Posts tagged ‘comida’

Time Is Ticking

Armanzo’s last day is Saturday. Mine is a week after that. Urgh, I’m nervous and my heart is aching. I feel like I’ve come such a long way and now I’m leaving everything I’ve built up to another (younger) generation. (Of course, “younger” is hyperbolic since our newer line cooks are as old/older than me.)

I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with the blog as well as I should have, especially when I could’ve talked about work in relation to the end of my tenure at avec. I’m just really, really lazy >_< I humbly beg for forgiveness!

I worked on Station 3 tonight. Fred was on 2, and new girl Monica was on 1. Fred's coming into his own, but he's still got some stumbling blocks. Who doesn't? I'm not perfect either when I'm on 2, but I'm a lot more confident than I used to be. And I'm not as intimidated as I was when I was first thrown onto the station. THAT day will forever live on infamy in my heart. But I overcame it, and man, am I that much stronger for it.

Speaking of strong, station 3 doesn't even phase me anymore. I don't know if it's just my competence level or they way the tickets were running, but every time I'm on 3 now, I have really easy nights. (So easy, I don't even bother to write about them.) I can't believe I used to have trouble cooking hangar steaks to medium-rare or getting out cheese plates in a timely fashion. I can even easily converse with diners now (if I choose to do so). Working the station has been going so smoothly, I can even help out Station 2, when they're busy, by starting/finishing their fish dishes for them. I've found myself a lot of the time searing Armanzo's and Fred's merluza (aka hake) or flipping salmon and pulling beans off the heat. I know I help Armanzo, but I've definitely saved Fred some Station 2 grief. It's hard enough for a newbie to worry about rolling out (and not burning) focaccia without having to deal with extraneous fish dishes as well.

That said, tonight was a mellow, easy-paced night. Earlier today Fred brought in a quart of jasmine rice, which I cooked off and cooled. Later in the night, Fred and I tag-teamed to prep out ingredients for fried rice for comida/staff meal. It was fun. "Oh you know, it's just a couple of Asians making some fried rice," I joked. We made two kinds, pork and chicken, which turned out AWESOME. Server Giulietta said she doesn't like rice and she couldn't stop eating it. Sontra hardly ever partakes in comida and she actually grabbed a bowl. I'm gonna toot my own horn: it was good. Rice is king! A billion Asians can't be wrong!

I'm back on 2 tomorrow. Fun times. (Famous last words?)

Oh, I'd also like to mention that in the vein of leaving a legacy (to the younger avec generation), Fred (and to a lesser extent, Rachel) have picked up my habit of calling out the order of firing stuff "at leisure". I started saying it because I didn't want the line cooks to feel like they'd have to rush a dish the minute I told them to cook it, and also, it helped me keep courses paced out enough in a timely fashion without me having to eagle-eye ticket times. Hopefully they also carry on my Saturday night tradition of bringing in something/making comida as a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel as well as my bordering-on-OCD love of cutting parchment paper. It warms my heart that in some ways I'll still be around even when I'm gone.

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Oh Boo

Saturday soul suck, I mean, service, wasn’t actually too bad. For once, Station 3 was the busy station (except Ruth is awesome and could totally handle it).

Ruth made comida tonight, which was Cioppino Version 3.0, except I was so excited for the food that I scarfed it down really fast and didn’t even pause to take a picture or analyze what made this one different, aside from shaved fennel, julienned onion, sliced yukon potatoes (ver. 1 had sliced fingerlings), no alcohol of any kind and it was much thinner (less concentrated in flavor) than version 1. O. Still tasty! And to my surprise, even Master Blaster wanted in on the soup, when usually he’s all pizza or steak-and-potatoes. It’s the magic of Ruth’s cooking.

I work station 2 tomorrow (Sunday) again as well. Who would’ve thought that Station 2 is actually fun. Holy crap Elliot was right. Which goes to show that he really is that freakin’ awesome. Sunday soul suck! Oh well, the only way to combat it is to bring in some tasty treats to share. Or buy a ton of Gatorade for the troops. With temps reaching the 90s all week, we’ve been guzzling down the stuff. C’mon Gatorade–I think line cooks should be included in your commercials as well.

Oh, Snap!: I Made Some Comida

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

Ever since I moved up the ladder and we got Master Blaster as our dishwasher, the responsibility of making food for the dishwasher has all but diminished. Sure, we still make him food. But it’s not like before, when we used to make it with whatever was in the walk-in and every dinner was a delicious surprise (or, depending on the line cook, a passable offense). Nowadays, the ole Blaster asks for something and we make it. I long for ye olden days.

So last Saturday night, it was with gleeful delight that undertook the making of staff meal. Whoa, that’s a term that’s not often heard at Avec. Ruth had handed me a quart of whitefish scrap to make comida for Master Blaster, but those plans fell through, and well… everyone else benefited. Heck, I wasn’t going to let a quart of super fresh fish go to waste. And immediately I thought, “Cioppino!” except we didn’t have any other seafood other than squid, and some salt cod (in the brandade). Whatever! Not like that stopped me and Ruth from making some tasty fish soup. Version 1 (pictured above) was made on Saturday and included fideo, potato, roasted endive, and a heavy finish of pastis.

Version 2, made on Monday, had fennel, roasted endive (love that mellow bitterness!), rice, fava beans and considerably less pastis, with the addition of sambuca. Maybe I’m partial to version 2 because I can wholly call it my own (version 1 was a Betty and Ruth collaboration), but I liked the subtle flavor of the liqueurs I used to finish, preferring to let the seafood be the star, as opposed to Saturday’s soup with its long pastis finish. I guess I’m all about subtlety.

It felt really good to make a good meal out of random odds and ends of ingredients. I’m thinking that as long as there is really good fish scrap, I’ll be making really good fish soups all summer. Hmm, next up, fish chowder?

Oh, Snap!: Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting

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

Saturday service is long and brutal but who cares when your awesome manager (Liz) comes in with bags of candy for the troops? ZOMG Starburst! Airheads! Sour Patch Kids! I don’t even really like peanut butter but those Peanut Butter Snickers were the bizniz. Awww yeah… sugar rush all night.

Sylvester came in to eat with his girl and besides ordering a whole fish (which was delicious, I might add, toot toot) he had a focaccia and since line cooks MUST have a sense of humor (it sez so here) Ruth made this:

It’s at an awkward angle, but donger focaccia with cheese jizz is awesome. I totally encouraged it, and I’m glad Ruth had the same thought when I suggested about the “garnish”.

Mwahahaha I love my job.

Monday Opener

It was a bit of a surprise when I saw that I was scheduled to open on Monday since KO has been the Monday opener lately (and I’m usually on Station 3). That was cool though; I had the next day off. Yay!

The point of openers is to get prep (especially major prep) done for the day’s service. After setting up the line, my next order of operations was to start cooking anything that needed cooking. I was at a bit of a loss for a little while though, because I’d checked the prep list the night before and a lot of stuff was crossed off. I’m so hardwired on cooking major prep items first that when there aren’t really any around, I’m thrown out of sync.

In retrospect I could’ve gotten ahead on certain things, like spiced carrots (for the shoulder) or making the Amatriciana sauce, but I was too busy having my head up my ass at the time to remember them. And later on when they did come to mind, a little bit of laziness in the form of, “Eh, they have enough to last for the night. It can be made tomorrow” came into play >_< I shouldn't think like this from now on ._.

One of the big ticket items I did make that day was the pasta. We've changed the pappardelle back to chitarra. My prep cook's heart is a little saddened at this change because I love making pappardelle (I'll have to have a photo entry to that sometime soon) but as a line cook, I'm happier because it was a bit of a pain to cook. In the past there was a pot of water to cook the pappardelle to order, which I'm sure was SO fun :/ And then we started par-cooking the pasta sheets but even after oiling them they stuck together. So the chitarra is really better, prep-wise and presentation-wise. After rolling sheets, you just run them through the cutter attachment. And on the pick-up, there's less of a worry of overcooking the pasta and having it fall apart on you when you're plating it out.
Anyway, I rolled and cooked all the pasta. There were two fish tubs worth, so hopefully I saved Tuesday's opener some hassle.

Speaking of pappardelle, since it was no longer on the menu, the remaining bit was consigned to the comida corner. And when I open, I try to make sure I feed Jorge, our butcher (and my best friend at avec haha), and Manuel, our day-cleaner/dishwasher. These two are definitely among avec's hardest working staff and I want to see them taken care of. When I was a kitchen slave prep cook and worked under an opener, I really appreciated it when I was fed because avec doesn’t do staff meals. On top of that, Jorge comes in to work at 4am and Manny’s in at 9am, and aside from coffee, it’s not like they can make their own food. Lunch break? Yeah right. So I’ve made it one of my priorities to make sure to feed them because I remember what it’s like to not be fed and be hungry for hours. And the sting of indignation of being hungry and then seeing a certain opener eating something he made for himself.

Anyway, I cooked off the leftover pappardelle in a tomato cream sauce with kale/spinach, chopped up chorizo (from some leftover dates), and a small handful of the menu’s “ravioli filling” (pork neck meat with grated pecorino).

Katie (who was on 1 that night) came in early and had some, saying it was good. Yay! Jorge liked it. He had two helpings. Double yay!

As opener, I also made the daily antipasto that day. Other line cooks probably don’t think much of it, but I thought it was another big step in my line cook life, having made up an antipasto of my own. The last time I opened and had to make an antipasto, I copped out and remade some more of the antipasto from the night before, which was marinated kale with roasted beets. Freakin’ delicious and definitely sells, but a cop-out nonetheless. This time, the previous night’s antipasto was farro, white aspargus, roasted broccoli, and pomegranate seeds. Delicious and all, but I knew that it was a remade batch from Saturday and I was NOT going to sell the same kind of antipasto for the fourth day in a row.


Tada! It’s red quinoa with shaved fennel, roasted butternut squash and carrots, parsley, with sherry vinaigrette. I hope no one hated it, and I hope at least a good amount of it sold. (You can never tell with certain antipasti.)

Anyway, that was my opener. Who knows when the next one will be, but hopefully it will be relatively stress-free and I’ll make more awesome comida!

Oh yeah, I also wanted to report that on Saturday my Wusthof knife came back! How it happened, no one knows, but Elliot found it in his box. Yay! Ironically, when I went to make pasta, my cheap Edward Don knife that I use for pasta production went missing :/

Oh Snap!: Durty Ruth

No time for a full entry! Look at this pretty picture!

Aha! Maybe a new sandwich tradition will be born because Ruth made a “pulled pork” sandwich that looks like the Sloppy Betty! I think Ruth used Amatriciana sauce as her base, and she threw cornichons in the sandwich. It was pretty tasty (though of course, I’ll always be partial to my own ^_^). I told Ruth she should name her sandwich the Dirty Ruth (following the same adjective scheme) and she consented “only if you spell it with a U” and so… Durty Ruth it is!

Tonight also marks the first time Ruth has made comida for more than one person (that I know of). Hurrah! Feeding the hungry masses who are your coworkers!

Tonight was also my first Saturday on 3. I survived! And not only that, I did fine. I sold out my specials early and no one ordered any foie gras. Thank the kitchen gods–I’m not a fan of cooking foie. It was cool when we first had it on the menu but now I’m just getting tired of it. My zeal started to flag around 11:30pm when I started mentally asking myself, “Is it over yet?!” and my only hiccup was later that night when I almost had trouble staying on top of hangar steaks. I was able, but at one point, it felt like it was just barely. But the night’s over now and I did well.

Ruth may or may not be on her own on 3 this Sunday (Paula’s scheduled to be on 1, but she may go down and therefore Ruth might need to bail her out) but whatever the case, I’m glad I did well. Toot toot! I tried to get out cheese and desserts as fast as I could. My newest stumbling block is salumi plates. Urgh too many pieces of salumi to layer… and I thought cheese with accompaniments was annoying…!

I was able to talk a bit more with people at the chef’s table. Through Armanzo’s encouragement I’m coming out a bit more from my shell. Which shows how awesome Armanzo is because he’s so engaging.

Also: avec’s been work-related accident-free for 86 days now. 4 more days and we get a pizza party. It’s ON! Everyone’s so hyper-aware, it’s almost funny. All I can say is, whoever fucks up and makes us lose the party will get fucked up by me (and probably everybody) in the back alley. I promise!