Category: restaurant

To Do List

Things to do before vacation in one month and five days from today, presented in no particular order:

1. Design, test, and execute dessert menu for new restaurant

2. Train two people, one at La Sirena, one at El Che

3.  Hire a person for El Che

4. Make two dinners worth of food for 30 people, store and freeze

5. Decorate paddle boat in the “mystical creatures” theme

6.Talk to Shortbread about campsite layout

7. Stretch daily

8. Don’t Panic

9. Plan birthday party at the house for this weekend

10. Weed the garden and plant all the seedlings

11.  Revamp menu at La Sirena

12. Look up yoga studios close to work

13. Gather supplies for 5 days camping trip

14. Clean my bedroom

 

3 Leche Spring

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Because the concept of the 3 leche cake- a Latin American iconic confection, a cake soaked with 3 types of milk until soggy, is limited to white cake and milk soak.  I love this concept and I want to build upon this classic dessert with a curious twist, with fanciful flavors, and whimsical undertones.

In this rendition, I made a cajeta sweetened cake (cajeta is goat’s milk and sugar cooked down to a caramel flavor and consistency- when it is cooking it fills the entire restaurant with the scent of snickerdoodle cookies.  This is a heavenly smell and produces an equally heavenly end product) that is then soaked with the traditional 3 leches, but with goat’s milk replacing the cream, and further fortified with chocolate to make a unique chocolate milk soak.  This lightly sweet, slightly chocolaty and caramel cake is served with Brazil nut streusel (for crunch and a nice nut flavor that resembles the Macadamia nut), acai purée (a small dark purple berry valued for its high nutritional content and subtle blueberry flavor), candied cocoa nibs (a pure form of chocolate) to enhance the chocolate notes in the dish, and cajeta chantilly (whip cream sweetened with cajeta) to balanced out the heavy liquid with a cloud like aura.

This dish is reflective of the season.  This is a spring dish in the ingredients used, the textures represented, and the earthy presentation.  This dish is modeled after the soggy spring, with lush, muddy ground waiting to sprout new growth.  The chocolate soak mimics the wet and fertile ground.  The streusel mimics broken up, freshly tilled soil in appearance and texture.  Because of limited local seasonal availability,  I used the hard to source acai berry to add a fruity flavor that interacts very well with the established flavors of the cake.  Early spring, right off winter, is the season to focus on frozen and preserved foods, and highlight them in the menu when you have the chance to search to globe for ingredients.  If you are going to use a frozen product, you mind as well use one that invokes curiosity and is not readily available to the average person.

Finally the whipped cream adds such a soft touch, light as the spring’s warmth, to round of the overall mouth feel.  The flavors are not too bold, except for the tiny explosion of flavor in the cocoa nibs- as a final lasting impression.

 

 

Gooey Galaxy

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Rich, warm, sultry.

Dense like an imploding star

Dark like the depth of winter’s charm

Crunchy like the frozen ground underfoot

Tart like the twinkle in a lonely star

Creamy like the lost milky way.

Come and find, indulge your intrigue.

Exploiting Passion and Accepting Settlement

I am so sick of justifying the pay cut to work in the kitchen because of passion.  I am irritated with hearing that cooks have this great passion, that we work these crazy long hours in non temperature controlled environments, that we are so tough because we do not take breaks, and contrary to many people’s opinion, we often don’t have time to eat ourselves. I am sick of hearing that we have more than it takes to put up with the demands of a fast paced and never ending physical workload, that we are mechanical in our need to not need sleep, to sustain solely on PBR and hidden whiskey, to live with your coworkers because its not like you ever have time for the house anyway.

Do not call me passionate, now that has become an insult.  Many people are in positions that makes them happy that have nothing to do with making zero money.  Why is it ok that cooks makes less than half of that of front of the house?  The hours are longer, the job is physically tougher, it is dangerous, and you need a high degree of skill and education to fill the role.  Food born illness and not properly handle food can cause serious problems.  Not to mention, that you need to eat to live.  Why do you trust the most underpaid people in America to sustain you with live giving nutrition?  Good thing that you are tipping so well to keep that water glass full.

This portrayal of the passionate chef is not only demeaning, it supports the macho driven ideals that are already so deeply engrained in kitchen culture.  If you cannot physically keep up with this near impossible work schedule, you do not have the beef to make it into the stew.  This is an aggressive environment, where emotions and stress run very high, competition is fierce like a lion continually proving his Alfa status, but you are not allowed to show an sign of weakness, hesitation, or second guessing.  It is this framework of egotism that exploits youth in the industry and keeps the kitchen testosterone heavy.

I am fed up with being exploited for my passion, I am fed up with portrait of the iron chef.  Like this heroic portrayal of the daily struggle makes us better people.  It makes us suckers is what it is.  This is poetic rhetoric is keeping us all down.  Keep your literature for fiction, this shit is real.

Fall Inspirations

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Although I am currently struggling with the complications of Autumn, when I think about the warming and comforting fall flavors, I get those good Goosebumps.  The chill is coming, but warming up with food is amazing.  This is the definition of comfort food, it is a feeling of safety, it is a physical reaction of an internal hug.  It warms you, calms you down, makes you forget about the harsh reality of daily living, transports you to serenity, if even for a moment.

Maple, caramel, clove, allspice, ginger, bay leaf, molasses

Pears, apples, pumpkin, squash, grains, beets, brittle, fennel, saffron, persimmon, bananas

Spiced rum, hot apple cider, dark roasted coffee, oatmeal stout, caramel

These are the flavors on my mind, and nature is my tool of inspiration.

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This dish is to remind you of fall at a Midwestern cider mill.  Apple cider doughnuts tossed in a rum-maple glaze, squash mousse flavored with chai spices, bacon brittle, dried apple shoe strings with sage.

Wait For It…

I have perhaps the best idea ever for a dessert.  I am going to say a word that I never thought I would ever say pertaining to a dessert, especially when the word “great” or “best” or “anticipation-worthy” is involved.

So here it is: s’more.

There, I said it.  If you immediately lose interest, I understand.  I certainly would not listen past this word when someone is trying to describe an innovative product, a salivary-induced dessert, and new idea that will spark imagination and delight.

Also, I will not say “deconstructed” because the dish is not deconstructed, it is reconstructed.  But that word will not appear in the name or even in the description based on principal- the principal that deconstructed is an overdone and a cliché concept.  Anything resembling that terribly passé word will be lumped into that same, shameful category.

I am thinking about calling it “Fireside” or perhaps “The Rebirth of S’more.”

I don’t want dull childhood memories of this store-bought mélange of ingredients to come across as misleadingly simple or contrived.  This ‘new best idea ever dish’ amplifies the best part of the s’more while also improving upon the aspects that are underwhelming.

I can’t say too many details about this idea without giving away too much.  You have to wait for it.  The intended restaurant where this is to début is not open for business yet.  The doors are not open, the fires are not lit, the tables are not yet set.  Until then menus are printed, until the water glasses filled, until your cocktail shaken, until the music spinning, full disclosure on “Fireside” is clandestine.

The best part of this over used childhood treat is in the applying of heart to transform the ordinary into the somewhat extravagant.  The parts themselves are simple, but together they transform into a classic.  Since the best part about the s’more concept is the interactive involvement of everyone, a active role will play a part in the enjoyment of this dessert.

The underwhelming part of the this treat is the reason why I don’t even think that the s’more is good.  It is this gooey glob with a single note sweetness.  Let’s be honest, it’s boring.  Outside of the bonfire, it’s bland.  The novelty trumps taste, the overall impression being lack luster.  There are only two flavor profiles, being chocolate and graham.  I think I can do better.

Unfortunately this is call I can tell you until El Che opens its doors, until there is wood for the hearth, until someone can slide your credit card.  Until then, keep your tongues anxious and your minds curious.

A Change is Going to Come

Tomorrow I am going to say a few words that are going to change my life.  I know its going to happen because I am the one deciding to follow the opportunity for a new job.  So tomorrow I am going to tell my current kitchen adios, its been short and mostly fun.

I am afraid to do it because I know that it is very unexpected, and I don’t want to say goodbye to my friends.  I feel like I am sitting at a point where I am going to tip into a new direction, but nobody else around me knows that the mountain is going to roll with a different slope.  I have changed my life so many times that it’s daunting because I know what is in store.  I am not sure I want to do it again.  Start afresh and anew, undo everything just to redo it in another manner.  Close the shop, move everything, unpack, get resettled and acquainted with the surroundings, develop a bond with the people around.

Since attending pastry school 5 years ago, I have lived 4 different apartments and have worked in (kiki’s, custom house, girl and the goat, publican, farmhouse, province, cicchetti, deleece, now la sirena) 9 kitchens.  That is a lot of life change for one girl.  This constant shifting and continual movement is making me quite tired.  I am exhausted of starting over, of turning the page over again and seeing a white sheet.

Am I afraid to do it again?  Yeah, kinda.  Am I excited?  I am too tired to fully answer that question right now.  Truthfully I am not entirely sure how the situation is going to unravel, I cannot predict what the reaction will be.

Today was the last day to be simply today, par for the course, clear sailing, everything is just like it normally is for a Saturday.  Tomorrow we set sail for a new course, to chase a new star.