I'm entering the final phase of my time at L'Etoile in Madison. It's kind of bittersweet. Two weeks from today I will say goodbye to my friends and coworkers, and I'll head home. Yesterday, I was informed of a change in plans. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll be working with the bakers. I'm kind of sad because I don't believe that I'll be doing any more actual line cooking at L'Etoile any more. But I really am anxious to learn how to bake bread, and the pastries that we serve at Graze. It should be pretty awesome, despite the fact that I will have to be up at 4 30 every morning to start baking.
This weekend was incredible. Absolutely exhausting, but incredible. I got off work at 10 on Saturday night because we had a stage and Pete said I had worked too much this week. I got home at 10 30, played a few games of fifa and laid down to go to bed. The second my head hit my pillow i heard a familiar ringing sound coming from my computer. It was my friend Jon from school calling me on skype. I HAD to answer, because Jon is my dude. We talked about food, work, and other stuff. I love hearing Jon talk about his externship. He is working at arguably one of the most ground breaking restaurants in the world. Blue Hill at Stone Barns in NY is a fine dining restaurant that operates on a massive piece of land, and is unique in that the restaurant grows most of the food it uses. It's farm raises livestock and produce that directly come to the kitchen. Its an unbelievable place, and in January, for Jon's birthday, he is bringing me along with some of our other friends to Blue Hill to eat. We'll get the VIP treatment. I'm beyond pumped.
By the time I said goodbye, it was 1 30, and my alarm was set for three. I decided that 2 hours of sleep wasn't worth it, so I continued to play fifa until four, when my cab came to take me to the airport. I can't sleep on airplanes, so the twenty minutes of shuteye that I got on my flight from Madison to Chicago was considered a victory. But the trip from Chicago to Indy was pretty restless. I sat with my nose against the window for the whole thirty minute flight.
I was amazed at what I could recognize of my city from up in the sky. I immediately recognized the Northwest corner of I-465 between Michigan Rd and 86th st. We flew directly over Eagle Creek Reservoir, which was upsetting, because I could have jumped from the plane and been home in less than five minutes. But no, we continued south to the airport. I did see Lucas Oil, and the roof was closed due to the 85 plus degree heat.
My dad was waiting for me at the airport, but the best part of my trip was waiting for me at the top of the stairs when I got home.
Let me explain the relationship between me and one of my oldest friends.
About nine years ago, in December, my sister and I heard a knock at the door. We opened it to find a shivering, whining cardboard box. We pulled the box inside and opened it. My parents looked on with wide grins. I immediately reached in the box and pulled out a tiny black puppy with a floppy ear and a pink belly. She was still shaking, so I hugged her, and held her up to my face. I looked her in the eye and as I did, a tiny, black spotted tongue poked out and tapped me on the nose. I'll never forget that puppy breath.
For the past nine years, everyday when I came home, Whether she was in the driveway, or at the top of the stairs, Mia was waiting for me. If she was in the house, she would sit at the top of the stairs. I would kneel down to pet her, and as I did, she would leap up, put her pays on my shoulders, and lick my face a few times. Only after she had done so would I be allowed to enter the house. If she was in the yard, she would stand in the middle of the driveway as I pulled in, and after I stopped and rolled down my window, she would prance over to the driver's side, and put her paws up on my door. I would stick my face out, allowing her to sniff me, and lick my face some more, then I would continue into the garage.
We go get fast food together on a regular basis. She celebrates with me when Manchester United score. We're a team.
I'm her boy and she's my dog. And I have missed the crap out of her. I often sit in Madison and wonder if she really misses me, or even notices how long I've been gone. And I was reassured on Sunday, as I opened the door and walked up the steps. She was there, waiting for me. Not like she normally was. This time, she practically attacked me. She made noises I've never heard her make before. And for what seemed like a few whole minutes, she clawed on my shoulders, licked the crap out of my face and neck, and even bit my ear a few times. She had missed me. My sister was clearly jealous that her reception the day earlier had been nothing like it.
The colts game was exciting, but it made me realize how much most colts fans suck. I was rowdy and obnoxious, and behind the team like never before, but most people seemed annoyed by the fact that on a second and eight, I was standing up, screaming for the defense. There was a butt ugly chief's fan two rows in front of us, and on the colts' first drive, when they were stopped on 3rd and goal, she began to do what I assume was a dance, but actually looked like she was having a seizure. I screamed, "Sit The Hell Down!" She immediately turned around and looked at the guy three seats to my left. She asked if it was him, and he laughed and said no. He looked at me and winked. This guy and I go way back.
First of all, the amount of elderly women at Colts' games is sickening. I am not trying to be mean, but seriously, the last team an NFL fan base needs is a bunch of Grandma's sitting in the stands wondering why that handsome young man in the striped shirt keeps waving his arms around and throwing streamers all over the field. The people that surrounded me at this game, barring the one guy three seats away, and my sister, were all retarded. They didn't want to stand and cheer, they didn't want to yell obsenities. They just wanted to file out of the stands whenever there was a TV timeout to go change their adult diapers.
If Lucas Oil Stadium was filled with people like myself, I have no doubt in my mind that we would be Super Bowl champs for the next three years. I lost my voice after ten plays. Ten Pays, but did I stop? No.
You don't really appreciate what you have until it is taken from you. And I hate to say it, but maybe in order to weed out these annoying Colts fans, we need to lose a few more games. The true fans will come out of the woodwork and step in for the wall sitters who just don't want to go see a team that isn't putting up 45 points a game.
Then, we'll have a respectable fanbase, and a team that is much more excited to play at home.
I drove back with my dad on Monday morning. We had lunch at my favorite Italian Beef stand on the square, then I went to work and he headed back to Indy. I got off work around seven, and sat at the bar at Graze with Ed. We talked about our plans for the future, and both of us may very well end up in New York next year.
Talking to Ed made me realize that I really am ready to move on from Madison. L'Etoile was and still is a great place for me. I learned so much here and met so many awesome people, but the food world is huge, and it really would be a waste of opportunity to return here. There is so much to see and cook and taste, and I have to move on. Especially when line cooking isn't my ideal future. I have to be in New York, or Europe if I am going to learn what I want to. I can learn how to make whatever charcuterie items are on the menu at L'Etoile, but at place like Bar Bouloud or DBGB, i would be learning the trade from masters, and I would be focused on just what I love, meat.
I watched an episode of No Reservations today, the one where he goes to Praque. Prague, for those of you who do not know, is the beer capitol of the world. And the Czech's eat more pork than any civilization in the world. I think one of these days I might have to visit prague, and try and learn a little bit about two of my favorite things in life... beer and pork. Until then, I'll keep on drinking my Miller High Lifes and munching on bacon, life sucks don't it.
Tune in next week as I bitch about how much I hate measuring, and as I patiently await my return to the big apple.