Coming home, I just saw the most beautiful moment (and I don’t use that cheesy language lightly) – a cart food vendor and his little 2 year old daughter. He had left his cart to one side of the side walk with a little pink, heart shaped princess balloon tied to the side of this otherwise grey cart. He was standing with her in his arms, she had a little blanket over her shoulders, and they were looking at the little fishtank next to my house. He was pointing at the fish and she was giggling. I caught his eye and we were both grinning.
Today I overslept as my phone is still submerged in a pot of rice (having been dropped in the mop bucket) and my computer seemingly magically turned itself off overnight (the plug fell out of the wall). Luckily I shot out of bed at 6.05 and was at the restaurant at 6.15 with a huge apology (and no breakfast or coffee), although everyone was very nice about it.
The days are getting to be more “normal” now as I fall into a daily routine. Although I keep learning new things and new techniques. Today I learned how to make a shrimp infused oil (which we make a shrimp mayo with) – I did screw it up a bit… but I think I now understand the concept and the reason that I screwed it up! I watched Alejandro de Abajo (my new nick name for him) make the most beautiful shrimp tartare wrapped in mandolined mini zuchinni. And I got to taste it – very yummy, creamy with a little chilli heat from a kind of aguachile emulsion we had made earlier. I learned how to clean soft shell crab and how to make a beautiful tamal using the Restaurant technique with a Jerusalem artichoke, brown butter and pink pine nut stuffing (I made the stuffing yesterday). I suspect I will become a tamale expert at some point in the next week or two. Today was my first successful attempt at making them.
Today was the first day that I properly started trying to speak Spanish and I feel quite good about it. In my tomato peeling hours hunched over the stove, just behind the dishwasher (in a 6 x 6 space) I normally get to hang out with the dishwasher, Rommy, and the downstairs praticante, Ilian. Neither of them speak any English – although Ilian is the guy that likes to sing backstreet boys. The fact that they can’t speak English means that I get to practice my Spanish. Mostly we tease each other and make fun of whatever crap the other person is making. It’s the best training wheels for my spanish confidence.
Otherwise, people are surprisingly nice and helpful with my spanish and I can ask how to conjugate a verb or if this or that is the right way to say something. I would say about half of the people speak passable English, so I can always ask them for a word etc.
As I have a lot of time to think while doing repetitive tasks, I also spend time thinking about verb conjugations and then spitting out sentences or saying a sentence and then thinking for a minute about how I could have said the sentence better and then saying it again tentatively and waiting for the feedback.
I was so tired today by the end of the day. I could hardly walk by the end of the day. But my Birkenstocks are insanely comfortable and have quickly moulded to my feet… but my feet are still throbbing (even now having been in bed for an hour). I also managed to slice through my thumb nail in the last 3 minutes of the day while julienning mushrooms . Second time in 5 days! The good news is that my knife is sharp!
Today Alan el Espanol (who’s on staff meal duty this week) made a really delicious lasagne plus a chocolate mousse with fresh fruit and lavender salt for dinner. I had two huge portions of lasagne AND dessert since I hadn’t eaten today except for a cup full of fruit loops (why the hell they have fruit loops in the kitchen is beyond me – haven’t had those since circa age 10 – I like it!), two cookies (one hot out of the oven from Pastry, yum!) and a latte. I was seriously light headed before eating!!
I also worked out last night that I will be spending a bit of time in the prep kitchen and then in pastry and finally in service. I can’t wait to learn all the different bits of the kitchen! Also in this restaurant they move all the lower people (non chefs) around from one section of the kitchen to another. A seriously interesting take – since it means that everyone gets a go at everything and everyone understands exactly what’s happening in all the different areas of the kitchen. I thought for sure the pastry chef only did pastry… but apparently not! The whole system makes the kitchen the most incredible school in itself.
Yesterday Harriet, Ellian and Marvin spent about 2 hours or more filleting flounder. Marvin led the way and the were all experts by the end! It was really great to watch as I saw their slightly unique take on filleting (leave the head on so the fish is easier to work with). They also don’t use fish filleting knives – just their normal chefs knives – interesting!
Speaking of fast paced learning, apparently Dara (my prep mentor) has a day off next week … and I have to run the whole prep kitchen by myself!!! Christ! Thank god I’ve been writing down all the recipes…! I guess I just have to accept that it might not be perfect, but keep going. Interesting lessons to be learned.
First week done.
Keep trying, maybe you’ll be perfect on attempt 105
You can eat shrimp raw
Using the best ingredients yields the best results – oh we also made smoked caviar out of the langoustine eggs!!! Yum!
OH MY GOD- banana vinegar blows my mind!!!!
This restaurant uses everything – all the peels get dehydrated and turned into powders, langostine tails turned into bright pink oil, heads used for stuffing
Sharp knife good, but keep fingers tucked in when chopping, dumbass