My morning had such a start that it could only go up from there, so that's a good thing. It all began last night when we couldn't find our cell phone. I was the last one with it, and when we didn't hear it ring when we called it from the office, we thought maybe I'd left it home. But no, not at home, not in the car, not in the van. Then it went to voice mail. Great. All I could think was that maybe I'd inadvertently thrown it out with the junk mail, which I'd had in my hands when I came back from feeding Ruby, along with my wallet, sunglasses and the missing phone. I could have just tossed it in the trash without realizing... So, this morning, you know what that means. Dumpster diving. I was in the disgusting process of digging through yesterday's yucky garbage, with a pair of tongs mind you, when the driver from Chef's WareHouse came to my rescue - he actually found the phone! It was on the file cabinet underneath my order book. How he found it I don't know, but I'll tell you what I do know: starting your day by digging through yesterday's garbage is not the greatest. It is not an image that is easy to dismiss, trust me. Luckily no one took any pictures.
So, it's only up from there!
Kevin was pretty sure that the sausages he made for the menu last night were going to be pretty good, and he was right.
The white sausage on last night's menu - sometimes known as "boudin blanc" - is an emulsified sausage made with chicken and pork fat stuffed into pork casings. These were then twisted into individual sausages and poached to doneness prior to service. Sauteed to order, where they were nicely browned, they were served with a bit of demi-glaze.
His recipe for this - which is written down - follows a classic 5-4-3 ratio for forcemeat, being 5 parts meat, 4 parts fat and 3 parts water. Kevin has been making sausage for years, although the emulsified ones have been a little trickier to master (that great hotdog that we only saw once comes to mind), but he thinks he may have it nailed now. Just in time too, because he has been invited to make veal sausages for St. Brigid's Farm's September Field to Fork dinner. If he can pull this off again, using SBF grass fed veal, our future will be golden! Binkerts, look out!
The plate was quite inviting looking, with a mound of mashed potatoes and salads of beets and beans. We actually enjoyed one of the sausages this morning for our breakfast, alongside duck-fat fried potatoes and onions. Sometimes a bad morning can be turned around, eh?
Anyway, the Prix-fixe menu last night began with a mozzarella roulade, filled with asparagus and spelt, on a bed of Little Gem lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette:
The spelt added a pleasantly chewy texture to the cheese roll.
Dessert was another great success for Kevin. With James under his wing, he made a chocolate mousse cake that is bound for the dessert list.
Hard to beat chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and frosted with chocolate whipped cream. It was a big hit, and a second one will be on today's lunch menu, in case you missed it.
I know it gets to sound like a broken record - and believe you me, he really is not perfect! - but Kevin can surely cook. The above plate is more proof of that. Here we have his foie gras paired with some slices of duck ham. Yes, you read that right - duck breast brined and smoked just like pork, to make ham. Incredibly flavorful and savory, you have to try it to believe it. Just imagine a local meat case, filled with slices of this ducky goodness, stacks of juicy sausages, piles of smoked pork ribs. This is a bit of what we hope to do, in our next life, and it starts here at Brooks Tavern.
We've been getting queried lately regarding the arrival of the CrabCake (not to mention the CrabSteak), and it certainly is time, but so far the Maryland crab meat supply has been slightly sporadic. Of course pricy too, but that is to be expected. There doesn't seem to be any timeline to offer; we just have to take what nature and United Shellfish have to offer and hope it happens soon. Meanwhile, the late appearance of crab means that the Oyster Fritter is still on the menu, as long as the oysters remain plump this late in this unnatural season. And soon, strawberry shortcake!
We've had our Coconut Caramel Slice on the dessert menu lately, and the most recent batch was made even better with the addtion of Steen's Cane Syrup, compliments of Brenda and Larry Lyons, recently of New Orleans. When Brenda asked Kevin what they could bring him back from their trip to the Crescent City, he quickly put in a request for some Steen's, and he got his wish! What a nice thing to do - and what an improvement this ingredient adds to the flavor of the Slice. Thanks so much Brenda and Larry, it will go to good use!
Our guests frequently enter into the kitchen, sometimes invited, sometimes spontaneously. That was the case with this fellow last night, who rambled into the back with a request for the Chef. Or was it a suggestion? Something to do with MacDonald's? What ever.
Oh, it's John Mercer!! Here's a man who never shies away from offering his opinion! John and his wife Lynn are good customers of ours, and John is always quick with a joke. For a long time we had a running commentary regarding squirrel, during our squirrel catching adventures, but you never really know what John is going to come up with, one moment to the next. Just be ready for anything!
Finally, the big story of the week - Debbie had her second anniversary at Brooks on May 10th!
Here she is, behind her co-worker "Stephanie" at the pot sink this morning. Debbie loves her job at Brooks Tavern, showing up every Tuesday and Thursday morning with one question on her lips - "When do I get Paid?". She is good for us, and Tiffany (aka Stephanie) takes very, very good care of Debbie. I should say that the second question from Debbie usually is "Where is Stephanie?". Happy Anniversary Debbie, we should have baked a cake!