Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I will be performing as part of the "improvisational orchestra" (under the name 'Inovercy') for this performance of the "Unsilent Film" series, hosted by Synthcleveland.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Much more than working from a cookbook, I love taking the knowledge I've gained from them and making my own creations. Unfortunately, I rarely measure when I do things like that, so reproduction is rarely possible. Recently, though, I've taken to making a zucchini and garlic dish that is sooo simple and yet has become a hit in our house. This, I can repeat. It's nowhere near a main course, but makes an excellent side:

This serves one person (though it's easy to cook up larger quantities).

  • Cut up 1 small to medium zucchini into strips (about the size of linguini)
  • Throw into a pan over high heat. I use cooking spray to cook it in, but about 1 tsp of canola would do nicely
  • Cook for 1 minute and throw in 1 minced clove of garlic. Toss.
  • Leave it alone! You want carmelization of the zucchini. This is very important.
  • When the zucchini has reached a good brown at the bottom and softened up, plate it and add a sprinkle of kosher salt and a small spray of lime. If done right, it will have a nice meaty flavor. Yum!


Other dishes made this weekend (though not necessarily completely original):

  • Chocolate Custard
  • Chocolate meringues (what an awesome way to change 5 eggs into two dishes) - This dish made me very nervous though. The last time I tried to make meringues, it was from my own head (not a recipe) and I screwed them up badly. I am happy to say that these turned out well, if not a little small.
  • Jalapeño and scallion cream cheese spread
  • Portabella mushroom sandwiches
  • Basil Mayo


My mother-in-law is coming this week, so I'm brainstorming, trying to think of something interesting (and tasty!) to make for her.

In unrelated news, I am officially no longer working the restaurant job. Though I am glad for the extra time off, it's going to take some getting used to, having my Saturdays free again.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Announcement

Let me preface this by saying that this is a decision that I have not come to lightly. I've probably caused myself more mental anguish than is needed. But, as of yesterday, I have put in my 2 weeks notice at the current restaurant. I have nothing else lined up and I'm not sure if I will get another 2nd job before going to school in September. But, I just felt that, though the experience is something I could use, the work was not right for me. Restaurant work is hard work. You're on your feet all the time, surrounded by a constant stream of noise (from people and equipment) and a million and one ways to hurt yourself. In order to do it, I feel, I have to enjoy the food I am making, to make that environment worth it. At the current restaurant, that simply was not the case. The food bored me. I could do it, flipping burgers and quesadillas, that's something I can do in my sleep, it just didn't inspire me. I didn't even like eating there, when I was on break. Maybe if I was hard up for the cash, it would be different. But, I don't need the money and I don't need to work *two* jobs which I do not enjoy, so I did the professional thing and gave notice. (Plus, if I don't give notice, I'd only get minimum wage on my first and only check.) I'm trying not to view this as a failure, but as a chance to further define, for myself, what I am looking for.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Lopez Bar & Grill

I'm not quite sure how I managed to remain ignorant of Lopez up until last night. Located just steps from the Cedar Lee and serving up some unique Noveau Mexican cuisine (something I only discovered, really, when Genevieve and I headed to California for a trip), it must've taken some sort of mental block to have kept me away for this long. But, last night, with our kitchen a mess, we decided to head out to eat and try something new. So, Lopez it was..finally.

Walking in the door, we were greeted by a huge sign:
Cheap Tequila! Tuesday and Thursday Nights!

Being a Thursday, I was already feeling pretty good about this place.
We were seated promptly and ordered a few margaritas (which were half price). I got a traditional, which was excellent and Genevieve got a strawberry, which was a bit sweet for me and a bit boozy for her, but as the ice melted, she warmed up to the drink (pun intended). For a meat eater, like myself, the options were crazy. Lobster enchiladas, Mahi Mahi plates, and fish tacos...but there was one thing that struck me when I was looking up reviews for Lopez and that was their duck quesadillas, so I ordered that. Their vegetarian menu was less substantial, but Genevieve was able to get a mushroom quesadilla. While waiting for the entrees, we snacked on the free chips and salsa, which were actually quite good. The chips were light and not too greasy or salty and the salsa, your standard cooked salsa, was tasty.

The entrees arrived in good time. It didn't feel like we were being rushed, not did we ever start wondering where our food was. My duck quesadilla dish was simply amazing! The duck was soft and buttery, marinated in a peppers and orange, served with strips of roasted poblanos over homemade (yes!) tortillas. The only odd thing was that it didn't have any cheese (!), something I thought was kind of a prerequisite for a Quesadilla. But, the dish was so impossibly flavorful and yummy, I certainly was not complaining. Genevieve's mushroom quesadilla was excellent, as well. Marinated and grilled mushrooms, topped with goat cheese and wrapped in another homemade tortilla, it had a wonderful earthy, meaty tone to it. It didn't even bother me that it was better than my mushroom quesadilla, which I'd been very proud of.

We opted not to have dessert, despite the temptations of a Mexican bread pudding dish that sounded amazing.
The only bad part of our experience is that we hadn't heard of it earlier!

(Side Note: The prices were above those of your standard Mexican restaurant with entrees ranging from $12-20.00 and appetizers hovering around the $8.00 mark. That said, I definitely felt like the quality of the food was worth the extra cost. Just keep that in mind, should you choose to visit.)

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

I don't usually do meme's, but since I was called out by name by the Cat that is a Dave, I am thinking I better ;)

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Though I went through a period of devouring lots of "Big Brother" sorts of novels last year or so, I, unfortunately, somehow missed or decided not to read Fahrenheit 451.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
When I was a little kid, I had a crush on the princess in 'The Black Cauldron'

The last book you bought is:
The Riversong Lodge Cookbook: World-Class Cooking in the Alaskan Bush, purchased for just 0.25 at the local thrift store. I haven't had a chance to make anything from it yet (though there is a recipe for homemade clover wine which sounds interesting).

The last book you read:
The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The book chronicles a culinary education through the top school in the country, The Culinary Institute of America. An old friend of Genevieve's actually knows the author and I got some contact info for him, but I thought, before I do so, I should really read his book first. Also, since I knew I would not be going to CIA (for various reasons), I wanted to at least find out what I was missing out on.

What are you currently reading?
Nothing, currently. But, I do have a hold on the following books, at the library:

  • Opportunities in Culinary Careers by Mary Deirdre Donovan
  • Careers for Gourmets & Others who Relish Food by Mary Deirdre Donovan
  • Culinary Arts Career Starter by Mary Masi
  • The Soul of a Chef : The Journey Toward Perfection - another book by Mr. Ruhlman. This one has 1/3 of the book dedicated to Cleveland local chef extraordinaire Michael Symon (of Lola).


Five books you would take to a desert island.
The Joy of Cooking (hey, even on a desert island, a guy's gotta eat)
The Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Bible (at the very least, a great time sucker)
The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe (goth, I know)
Cerebus: Church and State Vol. 1 & 2

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Alesha, since I know how much my sister loves to read.
Lauren, because this quiz is right up her alley.
Adam, so he doesn't feel left out and cry like a little baby.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

A Weekend in the Business...

So I worked this past Friday and Saturday at the Restaurant. Friday was nothing to write home about. I spent most of the evening throwing down fries and prepping plates. For some reason, though I was only there for 5 hours, it felt like I was there for *days*. It simply dragged. I looked at the time, at one point, hoping it would be just an hour until I had to leave, only to discover I had only been there for just 2 hours. In the end, even though I left early, it still felt like I had been there all day. I was terrified of the next day though, where I 'd be working a full 8 hours. If 5 hours were bad, what would 8 hours be like?

As it turns out, not so bad. I got in at 10am and spent the first 2+ hours just prepping, which I (weird enough) kind of enjoy. There's a certain zen-like quality in prepping a mass amount of food. Plus, someone brought in donuts, which was, of course, a bonus. I, then, helped out on the line for a bit and got a chance to meet Chef Frank, who had worked there for many years. He was an older man and not very talkative. But, I did manage to engage him in a bit of conversion about biking. He's been carless for 14 years (ever since his kids were out of the house). I can see doing something like that in a big city or in the South, but in Ohio, with its occasionally harsh winters, that's pretty hardcore.

Oh, so you should probably know, the restaurant I work for now isn't really known for their hot food as much as their desserts. In fact, their desserts are pretty famous (and freggin amazing, might I add). So, in the morning, while I was prepping food, I couldn't help but notice the pastry and bakers in the back, getting that day's sweets ready to go (the kitchen is divided in half, part of it is the grill, steam tables, etc., the other half is for the bakery). The great divisions in the environments amazed me. While the kitchen is hot, loud and frantic, the bakery was the epitome of cool. People moved around slowly and with purpose. No one talked. They simply worked slowly and methodically, the only sound being the background hum of the freezer. I actually liked it quite a bit. It's another point where I find I like the bakery life better for me than the kitchen (the other being the early morning hours). It's too bad that, overall; I have no interest in baking and pastry arts.

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