Seems so odd that I was sunning in Aegean just weeks ago. Now returning home, it's fall! Global warming perhaps, or just the sad fact the vacation is over and I am behind the stove again.
So last week I spent a couple days at my mom's house in Stamford, Connecticut. With it's haphazard looking skyline, it's downtown with no feeling of unity, it's not my favorite town. But I come here to see my dear mother and we usually end up eating a lot, with me usually at the helm, or stove! Then to digest, we go to the nearby beach, walking out on the jetty looking over the Long Island Sound or just along the beach. Below are some shots of the waning summer season.
I took a bike ride around the surrounding towns, through the hilly neighborhoods, some working class places I knew well from my years in high school. I passed road signs reminding me of the years I spent here till I shoved off for the Army and finally into various kitchens to learn my trade.
When I arrived refreshed from my ride, we ate my old time favorite, Aioli; not the sauce only but the fixins, steamed vegetables and fish accompanied by the aioli.
My mom hasn't made it for a while, and I think she missed a step but we
corrected it. She churned garlic and egg yolks in her mortar and
whisked in oil. "More garlic mom," I said! She concurred. The chef knows!
The next day was Labor Day. The air was cooler as I stepped out to inspect my mom's garden, the basil making its final push to be turned into pesto for later in the fall and winter.
Her neighbor Randy, the hunter, BBQ man from the Carolina's was already lighting his barbecue. "Hey, how you doin chef," he asked in his familiar Carolinian drawl! He was getting some ribs and chicken ready to smoke. We always exchange notes on gas grill versus charcoal. I much prefer his charcoal to my mom's gas grill, but you make do!
Now I am back to my own stoves at work, stoking the fires, dealing with menus, orders, parties, summer will be missed, but if seasons come and go I know it will be back again...hopefully soon!
Just finished the last lunch at work today, it felt like a three-week marathon! With endless hours of festive holiday parties, V.I.P.S., silly menus and annoying wait staff! I finally can gather my own mind around celebrating, and how do I do that? Cook, what else! I thought I would say a few things after folding my two dough’s for my morning brekkie! I can't wait to have some hand made loaves instead of a bagged loaf of supermarket sponge that my wife has in the fridge,that is a sin. The thought that it will be Christmas in just a few days hasn't really sunken in yet either,I guess it's because I'm too tired. As my eye's gaze over the rack of red wines I purchased between service at work,it is waiting to be drunk, and they will be! Tomorrow I will try my hand at some Panettone and then the annual Büche de Noel.(Will do some nice shots of that as well!) So before heading to bed I wait for my fancy Niçoise style bread to rise and will shoot a picture of it in the morning light as well retard the other wholesome ale imbibed loaf slowly proofing in a basket!
Good cheer and good health to all!
P.S. Gracias Leo for the autographed book by Mario!
My true love said to me... stay at home! Whew, ten more days of tedious and repetitious Christmas gluttony! Bah humbug, indeed! This has been the first of many hectic days and nights to come, but we broke record attendance for an annual soiree, with plaudits. I even had a client come to the kitchen thanking me for the food we make, which makes for a good day for sure! Of course there are the headaches, fatigue, the occasional annoying waiters, amongst other things, but on the other hand this is not a commercial restaurant where I tend the stove, no this is an enclave for the wealthy. I sometimes look at this sort of my own episode of upstairs downstairs; we have our own cast of strange characters on both floors to deal with! So before I go to bed, I will feed some hungry bread starters, for some baking tomorrow! Meanwhile here are some pictures of food, the kitchen staff at work and play. See you on the rebound!
It's a wonder I have time to write when I have so much work coming up this next month, actually it's been rather busy at work with or without the holiday. So if I start being quiet you can be assured that I am in the trenches cooking and trying to get the next 21 day's of holiday madness past me! I will try to snap a few pics maybe of food or whatever if I can get a knife or utensil out of my hand long enough! Happy holiday's! (Whatever!)
Nothing is more difficult then coming off a summer vacation and coming up with a new fall menu. Staring blindly at my computer screen as I scoured my brain trying come up with some new dishes, instead my mind was running a blank! I was thinking how nice summer had been and how bountiful the harvest was when I was in Europe! there is nothing like picking your own fresh vegetables from a garden instead of the local cold aisles of a supermarket. Instead you can enjoy some handpicked berries from a bush in the forest as you walk to some castle nestled on a picturesque hill. I always look forward to get away from "The Big Apple" in august,instead of walking amongst the crowds in the concrete jungle I was picking fresh apples from a tree!
Seasons really do exist outside of the city where so many chefs and cooks don't have the opportunity to harvest what they can prepare for the table.My sister would plan the menu according to what she had ready and picked. Our days and evenings were spent enjoying the food produced locally, literally in the backyard , and the most wonderful feeling is sitting at the table enjoying the fruits of your labor,literally! So as I put my finishing touches on this fall menu, I sip a glass of schnapps, cherry red from the orchard picked in July; now that is seasonal! Here are some views from the trip.
So today I had the task of changing my menu for spring, ever the optimist I started knocking out prep for items and trying to put some dishes together to snap pictures for some of my less spontaneous crew!
This morning before I left for work I caught the first sign of spring.My cat didn't, it was a squirrel perched outside my window digging through my planter for his hidden nuts which someone must of left out during the fall. Peanuts, hmmm... hope he doesn't have allergies!
The sky had a brilliant sun but ever menacing clouds! Just last week we had a freak snow storm, not unusual but late. After having some really glorious days in the sun where even some brave souls wore shorts as if it were summer, winter wreaked havoc!
The winter menu was on it's way out and I bade farewell to my satay chicken
and brought in a crab avocado concoction my sous chef had thrown at me jokingly reminding me of the 80's
dishes of yesteryear! Crabs and avocado sphere with taro and caviar,you wouldn't believe the "old school" things people love to eat even with all the anti-carb and diet crazes!
So I am looking forward to ramps, morels, yeah it's spring finally but I can't wait for summer!