I love the little (or, in some cases, huge) piles of snow left here and there, in parking lots and alongside the roadway. Some of them - like the ones in the shopping centers - will most likely still be showing remnants of their former lives into April, if current weather conditions persist. We've got a couple nice ones in our own lot:
We have gotten off so easy these past two storms, especially yesterday, when all we got was rain, while above us the counties suffered some serious ice. My sister lives in Hampstead, where the ice brought down numerous trees, and with them, power lines. (Here's the Carroll County Times article about the "Tree Apocalypse") They are still - since yesterday morning - without power. Luckily they have a woodstove, so her 90-some year-old mother-in-law can keep cozy, but it can't be a pleasant time, especially when it is so cold out.
I know one thing - I bet people are less likely to complain about the heat this coming summer!
It has been pretty brutal. Last week, our main source of entertainment in the Dining Room was watching the non-stop queue of people trying to get their cars washed. They were lined up at the street pretty much all day all week. I joked with a customer who owns a body shop in town, that the weather was probably pretty good for his business, as well as the car wash, a list that grew when we thought of plumbers and orthopedic surgeons.
Our business - not so much.
Last week's Wednesday meal was popular with the diners that made the trek in the arctic chill that was still enveloping the county, but for the most part covers are down when ice lays a trap on the roads and walk-ways.
Here's the report for two Wednesday prix-fixes, and more!
First, going back to last week's menu, the meal began with a toasted slice of Kevin's bread, topped with a bitty salad which was graced with some slices of brie that had been subtly warmed under the salamander.
Next, our version of Fish and Chips! Flounder, fried, with lemon aioli. And hey, when is the last time you had a plate of Fish and Chips that included a green vegetable?
Dessert was a scoop of peppermint ice cream, chocolate sauced and garnished with one of Cherelle's short bread cookies.
Last night's starter was this bowl of broccoli sesame soup. The chili oil and sprinkle of ground sesame seeds added the "je ne sais quois" element that keeps diners on their toes.
The soup was followed by baby backs which had marinated in ginger and garlic before being slow roasted and glazed with a ginger BBQ sauce. I got mixed reviews on these, maybe because Kevin doesn't cook his baby back ribs to the falling-off-the-bone stage. What I sampled - even without the sauce - was very tasty. Oh, you are surprised, I got a chance to actually try something? Well, don't get too excited:
Here's what we got - the excess bones, trimmed of meat. Still, it was a free sample and what meat we could gnaw off of them reflected well on the finished dish. Remember the "bowl of bones" we used to serve at the Kennedyville? Well, these are the BT version...
We sold out of the menu way early last night, much to the disappointment of several, including the Land Lord. I wrote "86" over the description on the specials board out in the foyer, to advise people before they entered that the menu was kaput. I didn't want them to come in, get seated and then be met with the unpleasant news that the meal they had made the effort to come in for was actually no longer available. Later on I noticed that someone had erased it altogether, which was not in the best interest of the guests, so I questioned the motive. Apparently the "86" notation had caused great confusion, and the well intentioned (and by now, crying) server felt it better to just get rid of the whole thing. (Yes, I made her cry. I'm not proud of it, and the two of us worked through the situation later, but it happened. Sometimes I can be a little bit too direct, me thinks.)
Which brings us to the definition of the term "86", as used in restaurant lingo. It means "gone" or "out of stock". There is more than one version as to the origin of this term, which the link will demonstrate, my favorite being the classic measurement of a grave.
St. Brigid's Farm veal was served last weekend under the guise of "Cordon Bleu". Kevin took the veal cutlet, placed a slice of his house-cured (free range locally raised pork, of course) on top, then a couple slices of brie, and placed it all in the oven to give the brie a chance to meld into the meat. I'm thinking this was a pretty successful rendition of the classic.
The trout on the menu now comes with a stomach full of prosciutto risotto and oysters.
Lunch last weekend included the Brooks Tavern version of a Pork Parmesan sub. Well, maybe resembling such a sandwich. It consisted of breaded and sauteed pork medallions, topped with stewed onion, peppers, tomato and jack cheese, all melted together on an open-faced sandwich roll. A rather hearty lunch, best suited for a lazy Saturday, when the remaining afternoon will be spent watching rather than playing football.
Brussels sprouts are out, cauliflower is in. First Kevin made the cauliflower in the same way he had been doing the sprouts - with the balsamic glaze and such - but later he figured it would be better to head off into entirely new territory. The result was roasted cauliflower with dates, sweet toasted marcona almonds, crispy fried capers and the spiced citrus vinaigrette. Bingo!
I confess, these are some challenging times to be business owners, let alone one that serves food. The weather this winter, of course, is the most intimidating factor, creating hassles for everyone connected to your business, from employees to customers to suppliers. It creates the dilemma of where to draw the line between ordering enough but not too much, when you can't be sure you won't have to shut down for a crucial weekend. And there's more. Worrying about the propane supply. Being fully staffed. Being over staffed. The competition from the Winter Olympics. The confusion about when we take our annual vacation. It's no surprise that the restaurant business harbors more than its share of abusers of alcohol. This 6 year old article from wine writer Janis Robinson's blog is still relevant today. As Kevin remarked last night - this was a red wine day.
I think he meant month.
But really, our chosen profession doesn't have it as bad as some, when it comes to dealing with this winter's hazards. We could own a dairy herd. We could be snow plow drivers. Or better yet, line man for the county. No, no complaints here. We work indoors, surrounded by food, drink and wonderful people. Every night is a party, and you are always invited!