Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sleep more, Drink less

I'm sitting at Six Arms right now sipping a fantastic Ruby beer, contemplating dinner. Sometimes I feel like my entire life revolves around making and consuming food. Well basically it does. By the way, if you haven't tried the Ruby beer here, you should. It looks a bit like strawberry lemonade and tastes like a mouth full of raspberries but without losing that distinct beer flavor. It's fantastic.

Not much to say for this weekend. I ate at Azuma Sushi in West seattle. The Mango Fandango roll is mouthwatering. I think this place, an old favorite of mine, is way underrated. Their miso is the best I've had in the city and everything is fairly priced. Good stuff!!

It's sunny this weekend. FINALLY. I don't feel at all like summer is coming. In fact if feels like winer again most days and it's freaking June! I can't believe my workweek starts again tomorrow. The weekends seem so short these days. Time really does fly as you get older. I'm struggling with how to really enjoy this summer when I only have 2 days off a week and I'm usually so exhausted I just want to sleep them away. Last summer, I worked 7 days a week and about 90hr weeks so I had no summer and wanted to die at the end of it. Now I've narrowed that work week down to 5 days and about 70 hrs so I think I should still be able to enjoy a little sun. I'm thinking hot afternoons of kayaking, mexican food and margaritas...mmmm. That might be a perfect day for me. Okay Okay I have nothing really to say today. I need to go home and cook some dinner. After I stuff myself with tater tots. They are so tasty here. And I have no self control when it comes to fried foods apparently. I refuse to serve them at my restaurant so maybe thats why I continue to gorge myself on them when I'm away.

My goals for this next week: Sleep more, drink less, grow some balls and ask out my produce guy whom I have had a crush on for about 10 months now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new!

It has been way too long since I have been on here. So many interesting blogs to read. Mostly I have been consumed with cooking lately. Things at the restaurant have exploded and business is bigger than ever. All this is good news but since our staff has not increased, it's meant a lot more hours for me.

I'm still in the midst of training my new staff since everyone left a little over a month ago. My sous is doing a great job. She is young and motivated. The whole process has made me realize how grateful I am for my culinary education. There are a lot of basics that I know, that I realize I probably wouldn't without the schooling. I've also hired a new line cook, who is great but doesn't really have a background in french technique. That has been fun to teach and it's always great to see someone become a better cook.

I have taken over the pastry position (I feel like there should be some sort of menacing music inserted here, dun dun dun). This is a challenge. Pastry is something I enjoy immensely as a hobby but not so much under the pressure of the professional kitchen. I think my ice cream skills are improving, this is what I tell myself anyways, despite my freezers constant ploy to destroy me. It's completely unreliable. Sometimes, or more often frequently, I have the ice cream bowl in there for three or four days and it's still not frozen through. Needless to say, using a half frozen bowl to spin your ice cream is a lost cause. Get ready for some seriously icy cream, and not in a good way. I find chocolate to be the most challenging item for me to work with. Anyone who actually works in chocolate, I'm sure is aware if it's infinite uses but I can only seem to come up with a handful....brownie, tart, mousse, creme, ice cream (again?), cake (isn't that basically the same as the brownie?) ect. I wish I could say the list goes on but it doesn't. That's it, thats all i've got. I'm thinking it may be time to visit the bookstore and stock up on some new pastry books. These are some of the things that have recently appeared
or are still on the Poco menu. Seared salmon, with asparagus puree, squash pasta and beurre blanc. Salt Springs mussels marinara with housemade angel hair pasta and fresh basil. Spiced lamb carpaccio with citrus, mint and olives.

Just to make this last month extra interesting, my less-than-reliable junker of a car finally went kaput on me. It is still lying lifeless in our garage at the restaurant. At first I was panicked, what will I do without my mode of transport???? It actually didn't really occur to me until around 4AM Monday morning when I happened to wake up and realize
I had no way to get to work at 6AM for my other job. I called a cab. Turns our our public transport is lacking and there are no available buses at that hour. Long story short, I bought a car. I am now the proud owner of a 2006 Mini Cooper. After 9 years of barely-running cars, this is a breath of fresh air. Oh the feeling of drive up a hill without the worry of rolling back down. I can't express to you the pleasure I feel every time I cruise around the hill or wherever knowing i'll make it to my destination trouble free. Also, it's damn cute!

Anyhow, thats all for now. I need to muster myself up and get to work already!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Final Words for Mandy

To my dear friend Mandy, who left Seattle today for an adventure across the western United States and eventually to Maine, I love you dearly and will miss you more than I have words to say. I'm not very good at goodbyes and I know this will continue to sink in for weeks before I truly feel the depth of your absence. It's been such a pleasure to know you for the last 2 years and i don't know what life is going to look like yet without you in it. I'm counting on October in Puerto Rico so don't you dare cancel! I wish you the best and I hope this adventure turns out to be a life changing one that sets you on the road to a life of happiness, success and peace. I love you! A little note from outside Stump Town Coffee to you, wherever you are.

P.S. Don't forget to write your blog, I'll be checking and stalking you by text if you don't!

Fried Chicken Dinner

Last night I finally made it to the fried chicken dinner at Spring Hill in West Seattle. This definitely lived up to its hype. The plate of chicken could have fed 10-12 easily and we shared it with 5. There was probably 8 pieces left over, none went to waste though. The chicken was juicy and tender and perfectly crisped on the outside. The sides stood their own with the chicken. Buttery mashed potatoes and brown gravy, charred broccoli, lemony cucumber and radish, perfectly tender spatzle bathed in a creamy sauce, and fluffy jalapeno cornbread. Perfection. Wash this down with a whiskey cocktail and I'm in heaven.

With the addition of two mammoth size meatballs, and a white pasta, the tab with tip, only ran us $37/person. This is a steal. You have to book your reservation of at least 4, around three weeks in advance as they only make 10 of these dinners each monday. I highly recommend getting about six friends together and indulging in this experience! You will NOT regret it. While you're at it, try some of the playful and expertly designed desserts. They are unique and delightful.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So many things...

So much has happened in the last few weeks, none expected. My neatly laid plans fell through the cracks oh so quickly. My good friend lost her place to live and took up residence in my tiny studio with me for the last 3 wks or so. Needless to say, it's difficult to get much done personally with someone else living practically on top of you. I'm glad I could be of help though. As of my last post, we did have a brilliant dinner. Here are some pics of making baked gnocchi with a gorgonzola pear sauce. It was really tasty but a little chewy. They overworked the potato a bit and developed too much of the gluten. We also had steamed artichokes with lemon butter sauce, roast chicken and bacon brussels sprouts. It was fantastically delicious. We paired all of this with about 10 bottles of wine and champagne. It was a lush evening but so very needed.

My sister cracking up at her lack of gnocchi making skills. It was pretty funny to watch!

I can't wait to make this a tradition although next time I'm making people bring their dishes cooked from home so i'm not stuck with three days worth of dishes to do.

I officially started my second job, which is exhausting. It has made me extremely grateful for my job at Poco, and for cooking in general. I've decided that I am not a front-of-house kind of person. I like being behind the scenes and I think I'll just stick with that. I guess for now it's broadening my horizons and forcing me out of my comfort zone. Working 60-70 hrs a week is not ideal but it is nice to know the bills are getting paid and school loans are slowly dwindling.

Now that my friend is moving out of my place and off to Maine tomorrow, it's time to get back on track. I spent the weekend BBQing on Vashon, shooting guns in Bothell, and dining at Via Tribunali on the Hill. What a lovely weekend. I out-shot my friend who took me which was funny since I haven't shot a gun in probably 5 yrs. Forgot how much I enjoy it. I feel like that sounds a little creepy but I think most people who have shot one would agree.

Via Tribunali was great. We were there for Seattle Restaurant Week and still managed to spend a pretty penny. We started with clams in white wine and a charcuterie plate. Both good but the meat was a little dry, like it had been sitting out awhile. We followed up with two pizzas, one margarita and the other prosciutto, arugula and fresh tomato. They were very tasty and very large. We definitely took leftovers home, which i ate for breakfast. Lastly for dessert we had a rum cake and chocolate gelato with coffee. The rum cake was shaped quite interestingly. I can't imagine how the chef let that design go without a good laugh. We certainly shared one. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture.

Thats all for now.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fresh Starts!

2010 is a year of change for me. I have recently moved from greenwood to capitol hill. For the first time in my life, i am living alone, which turns out to be the best decision i've made in a long time. I absolutely love living alone! I thought i would be lonely but it turns out i've been living in a constant overload of people. It's nice to experience a bit of quiet once and awhile.

My good friend and sous chef just got married and a week later informed me that she is pregnant and also moving in 2 weeks. I'm happy for her but also overwhelmed. I hired a new sous for Poco and am excited to start collaborating. I then found out that my pastry chef is also moving in 6 weeks. Have not found a replacement yet and i'm considering taking it on myself. I tried this before and ended up really stressed so we shall see.

I also finally graduated in december so i am adjusting to life without school. Although i do NOT miss writing papers, studying, constantly being on the verge of a total breakdown, i do however, miss the social aspect and learning. Already i find myself considering further education. It seems i secretly enjoy the never-ending stress of it all.

So in light of much change, i have decided to go with the flow and continue on this course. I am taking the months of April, May and June to do some things for myself that i have been talking about doing for ages. First, i am cooking at home. This may sound silly since i am a chef but i rarely cook for myself. I can't believe i'm writing this but i'm actually kind of tired of going out. Plus its pretty pricey! So healthier foods cooked by me.... Second, i'm working on getting in shape again. Culinary school and being a chef can be a little hard on the body. Since moving, i can now walk to work, which is approximately 8 blocks, slightly uphill. I found myself a bit winded recently and was highly embarrassed by my total lack of cardio ability.

I am also taking on a second job. Those school loans are a bitch and they have now hit. So i guess i am going to be a barista 2 mornings a week. I haven't done this since high school and hadn't really planned on it, but the job presented itself and it's just the supplementary income i need.

Anyhow, i've decided to blog about the next couple months and my trials and errors in an attempt to keep myself accountable and also to get back into writing, which is truly where i wish to be. Yesterday was day 1 of 90. So 89 more to go.

Breakfast today consisted of muscat grapes and green tea. Probably should eat some eggs or something of substance. I'm still trying to re-adjust my body to eating breakfast. For months i just stopped buying groceries, so i would stay at home until i became desperately hungry and then would head out for the day. As a result, i'm not used to eating until around 2pm. This doesn't work if you are working out 6 days/week. Breakfast is necessary. I hate cereal so i'm trying to find creative things to do with yogurt and cottage cheese. I absolutely hate flavored yogurt so i pretty much have one option there.

My agenda for today includes getting off the computer and doing "Yoga X" and "Ab Ripper X." Just the sound of it makes my body hurt. Then i'm off to Trader Joe's for chicken etc. for dinner which i am cooking with 3 of my girlfriends. I believe the menu is roast chicken with pan sauce, gnocchi, bacon brussels, artichokes with lemon butter and strawberry shortbread. All of this will include ample wine and champagne. It's a celebration, not exactly sure of what but it's going to be fun. Pictures will follow. Cheers!