Thursday, July 8, 2010

Makin' Bacon

Tomorrow is my day off... so that means all you lucky readers, all five of you, get a midweek update on life at L'Etoile.

Today was just one of those days, when you sit back and reflect on what in God's name brought me to say ,"Hey, I really wanna pit cherries for hours on end for the rest of my life." Then, after pitting a massive cambro, for all you non culinarians, a 2 gallon container. I came into work today, and since today was Farmer's Market day Chef Tory gets up early to pick up loads of goodies from the farmers. Today, after setting my station, I walked into the walk in, (non culinarians, a walk in is a fridge that is so big you walk into it), and sure enough... three heaping sheet trays of black cherries awaited me. I walked out of the walk in with a demoralized look on my face and Chef Tory was waiting, he says, "Bought a present for ya' this morning Intern!" and starts laughing hysterically at my misfortune. After I pitted all of them, with my trademarked ergonomic parer clip, I discovered that they were for the amuse bouche that we'll be running for possible weeks, maybe even until cherries stop coming in. Which means, that for up to a month, my daily jobs will include pitting cherries.

When God gives you lemons you find a new God, but when God gives you cherries, you macerate them in vinegar, honey, and oregano with shaved red onion, and top them with whipped moody blue creme fraiche and a prosciutto straw. The moody blue creme fraiche is genius. Moody Blue is a smoked raw milk blue cheese that we serve on our cheese plates. Its incredible, mellow yet pungent. Maybe my favorite cheese, and when crumbled into creme fraiche and whipped, Oh my god. I saw this dish's conception from start to finish. It really has changed the way I look at food.

So I guess I'm thankful for those godforsaken cherries...

I guess you could say that I'm beginning my stint as charcutier of the restaurant too. We buy nothing... NOTHING processed, except for cheese and vinegar and soysauce. Everything we use, including prosciutto, bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or even the aptly named "GIRTH" house made salami. Today, I learned the L'etoile way to make bacon. And these bellies are my baby... I cured them today, in brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, black pepper, and a pinch of TCM. We jiaccard the bellies, smear on the cure, and let them sit in the walk in for five days, rinse them, dry them overnight, and then smoke them.

When I left work, Madison was perfect. My walk to Qdoba for a late night snack was brisk. Then as I embarked on my ten block walk home, the skies opened. It poured down on me for the whole fifteen minutes home. I love the rain, and the kitchen was extra hot today at work so I walked slowly, plus I havent showered in two days, so I felt really grimy, and the rain was just what I needed.

My whole walk home I kind of reflected on how happy I am right now. I'm doing what I love, in an incredible learning environment, and getting paid to do it. I could do this for free for life, as long as I've got beer in the fridge and food on the table, and a bed to sleep in, and I would be completely happy. But I guess I can't turn down a few thousand bucks to spend on the new Man Utd. Jerseys (the new one is unveiled on the 15th), A few slices of Pizza after work, a tiny apartment, and some amazing dinners in NYC when I get back to school.

Thats right, I've already got my fat ass tours of the city planned out for when I go back. And unlike here in Madison, I know I wont be sitting at a table for one, (something that I do all too often, and dont mind apart from the "Oh I'm sorry you don't have any friends looks I get from everyone around.) Shoutout to all my buds cookin' their asses off all over the world, can't wait to hear all your awesome stories when we rendez-vous in good old Hyde Park.

Tune in Sunday, To listen to me rant about killing chickens, and hopefully laugh about Fernando Torres crying in agony in Johannesburg when the Dutch put the hurt on Spain.

Have a great weekend,


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