Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The baby is four months old!

We opened the Compass Star on Nov 15 and so in just a couple of days the baby will be four months old!

It's been such an amazing four months. I am still not getting paid and money is a constant struggle, but we are managing to pay our other bills, which is pretty good for a first year restaurant. I have an extern now, her name is Haley and we simply love her. She is finishing her last requisites for the Cordon Bleu school in Sacramento.

We spent Sunday at my house breaking down a 240 pound pig that was organically raised for my friend Ajax. It was a GORGEOUS pig, very thick and lustrous fat, great color and texture. I feel so good about the education Haley is getting at the CS from Stein and I. Remedial knowledge of butchery is a great skill to have in any high end kitchen and salumi is very trendy right now with few restaurants are doing it. She is already a bad-ass, but when she leaves our care, she is going to be even more so!

I am still madly in love with Martinez and enjoying the foodie scene downtown. I spent Monday Night at Creek Monkey hanging out with Jim Blair and his new brew master Matt getting a lesson in beer making. It was (of course) ridiculously interesting especially how amazingly delicious all the parts of the beer making process are. The mash was like oatmeal made out of Grape Nuts and the wort was.... SO yummy, I could drink that like tea. I can think of 20 things I could make with these tertiary ingredients that would be amazing. I really love the brew pub, the bar tenders (I think Valerie is my favorite) are great and lots of good beers on tap. The beer they are currently making will be served at the April 21st Craft Brew Festival and we are planning to make a fresh sausage that incorporates that beer and serve it at the festival as well. It seems unbelievable to me that it is almost April.

I feel a lot of kinship with Jim, we both opened our first restaurants right around the same time and have been both horrified, brutalized, inspired, exhausted and delighted by the process.

It's strange, we've been so well received (we have a five star rating on Yelp... sure it's only like 10 reviews, but lol, still!) but I seem to obsess about the failures. Unhappy customers make me lose sleep. It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does... it's awful. One of our regulars came in specifically for the bangers and mash special and we'd sold out by one pm. We made easily twice what we normally would have for a Friday special, but people have been waiting for us to showcase some of our fresh sausages and they came in droves. She came in, we were sold out and she was so upset! I hate that kind of thing, but I have to let it go and try not to fixate.  (also, note to self... make some frickin sausages for your retail customers... they want them!)

Stein was saying the other day, we can have someone come in a ton and then suddenly disappear. It can be because they are on a trial that ends, but it's hard not to wonder if we did something wrong. I want so much for people to be excited and happy about their experience.

We are also getting ready to reprice our menu. The price of brisket has gone up, in addition to just being a lot more realistic about costs now that we've been open for four months (YAY!). I've been doing the menu price costing so Stein and I can meet and chat about exactly how we want that to go, then I will have to change all the signage and menus and give fair warning to our customers of the changes.

I adore my regulars, funny food snobs for the most part (and as Alan says, "Good food, plus I like your tight jeans!"). I feel so at home there. I will be teaching a sausage making class soon at the shop for some of my regulars. They are small game hunters and want to make some Duck or Goose pepperoni (which sounds fabulous!).

I am also officially single, which is a little strange. It is so stressful to dissolve a 6 year relationship on top of opening a restaurant, but I think I am working through it all and I feel like I am getting to the other side. I go back and forth between being terrified and being euphoric. It feels right that Spring is coming. I went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday and my favorite small family farm had beautiful hand picked asparagus and so many treasures. I stood there smelling the produce and thinking that if Spring had a smell, it would be like produce fresh from the soil.