I persevered for over a month, about 4 nights a week. I learned to chiffonnade. I made taramasalata but never learned how to spell it. It was the age of 'everything' crusted tuna loin and I was in awe that someone worked inches from a deep fryer all night. Everything had to be perfect. They cared. They taught. They were never degrading. In the end they weren't enrolled in my school's approved program and I had to leave for another restaurant. I bought Paul there for dinner, it was comp-ed (yay! $$$) and the head waiter said he recognized only my eyes, which he would see peering through the service window. They used the old school method of head waiters and side waiters. The head waiters were all in their 50s and did not tolerate the 'can't have garlic, onions cut crosswise or greens that have not been pre-chewed for me' crowd.
My time there was my first exposure to late night imbibing with the guys - this was my first experience as the only female in a kitchen, one that would happen too often. Monkey Bar across the street, still there, still notorious for changing owners more often than the bar mats - was divine.
In school I won a contest to choose the name for the new student newspaper (a la carte) and won a free dinner to any restaurant I chose. Paul and I went back to Oceana and racked up a $300 bill. I ordered calvados with an apple tart for dessert and got a rewarding nod of approval over the reading glasses of the aging waiter. To this day when we encounter a similar method of approval, we call it the 'calvados nod'. We also went there for a few anniversaries. This is how I remember white asparagus is in season in late April - it was always on the menu at that time.
The inside of Oceana was made to look like an ocean liner. The walls decked with murals to make you think you were on the open sea. They were best known for a copper fish that hung above the second floor bar, all nestled in a narrow but tall townhouse. I don't doubt that the same quality will endure in the new location. Oceana attracts and develops culinary talents (Christopher Lee before he was a somebody!) and will continue to do so. Translating the character of a townhouse with a restaurant with so much history will be hard to mimic in a modern, redesigned space. Rose just let go of Jack and he is sinking to the ocean floor.
Until July 31st yearly access is 50% off. I recently ditched many food mag subscriptions because I found that I toss them into a pile that I intend to read, but don't get to. I use this website more than any mag, and this is cheaper!
Go. Really. Celebrate Christmas in July and buy yourself something useful. Now.
I love poached eggs & hollandaise sauce should be a food group. On a rare weekend when I don't have the roommate lurking to see if the coffee is ready, I am free to create and tap into the culinary skill which is easily suppressed when I'm perturbed.
Perched on rounds of toasted potato bread are lump crab cakes, poached eggs and super lemony hollandaise. It reminds me I need to make some herbed white wine vinegar - project for next week! I really do want to attempt some Scotch eggs as my next breakfast project. Soon! I can't beleive it has been more than 2 years since salmon eggs benny.
Fast forward, present day, fast food is sometimes in our rotation after the gym. That can't make sense, can it? Well, if you're avoiding carbs, and it's 8pm - the last thing I'm doing after a long day is making dinner. Sometimes we head to Boston Market where it's easy to assemble a carb friendly meal (double side of creamed spinach or creamed spinach and broccoli or green beans), other times we might head to the salad bar of our gourmet grocery. Last night we went to KFC for their grilled chicken which is being promoted by Sandra Lee. That should have been a sign. I despise this woman mostly because she matches her shirt to the background decor on her show and it makes me want to puke. Pinky said he had KFC's grilled chicken when he was fully a bachelor one of the other million times we've tried to avoid carbs, and it was decent. Well. Last night's chicken was far from decent.
Have you ever seen a grill in a KFC? Nope. I submit that the chicken is flash grilled with the skin off for appearance sake, then frozen and shipped where it sits in a hot oven for hours until someone is silly enough to order it. If they left the skin on it would help the flavor, but not the fat content, and grilled chicken skin doesn't exactly adhere well to the meat. The piece of chicken was so small I thought they were doing a Cornish hen promo for a minute. Dry, sad, a shameful waste of an animal who gave its life for my stomach.
And the sides. Yikes. Pinky's green beans may have been green at some point, but were not when they got to his plate. Coleslaw was acceptable, and my corn on the cob wasn't awful, until they told me they only had ketchup packs of government invented margarine to smear on it. My side salad would have been acceptable if they provided anything other than a SPORK to eat it with. How very junior high of them. Wait, the food in junior high was better. The 'veal' patties weren't half bad when you piled it with every condiment available. I should have taken a cue from when I ordered the salad and they reacted as if the health department just walked in. I take it that is not a common request there. Blah.
Forgive the horn tooting, but I am a master soup blender/puree-er. In a professional kitchen, when you are first relegated to the salad station, after you prep your station you get to do the tasks no one else will do. In some cases not even the illegal immigrant hires will do these tasks. Peel grapes. Surgically remove veins from raw foie gras, puree soup. Not "make" soup mind you - this is after another chef has crafted the soup it gets passed to you. First you puree the soup with a home-depot version of a hand blender, then into the almighty Vita Mix blender, strain through a chinois "chino fino" in kitchen Spanish, using a ladle to press the solids. Depending on the soup sometimes you'd have to repeat this ordeal. White gazpacho was the worst. Trying to get stale bread and almonds smooth was an uphill battle. If I never see another chestnut again I'll be OK. Later on in my past career I never worked the grill station that put out the soup so I never got to make soup and pass it to an alternate peon, but I relished being done with those tasks when I took on hot appetizers & risotto.
Translating this skill to my home cooking life, I especially love soup during a week when I'm trying to only spend $50 on groceries for 7 days, when it's cold, and when there is an odd leftover. I can build an amazingly fast soup with a rotisserie chicken, some boxed stock, carrots, spinach and pasta (a MacGuyver recipe!) but I adore pureed vegetable based soups. One I make repeatedly - sweet potato with caramelized onions. I roast sweet potatoes, slice and caramelize a load of onions, and combine them with some stock in the food processor. Swirl in some apple butter and it's an elegant first course. Simmering some vegetables with onions, maybe garlic, and stock and then pureeing is the method for any veggie soup. This works for cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, asparagus, parsnips, and carrots. For carrot soup I like to throw in a load of ginger and big scoop of peanut butter, and garnish with wasabi peanuts. Easy. Cheap. When I want a garnish for cauliflower soup I slice up some Aidell's chicken apple sausage. For tonight's split pea I made a quick ham stock with the Easter Ham bone, sauteed onions in olive oil, added the split peas, stock and herbs with a bay leaf wrapped around it and puttered around facebook while it simmered. Then I pureed it, put it back in the pot, and added some leftover ham and shredded carrots because peas and carrots are funny together.
Maybe this summer I'll work on some cucumber soups (garnish with curry-coconut sorbet??) but I am retiring the soup portion of my dijon colored Le Creuset 6 QT until the fall.
Not many products have memorable packaging. Sunny delight does. Philadelphia cream cheese does. Bombay sapphire does. Now, imagine Philly cream cheese in a red tub instead of it's classic silver rectangle. Imagine Sunny D looking like a gallon of milk. And Bombay sapphire, imagine that as a behind-the-counter fifth of a liter instead of it's gorgeous blue glass. This entire departure from recognizable packaging is what Tropicana did. Old packaging on the left, new on the right. When I first saw the new carton at a meeting last month, I thought it was a generic brand. On it, 100% orange is more prominent than Tropicana. I likened it to a bland, white label black print store brand of canned beans. The only intriguing part of the new package was that the orange pour cap now looked like the outside of an orange. "Interesting, I wonder how much that adds to the price?" I thought.
I know, too much obsessing over a carton. Same juice and that's all that matters, right? Not to consumers. Tropicana is ditching the new packaging and returning to the familiar. Smart. Click my witty title for full, journalistic write-up.
I notice the rest of her groceries, and she had at least 4 cheeses, all with 'stuff' in them. Gouda with cumin, Gouda with mustard seed, Cahill's cheddar with Guinness and with sage. At the time I assumed she was serving them all together but as I write this I realize there may have been other plans for them. Served together they break a guideline for a cheese plate to not include more than one cheese with 'stuff' 'in it other than blue cheese. What was she doing with them? Blogging about them? Testing them as burger toppings? Giving them separately as gifts? I can't get my mind around it and should have asked her. Trivial I know, but as I don't socialize with other shoppers, this encounter sticks in my mind.