Thursday, July 24, 2008

I taught an Irishman how to drink

Our buddy Brad, he who is one half of the duo who usually helps get me tanked when I go visit him at 5 Seasons, is currently working a second bartending job at a new place in Dunwoody. Monday was their opening night, so a few of us piled into the car and strolled down GA400 for a visit.

They had the usual opening night mishaps, such as the credit card machine and POS system not working (these things tend to happen), and the A/C seemed to be on the fritz as well. One of the owners, a female who I am sure has never worked a food service job in her life, picked out the uniforms. Brad gets to wear a tuxedo shirt, which is fine. Kind of impractical at times, but fine. Oh, but the girls outfits are ridiculous. Picture this: a halter top tuxedo shirt which is unbuttoned a bit with collar turned up, complete with bow tie, cumberbund, the teensiest little butt-twicher of a skirt (so short that buttcheeks are visible even though the girls are all wearing teeny shorts under them - although i don't think the male patrons are complaining), baby doll socks and high heels. Yes, you heard me right. The woman has all the girls running around waiting tables in high heels.

I worked front-of-the-house in restaurants and catering for many years, and lemme tell you that at the end of a long shift, regardless if you’re wearing super expensive shoes which are made for food service folks, your feet will hurt. I saw those girls (none who look to be a day over 19) and I wanted to hug them. I knew they’d be in pain later.

When I was 22 and working at a restaurant in Florida, I pitched a hissy fit because Converse hi tops were not part of my boss' “vision” (she was insisting I go out and buy an expensive pair of Reeboks to compliment my ugly-ass uniform). I wonder how much whining it will take before this owner chick caves and lets them wear whatever they want on their feet?

Anyhoo – other than the ridiculous outfits, I like the place. They have raw oysters on the menu. OYSTERS! I love oysters. That’s one more thing that waxes nostalgia for me about Annapolis. We used to go to Middleton’s for oyster shooters (the boy and j would have shrimp shooters). An oyster shooter at Middleton’s is a shot glass with a bit of cocktail sauce topped with a raw oyster, accompanied by a shot glass of Bud Lite or Miller Lite. One slurps down the shooter then downs the beer. It’s more of a novelty thing than anything, but I love them. If you ask nicely, you can get the bartenders to make you a “real” oyster shooter, which is basically similar to a very short Bloody Mary, complete with vodka, and a raw oyster. I had Brad make me one of those. It brought back another round of fleeting bittersweet memories of Annapolis again, and for a moment there I thought I could smell the salt water.

One of the other owners, who is married to the chick with the bad outfit vision, was milling around and came over to talk to us. He’s Irish, but he sounds like he’s been here a while because his accent is rather Americanized (and I’m not one to talk, since I sound as American as apple pie, unless I’ve had a drink or two and then I can turn on that Savannahian or Parisian in a heartbeat). We got to talking about oyster shooters, something he had never heard of. I told him he ought to put them on the menu, that people would really go for it (I knew I would definitely have them when I come in), and we discussed how much he could charge for them. This was all a new concept to him, and I was happy to talk about something I do love very much. Brad made us each one, and the Irishman carefully watched me dunk mine back. Then he did his... and his face turned red, and he clutched his heart.

“What is this? You’re killing me!” he croaked.
“Are you okay? You’re not supposed to sip on it, just tip it back. You going to live?”

About a half hour later, as I was walking back from the bathroom, he grabbed my arm and wondered aloud at how I was still walking around without falling down drunk. “That vodka will kill you! And you had two of them!”, as he drank his Guinness.

Silly Irishman.

We’re going back on Saturday. I’ve got to plead my case to get him to put oyster shooters on the menu.

Friday, July 18, 2008

There’s a first time for everything

Tonight marks my first time at making ravioli. I was inspired by this post by Michael Ruhlman, and thought, “I can do that”. I have made fresh pasta countless times, and it’s really heavenly and light-tasting. But filled pasta? Never. I didn’t even remember that I’d never made ravioli before – it didn’t occur to me. Sounds pretty silly, I know; but I just saw that picture on Ruhlman’s post, and j’en avais envie.

I’m always up for trying new pasta dough recipes. So far this year, my favorite technique has been Jamie Oliver’s. but today I needed a little manual labor, a little aggression taken out in the form of kneading by hand. Not that today was particularly hard on the workfront, but we do have some looming deadlines and a new internal product rolling out very soon at New Big Corporate, so by the time I was done dealing with Corporate Suits, I felt the need to come home and get kneading. And then pressing through the pasta rollers. (so very therapeutic. Makes me feel like Ken at the end of A Fish Called Wanda, who runs his steamroller right over Otto and then proceeds to chant “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” which I tend to chant a lot, much to the boy’s annoyance. In fact I annoyed the boy so much with this chant that he actually LOOKED up how much wood a wood chuck could chuck. The answer to that question is 600 pounds {or 700, say some sources}. And there, folks, is your Useless Trivia for today).

So I used Ruhlman’s recipe for the filling as a guideline, adding to the ricotta some minced red jalapeño, minced shallot and chive, a little bit of tangerine zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The eggs are from Moore Farms, which is the only place I get my eggs from nowadays. Fresh egg yolks stand up higher than ones sitting in the grocery store for a month and a half. In fact, these yolks stood up so high that I had some difficulty folding the pasta over them.

It was about this time when I realized that I’d never made ravioli before and that I had no idea what the heck I was doing. But I didn’t let that stop me. I tossed a couple of them in salted boiling water, where the pasta proceeded to stretch and become the Incredible Expanding Ravioli. I hauled them out, splashed on some brown butter and chopped parsley, handed the boy a fork and dug in.

The verdict? The boy said it was “frou-frou” but not in a bad way. "For a refined palate", he says. He ate a couple of bites then left the rest to me, which I happily dug into. I really liked this a lot, and I just loved the yolk oozing out all over my fork when I cut into the pasta. It had incredible lemon flavor, and I think maybe next time I’ll hunt down some lemon thyme and sprinkle that on top of the plated pasta instead of parsley. It’s definitely a dish I’ll make again, and probably for a bunch of chicks, the next time any of my degenerate friends come over, that is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

play with your food

do you play with your food? well you should. at least, in a sanitary way.

i havent posted much at all lately, so i figured i'd bring you up to speed with a couple of choice photos....

.... starting with this first one, taken on my birthday. the boy made me King crab legs and a ribeye steak. i love me some Surf 'n Turf. that coupled with several glasses of good champagne, and i turned into a huge dork.

Thanks to Sig & Friends for procuring the crab. You guys are fantastic, and not without a certain je ne sais quoi sex appeal (although that Wikipedia photo is absurdly not attractive).

Up next! Bastille Day. i came home from work to find the house smelling amazing, like Good Beef Stock amazing. the boy wanted me to have a full-on Fronch day, so he made Fronch dip sandwiches and Fronch onion soup for dinner (recipes adapted from this and that). He considered making Fronch fries, but thought it would be too much. At least he didn't make Fronch toast, and I didn't ask him for my two dollars.

(oh man i 'm such a geek)

I call this photo The French dip eating French dip. if you want to see more photos, email me and i'll send you the link to my flickr account. there's all kinds of photos on there, most of them bad photography of food, but most are silly. but hey, that's my life. i'm one big Silly.

Your eyes do not deceive you. that is a Californian wine there, not French. but hey, i heard some story years ago about crops not surviving and French vines shipped in to replace them, or vice-versa. something of that sort. and frankly, i prefer Spanish reds to American and French reds, so there.

While the Beast was still cooking, i turned on the tv to find exerpts of Duran Duran's latest concert playing on VH1 Classic, so i danced around the living room, still in my work clothes, while the boy shook his head and made fun of me.

I can't believe that July is half way over; I just don't want the summer to end.

because i'm just that much of a geek

i love this!!

Millennium Falcon Cake

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

thank you

to mrs B for shlepping down to the city and taking me to lunch today.

i had two glasses of chianti (no fava beans) and coffee with a shot of baileys with lunch. and now i'm listening to a boring conference call.........