Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Week's Wednesday Report

A bit of a quiet Wednesday night - this time we're blaming it on Valentine's Day being today, so people are saving up to go out tonight or this weekend.  We hope.

And it was a very good menu.  I mean, catfish never had it so good!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  The meal started with a baked brie crouton, atop a small spinach salad.  I coveted this, but to no avail. 

The griddled catfish was gussied up with a mushroom sauce.  Vegetables this week include bok choy and turnips - must be winter!  But  I will tell you, more people have commented that the turnips are the tastiest they have ever tried.  Even turnip haters are turning the corner!

For desert we took the lazy route and offered vanilla ice cream with some of our dulce de leche sauce.  This creamy caramel sauce is going to be featured in our Valentine's Menu tonight.  We found a very simple and almost foolproof recipe on the David Lebovitz blog -  find it here.  I've made other versions - not including the leave-it-in-the-can and boil it on the stove one (no!) - but this oven baked recipe is a cinch.  The only reason it is not 100% fool proof (and there's a reason they use that term "fool" proof you know) is that you must be careful to follow his directions and not let the water boil out of the pan the milk sits in.  That can cause a problem.  But otherwise, easy and delicious. 

I think there are still a few people outside of the restaurant business who think it must be a lot of fun, cooking great food all day, serving it to adoring fans and walking around the dining room accepting the accolades.  And sure, perhaps this is how it happens somewhere.  But I was struck with the reality of it yesterday when I watched Kevin setting up countless molds of rice pilaf - which accompanies the lamb - one by one.  Over and over, the same motion.  And it wasn't just two, or six.  It was a few dozen.  And this repetitive motion goes on all day.  Prep three gallons of onions for the onion soup.  Chop two bunches of parsley for garnish.  Peel and julienne 10 pounds of parsnips.  Peel and devein a box of shrimp.  And do this week after week.  That can become fairly mind numbing.  Unless you are like Kevin, and strive to make each crepe perfect, or challenge yourself to get the job done five minutes faster than it took you the last time.  It's not glamorous, cleaning a ten pound sack of mussels, but it can be rewarding if you use it to strengthen your kitchen skills.

Two sneak previews to our Valentine's Day menu for tonight.  First, a shot of the SBF beef shortribs that were braised for quite a long time yesterday, in preparation for the entree portion of the four course offering:

 And then the four pans of dulce de leche brownies that Cherelle put together - also from David Lebovitz.  We made a prototype last week and they are good.  Rich.  Good.  We're going to put a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on them.  The brownie part of the recipe may replace the Katherine Hepron recipe we currently use, they are that good.

Right now Kevin is working on the first course for the VD prix-fixe, which is lobster lasagna.  He tried a new method - new to him - yesterday, for cooking the lobsters.  He put the crustaceans into the freezer for a bit, to get them very s l o w, before dropping them into their boiling water bath for that final swim.  This, he hopes, made for a less traumatic end, which will hopefully translate into more tender meat.  We'll see.  It couldn't hurt, anyway.  I'm hoping for some fresh pasta scraps for breakfast, after he gets the lasagna put together...

We have no idea what to expect for Valentine's Night.  We are ready to be busy, but our no-reservations-for -less-than-six policy may go against us.  We're also hoping that the holiday translates into a busier weekend, for those who cleverly opt to do their duo dining post February 14th.  Valentine's Day is one of the restaurant industry's busiest dining events, and we have fielded many calls, but who knows.   Nonetheless, Kevin is being a sport in putting together a special meal for those who join us in the dining room tonight.  Meanwhile, for the two of us, as you all know...

Everyday is Valentine's Day!

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