I am perplexed.
Unemployment is at one of the all time highs. All the articles and reports you read say graduating college seniors have never been more challenged in finding work. The restaurant business is now ranked 2nd in terms of GNP (= many, many available jobs). We should have a PILE of applications, yet we continually ask our stars to work more hours than they ideally want to, because we can't find enough excellent prospects.
Where are you!?
**If you read this, and you know someone in the business of hospitality--smiling, attentive, ethical, responsible...who might be happier building a career with our group, PLEASE: email@example.com
We seek only the best--and those that seek growth and management, as WE seek growth!
There is this beet dish that went on the summer menu @ Moonstones today and it comes with some risk. In 26+ years of marriage, all of them spent in the restaurant business, I have had occasion to wonder "Will this be the day that she finally says hit the road Jack" (Scott, Jack...do the math)
But of those times, as I once chronicled in my column in Merrimack Valley Magazine, none had me as nervous as the night Chef Rob Jean cooked Kathy his Beet Ravioli*. She swooned, smiled, eyes rolled back...kicked me under the table, whispered something to chef about cyandide in my next course...I maybe don't remember the facts EXACTLY how they happened, but suffice it to say; That ravioli is sick.
And for those of you who "Don't like beets", get over it. You probably, actually, DO like beets but it has become so commonplace to say you don't that it's as automatic as watching the evening news and believeing that they are actually telling you something important!
Do you like butter? Sugar? Fresh Pasta?
Chef explained once, that the concentrated flavor of the beet (and butter) comes from cooking the beets dry--and avoiding all but a touch of water, to keep the flavor uber-concentrated. Serioulsy...If you don't like THESE beets, pray for your soul!
During the planning stages for last Wednesday nights Oyster and Oenophiles Rhone Wine Dinner, somehow--though I don't know how--Bar Manager Kim Mello and Chef Rob Jean decided that the last course--Dessert-- would featured Green Chartreuse. If I remember, I will ask her how it came to be. Green Chartreuse has been around since the cavemen. It's often the green-chartreuse* colored sticky-dusty bottle long forgotten, keeping lonely company with the sticky-dusty Galliano, the once-upon-a-time star of the Harvey Wallbanger. (Huh? Exactly.)
But like so many old-school ingredients, and the emerging preference of the bitter profile, Green Chartreuse is on the comeback trail!
So, anyway, chef agreed to use green chartreuse with the last oysters of the night--and decided to create a granita (flavored ice) with plum. But, as it goes in our somewhat unpredicatble world of nature and a bazillion ingredients, chef learned something the day before the dinner...Green Chartreuse does not freeze! (Too much alcohol) Of course, he figured something out, and it was excellent--as always.
*And, something else we learned; Green Chartreuse the color, is named after Green Chartreuse the liquer. I'll bet you figured it was the other way around.
** Oh, and we learned one more thing about Green Chartreuse. It's not a good idea to drink it straight, for two hours. After a wine dinner.
Every 1st Wednesday @ Moonstones, we host a Global Wine Dinner featuring food and wine pairings from various country based themes, assembled brilliantly each and every time by Chef Rob Jean and Bar Manager Kim Mello. Two months ago, after an amazing French dealio, the "wine guy" generously provided by our favorite wine purveyor--MS Walker--joined me at the bar for a night cap. He had "such a great time" , and was so impressed by our food and service, that he insisted we let him join for a future theme. We brainstormed, he mentioned the Rhone Valley--and how apropos the whites are for our impending summer season--somehow oysters were mentioned, and voila! A theme was born.
The next day, I passed the info to management, to create the promotional material, and a flyer was displayed in the lobby. All was good to go, except for one thing...no one (me) consulted Chef! As he strolled out of the kitchen he asked "What's this all about?" Oops. "Um, well chef, see...oysters...French whites..." Chef, who rarely flusters (so rarely and so barely, that it actually was kind of fun the only time I ever saw it happen) put 2 and 2 together. "So, you want me to build a five or six course dinner around oysters. I'll figure something out" (He also requested that we lose the "orgy" reference as part of the promo and exhibit a bit more class...and we agreed. Mostly. Though one of us (me) is known to enjoy pushing the limit every once in awhile.
Fast forward to last night. Words will fall so short, of how amazing this dinner was**. So, I won't waste your time by talking about the creamy tang of the lemon mayonnaise that accompanied the lightly, golden fried oysters--or the amazing and perfect pairing of a wine made from grapes that we had never heard of, but which displayed a minerality that came from the soil that was once an ancient sea bed. Nor will I write (much) about how the seafood stew--with NO cream--had spicy coins of chorizo, and floating oysters and the "best shrimp I ever ate"--huge and tender, with the juicy, glorious heads on...or the perfectly toasted and garlic-rubbed and sprinkled-with-sea-salt focaccia toast sticking out of the bowl soaking up the aromatic broth, or the ridiculously spot-on red wine pairing.
I will say this only. At the end of the meal, both wine connossieur and wine rep--both in attendance--agreed that in all the years they had done wine dinners, they had never seen something like this-- 5 courses of oysters-- (times 30 guests...hail to the boys and girls in the kitchen who shucked all 370 prior to the evening) and each course better than the one before. You know the food (and wine) is amazing when the room cheers each time the chef walks in to explain the next course.
My father-in-law, as my guest, must have said 5 times through sparkling eyes and sated smile... "I'm glad we married you"
Of course, all I did, was conceive an idea with help--and then keep it a secret from the chef! He never flinched.
**Writing about food can be really..."empty". One can write horror stories, and evoke revulsion. Or thrillers and invoke a faster heartbeat--a real sense of fear. Sex copy creates it's own physiological response, to a variety of levels...but writing about food? There is just no way you can come even close to tantalizing senses the way food in the mouth actually does
Every once in awhile, I wonder if I should sell my house and move closer to the beach—making it that much easier to read the Sunday Times with my feet in sand, with no sound but the sea.
That dream was inspired recently by the subject of my last blog entry, my father-in-law Jim. He did some work “for a fella” and also helped out his son. That fellow owns a beach house, like, right on the beach. In gratitude, he offered the house to my father-in-law for a couple of weeks. And, luckily, I’m in good with the old man. And, to stay that way…before arriving at the house, my daughter in I stopped at the store to grab some provisions. Fruit, nuts, Oreos….
Fast forward to check out.
Cashier #1 said: “Do you have a Stawp n Shawp cahd honey?”
(Without smirking, I said “No ma'am”)
Cashier #1 said: "You're nawt from around heyah, are ya?"
(I said "No ma'am")
Cashier #1 said “So then, you don’t need any of these sweep stake coupawns?”
(I said no again)
Cashier #2 overheard cahier #1 and said: “I need some. I’m out”
Cashier #1: “How many hon”
Cahier #2: “Foa” (pronounced in two syllables, just like “boa”, in, what Bette Midler might wear around her neck..named after the snake. I’m guessing.)
Cashier #1: “Four honey?”
Cashier #2: “Yes please. Foa moa.”
(I believe, I smirked)
The exchange…so typically New England brought me rushing back to my 3rd year in Eastern Massachusetts (OK..New Hampshire at that moment! Same thing) when, like so many times before, found myself asking myself in disbelief… “Where the hell am I”
It was, again, in a supermarket (the food stoa)…the dairy aisle as I recall.
And the loud-speaker announcement reminded, after some other promotional message:
“Welcome to the Hudson Maah-ket Basket. Where you get maw-faw yaw daw-lah”
Ask me sometime about the marriage of Dawn and Don. Pronounced Don and Dawn.
I don’t make this shit up.