  Or, for the progressive shopper who uses a card, but still waits until the end to jam the card into the slot like they’re trying to get a dagger through an enemy combatant’s breast plate, then push the buttons like they’re typing on a manual typewriter from 1956.

I love the Red Sox.  Red Sox fans not as much, they’re too damn anxious.

The cashier was instructing an 85-year-old couple to download the app so they could track their rewards program points.  The look the couple gave the cashier was one of utter bewilderment.  It appeared the elderly couple was clueless, but I contend that it was the Hannaford employee that was clueless, as she flaunted her obliviousness to the situation.

I get it, apps are how we work now, but we’re no longer able to service folks who are beyond today’s technology.  This is not a new concept, I’m sure the horseless carriage caused similar issues.  We just tend to leave people behind in a sink or swim situation.

You can serve people too much food and charge them for it, or you can give reasonable portions and make going out to dinner a better value.

Recently the tight-assed group 1 Million Moms put enough pressure on that horrible Hallmark Channel to move them to remove a commercial that featured a same-sex kiss.  Shame on the Hallmark Channel for buckling under the pressure from a group of people whose purpose in life is to direct others how to live.  If they wanted to do some actual good in the name of the greatest and most popular work of fiction created, then they would go after con men like Joel Osteen and the other preachers of fables and fantastic stories who make great sums of money preying on the fears of misdirected believers.

While writing some of this I’m listening to The Highwaymen live at Nassau Coliseum recorded in 1990.  These guys are American icons who sing honest songs.

Just a lot of ranting, I know.  Thanks for listening.  Chef’s day is looking good so far today, but it’s early.

Old Flavors are New Again

There’s nothing new about the flavors I’m presenting at Amuse. In fact, they’re quite old, most even ancient.  I’m not looking to be overly innovative with most of what I’m creating as of late, but I am seeking to use the spice of Northern Africa, Spain, and the Eastern Mediterranean in to introduce new flavors to Saratoga Springs.

I don’t feel the need to recreate traditional, and dishes of specific countries or cultures, but instead use the spice blends in applications that I as a chef deem culinarily fun and of course, delicious.  My “non-traditional bouillabaisse” is a great example. While the dish and many like it are classics in the Mediterranean region, this specific preparation is not.  I try to blend traditional ideas from one culture but use a flavor profile from another in the area.  I could not necessarily label anything on the menu as specifically Turkish, Moroccan, Spanish, or Syrian.  I can however call my cooking inspired by all those cuisines and others that have such a long food history.

So, if you’re looking for recipes to be exact to any country of origin, forget it, I’m gonna mix them up and see what shakes out. My way

I will tell you this:  It’s going to taste good, It’s going to challenge your taste buds, and it’s going to be new it these here parts.

I have so far excluded Italy, and mostly because I’ve done it, and so has everyone else.  I want something new and you should as well.

I am going to start making some hand-made pasta soon and see if we can do something interesting with it for a change.

Some cumin and a dollop of yogurt does not make it Middle Eastern.  The cooking in that part of the world may seem simple and developed from poverty, but it’s a very culinarily complex region with such a long history, multitudes of religions, cultures, and ethnic groups.  I’m doing my best to understand it and recreate it in my own way.  It’s a good thing I have no rules.

Our industry only moves forward with flexibility, innovation, and culinary license. Oh, and limited rules.

Well, Amuse is open and I’m having a great time.  We’ve got a long way to go before we become everything we’ve set out to be, but the start is very encouraging and I’m confident Amuse will shape up to realizing its potential in the coming weeks and months.

In the past four weeks I’ve lost 28 lbs.  I have drastically reduced alcohol and almost eliminated junk food. I’m also ending meals at the point when I’m comfortably full, no further.  I feel better than I have in a long time.

At this juncture in my restaurant career, I find far more pleasure in enjoying who came in vs. how many came in. Sure, I could count covers, but at this point I’d rather relish in the fact that I’m drawing people who are in to enjoy the food and flavors rather than just be fed.

The servers at Amuse are top-notch, I’m lucky to have them.

Alan has made significant strides.

I’m going to serve goat soon, perhaps for New Year’s Eve.

Pride

My last dishwasher found waking up for a 5:00 shift difficult.  Now he can sleep in.

Jenn and I purchased a new stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator from Lowe’s.  On the day the appliances were to be delivered we were informed that the fridge that was previously seen in the warehouse was nowhere to be seen.  The sales department and the shipping department gave us a bullshit story about their inventory to explain their unintentional error. We suspected that our fridge had been desired by another party and was sold to them.  The delivery guys fully supported our theory and advised us to seek more than the 10% discount offered.

My son came home from a birthday party on Sunday with a punch balloon. As much as it would upset him, I somewhat hope each day that it pops.

I’m almost done with the New Year’s Eve menu which I’ll post on amuseonbroadway.com on Sunday.  It will be fun, full of small tapas and mezze, and the prices won’t be inflated for the holiday.

There will be 7 seafood dishes on the menu for December 20th and 21st with a special price for those that may want to enjoy the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes in a series of 5 courses.  They will also be available individually.

A Catholic tradition done with flavors that are typically enjoyed in Muslim countries?  Who says food can’t bring the world together.

See you at Amuse.