Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September!

Some Shit:

Well this is interesting, isn't it?

Change is on the horizon.

Susie Davidson Powell's reviews - as entertaining as they can be - tend to be just as much about her as they are about wherever she dined 

Steve forgot to mention that the two varieties of oysters on our tower do not include Gold Bands (frozen garbage) or Blue Points (just garbage) - like some of the others mentioned do.

Troy politics are so fucked

Troy parking is so fucked

Daniel, I hate to burst your bubble...but we have served Mac & Cheese. The catch is that it was actually good.

The best tamale I have ever had I bought off of a random guy at a Walmart Parking lot in Bakersfield, CA.

Writing inscriptions on my plates in chocolate will be the reason I leave this industry. 

Its easy to share a statistic. Its not easy to cite the source. 

Any time I cut a corner or don't do something as well as I would like and still go with it, someone I care about or a VIP will come in and try whatever it is. Without fail. 

There is a lot more to food culture than restaurants. I wish I appreciated this sooner.

Susie Davidson Powell reviewed another restaurant that everyone already knows is a joke. What I cant wrap my head around is that she spent $530.83 on 2 salads, 2 apps, 3 entrees, 2 sides, 1 dessert, 5 drinks, 1 sparkling water and 20% gratuity. For $120 more,  J & I dined at Blue Hill at Stone Barns  - and had 5 cocktails, about 35 courses each, and left 20% gratuity. BH@SB is considered one of the best restaurants in North America (Currently #49 in the world) and it was a deeply moving and transformative experience dining there (more so than any other restaurant I have been to in the top 50). 

The Metrolands Best of Food & Drink came out. Best Vegan Bakery but no Best Bakery? What is wrong with this paper?

Chefs having photos taken of their baby in chefs whites is not cute, witty or original. 

Even though he (?) thinks The Shop is serving 'tasty and innovative fare', I sure would like to see more writing from Masticating Monkey 

The tone in Dominic's posts during track season was noticeably different that his non-track season posts.

While it is entirely possible that I am imagining it - I am pretty sure we are attracting the track crowd at the restaurant. I have seen a lot of orders and special requests that remind me of things I would see when I worked in downtown Saratoga. Its difficult to not be annoyed by this (even if its my imagination).

Lack of trust is exhausting.

Ive been buying all of my peaches from Yonder Farms (who I also have a fruit CSA with) - Its been a pleasure getting to know the people at their stand by HVCC.

The puppy started obedience school.

Kevin McCashion is witty, interesting, and often times hilarious - but I cannot follow him on twitter because he tweets way too much. 

I need to plan a trip to Mexico City. 

Rock & Rye Tavern in New Paltz is worth the drive, especially if you like cocktails

Gaskins in Germantown is worth the drive.

John Shields & Karen Urie Shields are opening a restaurant in Chicago later this year (or maybe next year). Town House remains the best restaurant meal of my life - and I have no doubt that this will be the most significant restaurant opening in the US in quite some time. 

I ran into Daniel while his kids were getting some soft serve at the Grocery. He said to me that the 'Word on the street is you guys are making your soft serve'. This is something that I would like to clarify. Currently we do not make our soft serve base from scratch. We purchase a soft serve base that is made by Crowley Dairy and then we flavor it in house. The traditional method here is to use extracts, syrups, emulsions that you can purchase from any number of sources to flavor these soft serve bases. We do not do this. We use real ingredients and flavor it from scratch. For example - most soft serve places would strictly use green tea extract to flavor their green tea soft serve. We used real green tea to flavor ours. We believe that this is giving us a superior product - but we are not making it from scratch. Furthermore - most places that claim to be making their soft serve from scratch are in fact using a pre made base that they flavor with extracts in house. Thats *most* places. You may wonder why we make our ice cream from scratch but not our soft serve - and also now recall you have seen a lot of ice cream places that make their hard pack but not soft serve. The answer is fairly complicated. Basically there are a whole new set of problems that arise because of the way soft serve is frozen, held, and served with its machine. These problems can be stability, whipping properties, flavor dispersion, maintenance of dryness and texture - but the single biggest problem is fat separation from thermal shock and agitation during the (repeated) freezing process. Because of these issues - soft serve is formulated much differently than traditional ice cream (which is typically spun and then held in deep freeze). Learning about this stuff is not easy - information is scarce and hard to find. Misinformation is everywhere. It is an on-going project for me and I hope that at some point we will be making our soft serve from scratch - but this may require me taking CE classes at a Dairy School such as Madison or Penn State. But until then - it will be made with the best stuff we can get our hands on and flavored with real ingredients.

Applying to jobs in different countries is exhilarating

Applying to jobs which you are not at all qualified for is exhilarating too

For a while now I have been wanting to write about the over-reliance on convenience products in restaurant kitchens - Ive started new drafts every week since June...but for whatever reason it s not flowing the way I want. Basic idea is almost all restaurants rely far too heavily on convenience products - even ones that say they don't or say they're entirely from scratch.

It can be difficult to categorize a convenience product. More accurately - it can be difficult to say if one is 'ok' or not. Think of it like this - is it okay to use peeled garlic instead of whole bulbs, which you break apart and peel yourself? What about frozen french fries? Frozen Bread? Pre-made sauces? Mayo? Nut-butters? Dried Pastas? Cheeses (or at least ones that are easily made in kitchens)? Sour cream - or any cultured diary products? Ice cream? Pre-cut or pre-fabricated meats? Pre-made sausage? Pickles? Where is the line drawn?  - For me its a balance between being truthful (which, again, most places are not) and being smart. Are you making a pasta recipe that traditionally uses dried pasta? It it logistically possible to mill your own grains? Do you have an ice cream machine? Ultimately - I just think you cant rely on them. If you suddenly were without them, would you still be able to put up your whole menu? Are you just too lazy to make a real aioli?

Pecks is - truthfully - the most 'from scratch' kitchen I have ever worked in. Not just in New York. We have a small handful of convenience products that we use in conjunction with everything else - but nothing takes center stage, nothing is done out of laziness or ineptitude - its all used reasonably and intelligently. All of us work at a fast pace every day to prep our menus from scratch. I will literally make everything on my menu every day I am there. There are much easier ways to do this work - but they all would sacrifice quality.

Peck's is also the only restaurant I have worked at in Upstate New York that refuses to order from Sysco - is willing to spend money on good ingredients - and actually cares about the source and quality of all the ingredients we use.

It always pays to try things back to back, so you can better understand the contrast in quality. Early on at Peck's I had a dessert with an orange sorbet on the menu. I knew that using fresh squeezed orange juice would be better than bottled. I decided to try making the sorbet with bottled juice to see if it was okay - and it was still very good. It wasn't until I made the sorbet again with fresh juice that I was able to compare it to the bottled - which, again, tasted very good with no other point of reference. When I was able to taste it next to the sorbet made from fresh squeezed juice - it tasted bitter, stale - and just awful. I have not used bottled orange juice for anything since. This can be applied to a lot more than just food.


Overheard:

'Vic is in the noodle zone' 

'Why are you moving to Arizona, did you kill someone?' - 'I wish'

'I bet you haven't shit today, I saw how much ricotta you ate'