Monday, September 27, 2010

Put Your Knife Bag Where Your Mouth Is, Part 1

*disclosure: My knife bag never gets anywhere near the kitchen. It sounds cooler than measuring spoons.

It starts with a scallop.
I don’t like scallops.
Choked so many times on the smell of a 5 lb. bucket while taking off the tiny little stomach muscle for catering, that the thought makes me queasy.

But here I am at Ludobites 4.0 and the girls love the damn shellfish.
I figure, this was all my idea, I can’t look like the candy-ass here.  I gotta do it and make a happy face. So I pick it up, pop it in, squint my eyes to chew and...
This is not a scallop.
A scallop sucks and tastes like sweet vomit.

This little lover is the size of a cherry, has a crust and I swear to God there’s bacon in there somewhere.
I start thinking about what they use to make that scallop taste so smoky and it hits me. Other than wondering if everyone washes their hands, or how long those eggs have been sitting next to the flattop, I don’t THINK in restaurants anymore.   

It didn’t use to be this way.
Chefs eat out. A lot. If you cook all week, you want time off from the tongs. When Nick and I started dating, we ate our way through the J. Gold guide and back again, dissecting each dish along the way.

Then Mama gets knocked up and gives birth to a baby orangutan who is incapable of polite restaurant manners.  No matter how many times spankings in the car are threatened or carried out, the table is crawled under, the forks are banged on the table.

We look for restaurants with the crayons, like those who have gone before us into this culinary wasteland. Chicken strips, grilled cheese. As many jelly packets as I can shove into that little bastards mouth to get him to shut the Jesus up until the waitress/food/check gets here.
We develop a system where we look online at the menu before we go so we can order and ask for the bill the second the server says hello.
Dijon mustard is as close to France as my mouth is getting.

 After 5 years of this, I am reading the Weekly when I see a blurb about a “Pop Up” restaurant at Royal T.  I have passed this place every day for 7 months and have quite often wondered what it was since seems so out of place on the block it’s on.
That tattooed  French chef from Top Chef Masters is doing it, it’s amazing, BYOB, blah blah blah blah......
Some wild hair goes up beyond my ass and onto my keyboard where I sign up for the mailing list so I can find out more.

Now, I was there kids, before the MASSES had masses.
I got my reservation easy as pie. 
An email came, I decided what day and time, and DONE.
If you ask me why I had to do this, I really have no idea. I didn’t know who I would go with, I just wanted to get out of the house and do something different. 

So there I am, fork deep in scallop trying to figure this mess out when a bowl of ham soup arrives. No you di’int.

This is probably the most amazing soup I’ve ever had. It’s an Everlasting Gobstopperer where the flavor keeps changing from singular to group. Hello ham, wait, where’d you go? Are you hiding behind the radish or the pickle? Or the cheese.  Or the Guiness. If God really likes you, you will get to taste this soup someday.

When the meal is over I feel exhilarated. Like Sleeping Beauty ate herself a macaron and woke up. Have I really paid that little attention to cooking for this long? My passion has been locked in the walk-in and was eating cool-whip out of the container until it got rescued. The nice people at Ludobites are kind enough to open the door.

I have Googled a bit about the kitchen and sort of joke with the chef’s wife/hostess with the mostest Krissy about being an intern next time. I don’t think she takes me very seriously...........

next up - Twitter is for stalkering........