Saturday, January 28, 2012

Amazing week at work...

This week was an amazing food week for us. We made porchetta (pork belly stuffed with rosemary and garlic, braised in red wine) and Kabocha squah polenta. I felt like we managed our food product really well (the pork bellies had been in cure for Residual Sugar just in case they needed a second round of potted pig) and we are getting the produce thing under control.

We were approachd by Catalan family farms (organic, Merced) for produce delivery to the restaurant. I ordered a case of romaine (Which we run out of ALL the time), onions, celery, beets and I think red onions. The produce was gorgeous! But the caseo of romaine was HUGE, like 4 times what we would use in a week. The beets were too small for making chips, but they were some of the most gorgeous beets I've ever seen. So we par boiled them and put the golden beets in the Italian pickle brine. Weare going to serve it next week with the duck confit we just made and some kind of decadent locally made soft goats cheese. I hope people will go for the beets; they are so beautiful and delicious. I am not sure what we are going to do with the red beets? Borscht?

I think our customers are starting to trust us to make good food but I am not sure they are going to for Borscht! LOL

I am in love with my restaurant. I am in love with Martinez.

Foodie Friday has really started to catch on. We get a late crowd that is mostly dine-in and likes to linger and talk. I get to chat up everyone and even my shyer sous chef gets out and mingles with people. This week my "Boyfriend" (foodie extroinaire) came in on Friday as well and really enjoyed the Pumpkin Beer Brat soup and the special. There was a group of three in the restaurant that (all three) ordered the Charcuterie plate (which is very unusual). I figured they must have read about us in the paper and came specifically for the meats, but it turned out they just happenstanced in and like charcuterie and were pleasantly surprised that we made our own on site. They sent me an awesome video via email this morning of a friend making Slovak sausage (what we would think of as Keilbasa).

I love the rythm of the town. The jurors come and go. We have a new crop in this week. Two older gentlemen have adopted the restauant as their lunch time hang out and they are both really into food. I love to hear themmaking happy noises when they have lunch! One of our original court house regulars, Ginger, came by with her best friend for Foodie Friday. I was so excited to see her I jumped out and gave her a big hug! Her friend thought this very impressive; Ginger was THE Man for being so in with the chef. They had a great time with their carafe of wine in the sunny corner round.

We have hit our break even point more weeks than we've not in the past 6 weeks, which is pretty spectacular. I've been told this is highly unusual for a new restaurant and I am just so proud of Stein and I and so exited for the future. I am at the point where I can sit down and get started setting up repayment of the pesonal loans from friends who have helped me get started. Nothing would make me happier than to pay off my debt this year and actually start taking home a paycheck!

I love my early mornings in Martinez. I am up before light and the little bayside town is usualy glistening with morning wet when I roll up. Mornings are our quiet time and there is something about a hot cup of really good coffee and sun streaming in and a quiet anonymous space to think unfettered. We get the translators in the morning, happily chattering away in Spanish. They love the morning buns and french press coffee.

Every Fridy my first patrons of the day are Jeff and his dad. They get beignet and french press coffee and I chatter away to them both, sometimes grabbing my mocha and sitting down. Stein usually comes in right around this time and we pre-shift what needs to still be done to get ready for lunch. Our food is very labor intensive and there is little down time and much coordination needed to get everything done.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Watching Food of Medieval England on the Cooking Channel

Which is hysterical. DEAR SWEET BABY JESUS it is good to have some down time. I am just vegging out, I spilled some red wine on my shirt, I made boxed pumpkin pie (which is on sale at my local Safeway), tried to coerce my friend Debbie in to coming over for football (Niners ROCKED it tonight)... and we put the brisket in brine oday so I don't need to go in tomorrow (other than to hit he famer's market).

I also cooked down he rabbit legs in port wine and mire poix and got that stored for Monday's ragu, plus made the layered polenta and goat's cheese. Now we just need a soup for Monday and we will be set. I have been wanting to do a pumpkin beer and bawurst soup. I saved some bratwurst from our special from two weeks ago and I will see what kind of pumpkin beer is at the store... only people in Martinez really seem to want vegetarian soups... but I like beer and brats... and pumpkin.

I am madly in love wth Martinez. I have been so embraced by the local foodies... so much more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. It is flattering and wonderful, but I am also worried about meeting expectations. When people have so much faith in you, there is  long way to fall. I just hope I can deserve all the kudos. I really really want to be that good.

Sleeping in til 7:00 am is so totally going to rock! Snuggling with the kids will be sublime! What will I do with  day (almost) off!?

What I didn't do... case the Sec and Tusca for Savour. I feel especially bad about it since I am drinking the left over awesome wine they gave me for the salumi! I realized whenI went to case it that I had not added te fat. I broke the blade for my buffalo chopper and won't b able to replace it until Monday. But I alreaady bound the meat! Argh... at least it's salted so it is preserved properly.

(ohhhh the Medival Feast part of the show)

Friday, January 13, 2012

I love my vocation

Today was La Patrona carving a lot of chaos into something less chaotic and some truly beautiful moments. My absolutely indispensable sous chef had the flu. He's been sick for a while but he finally was too sick to come in. Brion saved me and the week was one of our slowest ever, so I made it thru and put out our weekly special and our Friday meatball slider special without losing my mind.

It was a week of magic. I am still tired but I feel clearer. I feel like I am embracing my reality. It seems too good to be true; this beautiful little bay side town with so many passionate food people. I  feel embraced; like I am home.

This morning two of my favorite regulars (Lita and her husband) came in for Beignet and a charc plate and I got to putter around and talk salumi. The day was sunny and bright and I hustled to get the stuff done that Stein would normally do, fry off some chips, slice the smoked duc for the special... plus my own prep; the pasta, the charc plates, the Muffuleta sandwiches for Savour's Groupon special.

Dejan From Savour came by to grab the sandwiches and Bri and I chatted briefly with him. It was a busy and happy day. Hirsch and Aldith came in for lunch. So did the beautiful and fabulous Alicia Stein. The woman who had the horrific ccustomer service experience last Thursday came back in (YAY!) and I got to 1. grovel for forgiveness (much to her amusement) and 2. Buy her a salad. I think we both had a good laugh about my abject miserableness over her prior experience. And I think she was charmed by my honest desire to make it right, and that I had been waiting for her to come back for that purpose.

Then at the end of the day a group of seven come in, three women, three men, and a beautiful tiny baby girl all wrapped up in a cloth around momma's body. There was something special about the group... a euphoria... like people who had just seen the face of God smiling directly at them. The mom and dad of the baby were starving; they had not eaten all day but he had a tiny scrap of paper in his lapel with his list of food allergies... dairy... eggs... nuts... I sold them some of our beef and potato soup in duck broth, two teas and a latte. They all sat in the middle of the restaurant with grins on their faces... This BTW is pretty unusual for people who were clearly in town to deal with stuff at the court house.

We got to chatting, while baby girl flirted with me (giant blue eyes, big dimples) over the top of the snuggi she was firmly wrapped in. Today her adoption was final. Momma and Dad were there with her aunts and uncles and they had just left the courthouse with the papers that made it official that they all would belong to each other forever. And the whole family was glowing with joy, relief... joy.

Life can be so unbelievably beautiful.