While My Eyes Gently Weep

So… I’m currently on vacation. I usually don’t usually update the blog during this time (or my off days either) because I’m not working and there’s nothing to say. But something happened that had to be noted.

Two days ago I got a text from Koren saying how she loved me and would miss me. Thinking that she forgot I was on vacation, I thought nothing of it and just replied how I loved her back. I may have wondered about the wording but then again, I tend to take things at face value a lot.

A couple of hours later during a drive, I got a text from an old coworker asking how avec was doing, he’d just read an article about mom (Koren’s nickname).

“I’m outta town right now. Everything was fine when I left. What did the article say?”

“That Koren left avec. Officially.”

….

WHATDAFUQ?

And when I got back, I hopped on eater and there it was, about how she’d left. But nothing about why.

I have my theories on why she did, though they don’t mean shit until I get the truth or some more details. Until then, I texted Ruth asking stuff. Apparently there’d been a meeting about her departure. Paul and Donnie were both getting “misty”. Apparently Publican’s Earling will take over. My first reaction was: AUGH! WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO US ALL?!??! But with a couple days passing I’m over it now. Koren’s left. I’m leaving. I mean, the change was in the wind. I’m out soon and for better or for worse, avec’s gonna weather the storm.

Comings And Goings

Last week was the second year anniversary of the avec fire. I honestly didn’t remember (I thought it was the 10th) until later that night, we saw a tealight candle and a small bouquet of flowers in the corner by the alley. It put a somber mood to what also happened to be Liz’s last day.
It also happened to be a hideously long service for a Wednesday that night. So long, in fact, that I never got to break out the farewell ice-cream cake. We didn’t cut into it until long after we’d closed and only a handful of Blackbird staff had come over. And even then, they cut into the cake while I was outside. In my heart, I would’ve really liked to have sent Liz off like we did Elliot, with rousing farewells and toasts. Because I think of Liz as an essential member of the avec family and I wanted to wish her well and let her know she’s totally loved and will be missed.

That said, her replacement is Esther, formerly of Publican. Welcome to the family!

It’s been a while since I last posted. Apologies for that. For a while, it felt like most nights were somewhat smooth sailing whenever I worked a station. However, last night and tonight, for a while, I was sucking really badly. Yesterday I was on 3 and for maybe an hour during service, I was firing things too late or too early. I felt like an asshole, especially cos I fired a whole fish a course too early, with nowhere else to sell it. So that was a $30 loss. (Urgh T_T) Then I fired a foie too late, and had Armanzo quietly scolding me (“When I tell you to fire something, fire it. And now this person is going to wait 25 minutes for this foie”) and I felt even more like an asshole. but you know what? I can’t wallow in this sorrow, so I got over it, and the night ended up fine. Armanzo’s dad came in to eat and totally enjoyed the meal and everything was hunky-dory.

And then the next day, I worked on 2, and we got this early pop that saw me sucking very, very badly and left me lagging. Flatbread is my achilles heel right now and when there’s more than one on the board, I’m already pretty much screwed. I can’t seem to make those things any faster than I already am, while trying to call tickets and navigate orders. On top of that, I got set back even more when, while cutting into a focaccia, it ripped so irreparably that I had to throw it away and start anew. Draaaaaat! AND THEN! Armanzo was in the window and somehow a bunch of tickets got stabbed, so I had servers in the window asking for food on tickets I DIDN’T HAVE.

Normally stabbed tickets are an annoyance, but this time I decided to see it as a silver lining, because if some food is taking forever, it’s technically not my fault because I wasn’t even aware it existed. So, in some perverse way, it bought me some time. And time is what I really needed. Aside from another set of hands, and that wasn’t gonna happen. All in all, I did the best I could. What’s even weirder was that service evened out and I got back on track and was (self-proclaimed) awesome again, I looked at our covers and we only did 133, which was slower than the night before. Whatever, I’m over it.

Is it weird that even though Armanzo in the window was throwing a wrench in the service (and Sylvester, for about three steaks, could NOT seem to stop overcooking them), I totally appreciated his being there because I happened to be in my own little whirlpool of suckiness and wasn’t even capable of looking at the tickets? Well, I totally am grateful he was there, stabbed tickets and quiet scolding et al.

I open tomorrow. I work station 2 Friday and Saturday. May the kitchen gods smile upon me!

Oh, and last Saturday I brought in Velveeta skillet dinner kits (think Hamburger Helper, but cheesier) for Saturday Soul-Suck Survival, and it was epic. I used chorizo in place of ground beef and the whole thing turned out really rich in an over-the-top-delicious-but-my-arteries-are-paying-for-it kinda way (I also threw in sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and green beans in an attempt to tone down the richness, but it was like fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun). Would I buy it again? Hell yes, but I’d definitely make some changes. For one thing, if I’m going to use chorizo again, I’m sure as hell not going to dump in the whole bag of seasoning. That was intense. I’m also going to add more vegetables. Because life isn’t really worth living if there are no awesome vegetables.
(The week before that was amaretto cheesecake from JR Dessert Bakery. DELICIOUS.)

Fighting The Only Way I Know How

Another Saturday Soul-Suck come and gone. It was rough, but even more so because it’s Lollapalooza weekend. Times like these, I’m glad that the kitchen gods seem to smile in my favor because no matter how bad it felt today, it was much, much worse last night. And of course, Armanzo was working on Station 2.
According to him, not only did we do 247 covers (as opposed to last year’s 275; ew gross), they mostly came in huge parties, 6-tops, 10-tops, 12-tops–GROSS…..
Apparently chicken was selling like crazy (focaccia and flatbread a given), and to make it worse, Sylvester was NOT killing it that night. “I told him he needed to stop sucking,” Armanzo recounted to me the next day. And also, to make things even more interesting, a rocks-glass shattered on Armanzo’s station and glass was everywhere, resulting in him throwing out a lot of stuff.

Seriously?! This is the kind of stuff that chips away at your morale. And yet luckily, I’ve managed to come away from the station mostly unscathed. For example, tonight we only did about 210 covers, partly due to an early storm that was so severe Lollapalooza attendees had to evacuate the venue. If not for that, I’m sure we would’ve easily seen at least 40 more covers come in to eat. (Because when I’m at a large outdoor concert all hot and sweaty, the first thing I think of when I’m hungry is avec *eye roll*)
Instead, we got a pop and then stayed steady all night, with nearly no glitches. Service was steady and (atrociously) long, but so what? Since when is Saturday not a long soul-suck?

To combat this, I’ve decided that every Saturday I work up until my last day, I’m going to bring in something for the crew. A light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Last week it was flavored ice freezer bars. The week before that was Japanese sports drinks and dumplings. This week was cheesecake and sparklers. YEAH! Saturday service makes me want to eat a gun, but having something to look forward to in the evening helps to restore a little bit of my (and my coworkers’) sanity.

Speaking of sanity, a 3-top at the bar came in just before the kitchen closed and dared to order foie. Even though we DID have foie, Liz told them we were out of it. Thanks Liz! Seriously, don’t think that ordering foie this late in the night will impress us. It’ll just piss us off. We don’t give a shit that you have the means to afford the foie. We’d actually like it if you didn’t come in that late to order food. They ended up ordering pork shoulder (just as bad), focaccia, flatbread, and a crostini. *eye roll*

On to next week!

Been Over It

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or just the fickle ways of the Kitchen Gods, but every time Armanzo works Station 2, he seems to be on the receiving end of a beating. Tonight flatbread was popping off, like for serious. It seemed as if every other ticket had flatbread on it, and more often than not it was as a first course. Meanwhile I’m on Station 3 twiddling my thumbs, feeling REALLY bad that I can’t help out in this kind of situation. The most I could really do was to cook off the occasional order of redfish or plate up some anchovy. Yeah… really helpful.

Armanzo said that he sold 24 flatbread. WTF?!?! It blows my mind on so many levels. How is it possible that he sold less focaccia? Why was the flatbread so popular tonight? Why is Armanzo constantly getting raped on Station 2? It didn’t help that earlier that night, Giulietta accidentally knocked over a pint of oil all over his station =_=;;;
All I can say is, I am SOOOOOO glad I wasn’t working that station tonight, or else you’d be reading a completely different blog entry. Probably full of cursing and maybe a lot of crying and recounting how I had another meltdown or something.

That said, I had a really good night on Station 3.

In other news, we have another addition to our avec family, albeit a part-time one. Her name is Linda, and she’s friends with Armanzo, having worked at the Publican and Perennial. She’s very sweet and she’s the owner of a beautiful Corian knife that makes me want to run out and buy more knives. She’ll be working with us for two days out of the week (don’t quote me on this), so yay for having another girl on the line!

Looking To The East

Times are a-gettin’ desperate sort of and we’ve been getting in stages to try to fill positions left by others. It was a little disheartening when everytime I’d come in Amranzo would tell me a stage had cancelled 😦 Come on! We’re awesome! (Aside from the brutally long service and shtuff.) Oh well, your loss.

Anyway, yesterday we finally hired someone. Um… he’s not my first pick, but we’re kinda desperate (eeek!) and he’s not too shabby. He got line time last night and he did alright. He didn’t burn any dates and he wasn’t too agonizingly slow >.>;;;
Anyway! Welcome to the family, Andrew! He starts officially next week.

We’ve been joking that avec has been becoming more and more Asian lately. There’s me (Chinese), Fred (Thai), and Ruth (who watches so much anime she’s now infused with a little bit of Japanese, haha). And now Andrew, who is Korean. Ruth and I jokingly tried to poach Blackbird’s Lorraine (Vietnamese) because we need more girls on the line but it was not to be. To add to the funniness, Ruth and I have been slowly stocking up dry storage with Asian staples like soy sauce, miso, and Shaoxing cooking wine. A couple of weeks ago I bought a bag of sushi rice, and am aiming to bring in some furikake. No worries, all of this stuff was for the intent of using them for comida, but then again, Fred’s newest chicken dish on the menu has lemongrass and fish sauce and doesn’t even try to pretend to be Mediterranean….

I’m just pleased that with Andrew as a new addition, Fred will probably see some station 3 action, and hopefully, if I’m still here by the time Fred is proficient enough, we’ll all be scheduled together on the line and it’ll be a freakin’ HOOT. Mwahahahahaha!

Oh, Snap!: Spellcheck

No time for a full entry! Look at these pretty pictures!

I think these pretty much speak for themselves.


“Lentals”, anyone?


Apparently they pronounce “dredge” differently from the rest us?


You can call it botarga, bottarga, botargo, boutargue, butarga, and even avgotaraho, but definitely not “batraga”.

Pain Is A Constant Reminder

I had a really easy service tonight on station 3. For some reason, whole fish was popping off and I sold out all 10 of mine. Ahh, I really love it when we have dourade! It’s such a well-behaved and beautifully-cooking fish. It’s not long and unwieldy like branzino, nor is it juicy and rebellious like red snapper (it’s also hideous-looking when it’s cooked).
I also only had a one and a half third-pans of pasta all day and I was looking forward to selling it out. Sadly it didn’t happen but by the end of the night I had a half-order left. I went through my third-pan of hangar and had two trout left when the kitchen closed. Man, I was popular tonight!

I’m looking forward to my day off tomorrow. With Katie and Elliot gone we’re a little more understaffed, and then Ruth took a 5-day staycation because her friend was in town visiting, so Armanzo and I really felt the burn. On Monday I was scheduled for noon, which hasn’t happened in a long time, but Armanzo came in at 10 for a couple of days. I was a little worried for him and his health because he’s tired and he’s also trying to move out of his apartment. Oh gahd, I still have to prepare for my own move; I left a note for Jorge & Co. to please save the boxes from our Werp Farms delivieries so I could use them for packing….

I need a six-month long massage. The right side of my neck feels tight and achy and the pain is starting to radiate down my upper arm. I finally broke down and applied some of those Salonpas medicated strips, which of course don’t really do much in the long term.
Also, I fell down a couple of days ago and there’s a big ugly bruise on my knee.

I want a vacation. I’m taking one, but not until mid-August, WHICH CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH. In the meantime, I’m really freakin’ looking forward to my day off tomorrow and Sunday.