Did you ever have one of those days, when you wake up at 4am, and can't get back to sleep. So, you work awhile, then shave, and--as getting older dictates--you run the razor around the ear, thinking of your uncle on your mother's side with the ear-muffs, that aren't actually. And you nick yourself--the smallest of cuts--and then it won't stop bleeding for, like 3 hours.
And you leave the house, with a wad of tissue stuffed in your ear, wishing you had time for a nap, and drag ass all the way to the car--and realize you forgot the car key. And you call your self a few choice names, and think to yourself; "Who the...heads to the car without their car key?"
And you stomp back up the stairs--and in stomping--the draw of cold air makes you realize that you never zipped actually your fly. And you wonder, who doesn't zip their fly--between the ages of, like 6, and 85? (The guy with the bloody tissue stuffed in his ear, that's who)
Then, when you arrive at the top of the stairs, the door won't open--and you think to yourself--who the hell goes MONTHS without fixing the front door.
Hello, my name is Scott Plath. If you should find me wandering aimlessly...
Our graduating college senior curated her 1st art show on this past Thursday at The School of the Art Institute, in Chicago. "Mama" texted me at 11PM the night before, after my two too-many beers with the chef, that she wanted to seize upon Southwest's offer to fly us there at 6AM, for $99.00. Surprise!
When we woke at 8AM, (I would have been ready had she stuck to the 6AM foolishness) she suggested we could still make the 10AM. (yes, she's crazy like that) She booked, we booked, and...made the 10AM--after re scheduling an appointment or two! (The Stylos' must really think I hate the dentist's chair!) From the airport, Hotels.com (or was it Samedaybooking.com?) hooked us up! A room right across the street from the gallery, one block from Midway's Orange Line. Too smooth. (Advance planning is so overrated!)
"Tara" was not expecting us to show up for her opening. We made it. Her surprise, and joy was evident..she may have even gotten misty, though it was hard for me to tell through my own. ("allergies")
While there, eldest daughter Aislyn joined--she's the one who has been offerred the GM job at the restaurant that currently pays her bills, but will not accept until the offer is presented on paper, clearly defined--expectations and compensation. Ha! "Feisty" my daughters three. ("Damned allergies")
Unfortunately, youngest daughter-tigress, Kel-bell, couldn't join...too busy kicking ass at school--while "holding it down" at The Lowell Boys and Girls Club.
Post show and accolades and flowers and "allergies", dinner was at Maude's Whiskey Bar--Perhaps my favorite Chicago restaurant--and that's no easy choice. You KNOW a restaurant is great when you are excited for the (double) side of lentils! I strongly suggest sending children to college in Chicago, and visiting as frequently as possible. We may need to open a restaurant there...
Home on Friday, via another 10AM flight--directly to the house to change--then a drive to Springfield, MA, to attend the wake and funeral of Gerry Midghal, the father of my college roommate. He was 89. He refused to enter a nursing home... "Over my dead body." He passed away two days after entering, providing the strongest possible evidence that when "Bird" (my roommate) stated in his eulogy: "Dad was the kind of man who did what he said he was going to do." (I like funerals, simply because you never have to blame allergies)
Though no "Maude's", Champions at the Springfield Marriott provided ample backdrop to celebrate old friends and an unplanned reunion thanks to Gerry... albeit "short and sweet."
Saturday morning, straight to the 10AM funeral, then to the highway. Lowell General Hospital's annual fundraisee gala "ball" was at The Lowell Memorial Auditorium, and after many years, Kathy finally convinced me to attend. We made it on time. It was a great night for awhile--until the point that 50 or so white (and gray!) "60 somethings" were dancing to "Lady Marmalade" in their tuxedoes and gowns. Now THAT shit almost brought tears to my eyes...nearly completing a weekend tri-fecta of emotion.
Man oh man. Take me home and put my ass to bed.
Rumor is, the restaurants both "crushed it" this weekend, and I am told, that the best part? I wasn't there. (I couldn't agree more, though I miss it when I am away) What a crew I have...I am truly blessed. (Reaching for the Kleenex...)
Though the "official numbers" are not yet in from Lowell's Winterfest celebration, COBBLESTONES served up nearly 18 gallons of soup on that first Friday night, and maybe another 15G or so on Saturday/yesterday--the most soup ever for the Souper Bowl competition, that we have now "won", three years in a row*. (* Either the judges award, or the people's choice) This year, we won judges award for Shrimp Bisque with shrimp toast, a collaborative effort between (3) chefs, all adding critique until the final product was judged, and took home top honors! (We wish there was some left for you...)
The People's Choice award went (again!) to soup "nemesis", Frenchy, who always comes up with some creative, "old school" soup interpretation of a favorite dish-- This year, Stuffed Pepper and who won a couple of year's ago with his Baked Potato Soup. We love this guy--not only for his great soup creativity, but also because, as such a great customer, he knows that COBBLESTONES Potato Skins are "listed 9th" on our menu, in order of appetizers! Good stuff.
Sorry, that I have know idea who won the DogSled races, or the Chocolate Festival, or The Snowman contest, or the...We stay pretty COBBLESTONES focused over those two days...but one more impressive thing about Winterfest? How many people actually tried our Mardi Gras special, Bayou Shrimp with Alligator and Pork Jowl! In three stages of "fun"-- I get to conceive a recipe idea, the Chef gets to figure out how to make it work, and youz guys get to enjoy the final product! Lots of funny faces BEFORE trying it, followed by lots of "whoa" and "oh my god" s to follow! More good stuff. (When people ask, "What does Alligator taste like?", I generally pause, think real hard and say... "Um, like crocodile, but with more bite.") (I'm so funny, right?)
Only 123 days left to...FOLK FESTIVAL!!!
Though moonstones is our "global" themed restaurant, Lowell is forever the urban center that has provided the melting-pot back drop that makes it so very special. Yesterday, while in Cobblestones kitchen prepping for (another) sold out Valentines/Golden Gloves/Friday night beat-down, I realized that English/American "Kenny" weas talking to Brazilian "Rose" (14 years!) in Portuguese. Thinking it was "Jonathan" until I looked over carefully and inquired, I was told that Jonathan speaks a different dialect of Portuguese, and Spansih, and so does Frankie. Colombia-born Dario (18 years!), speaks Spanish as well, but communicates just fine with other Portuguese speaking staff. Meanwhile, I learned, that Renaldo and his Sudan-born brother speak Sudanese, Dom the grill guru speaks Cambodian and Sous Chef Steve speaks Italian!
How funny, yet apropos, that COBBLESTONES menu and theme celebrates America!
Once upon a time in my career, I actually spent many more hours a week in the kitchen. (These days, they almost chase me out...) I forget now, how much fun that can be, after a couple of hours yesterday. Especially when the atmosphere is charged prior to a holiday. Kitchens are already all about energy. But in the next (72) hours, beginning with (500) people tonight, the chefs will be "cranking" while also taking personal responsibility for assisting with the whole romance thing! People celebrate love tonight, and many choose us to help deliver on that promise! And we love that.
In COBBLESTONES kitchen yesterday, two chef personalities at play--prepping, chopping, slicing, sauteeing, stirring--while the "sensei" or mentor, Chef Rob, like a tug-boat, leading the others steadily, slowly, with purpose and focus, while telling a story, creating perfect diamond-cuts on the duck breast skin, while watching those around him-- knowing that perfection need not be quick--and often the opposite;
And across the room, Matt, our newest sous chef and someone we hope will be around for a long time--playing the role of "the hare"-- Fast talking, excited, trimming short ribs, wondering if we should use the trim for "an amzing strogonoff" or won tons or dumplings or ravioli or...MAC AND CHEESE! And then, "grilled cheese...what could be better in the middle of south station, people in a hurry getting on trains.." and "Mac and cheese...we should open a shop" and "Once upon a time I wanted to...." Great fun. Great guys. Great energy. Great chefs.
Over to moonstones a couple hours later (where we went on a wait, on ANOTHER Wednesday night, the night before a sold out Valentines Day!), ok, over to moonstones a couple of hours later, and as I walked in the back kitchen door, I was greeted by sous chef Tiffani Natinsky with; "Do you want to tatse something AMAZING?." Duh. (She wasn't lying...tonight's chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa are...SICK!) In the next hour or so, instead of dinner, I sampled-- Baby radishes ("Aren't they SO cute!"), Pearl Onions, Mushrooms--Shitakes, Golden Feet, Shameji, Hedgehogs, and olive oil poached Oysters, duck confit, arugala pesto, black forest ham, candied pecans (in my head they sound like pea-CAHNs), some ridiculous croutons... ME: "How do you get these so delicious!?" SHE: "Lots and lots of butter"
I love this.
We can't wait to take care of you *tonight. We love you.
*If you couldn't get it in tonight, we celebrate love all weekend long--flowers, chocolates, champagne specials...and chocolate covered strawberries especially for Sunday brunch. Morning love is hot.