Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Lovely Week

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s hardest to cook for those you love most? It’s true in my case. John, the man that warms my heart and curls my toes, is a very, VERY picky eater. His favorite foods are those involving cheese, beef or bread - preferably all 3 together. Don’t even think about trying to give him eggs or tomatoes, or anything squishy, multi-textured or slimy.
I have to say that in the eight years we’ve been together, John’s palate has grown by leaps and bounds. And I like to think that I had something to do with that. He’s much more open to trying things, and has much more appreciation for food as more than just fuel. Go me!
When John is home, we eat out a lot. Since our time is short, we tend to look at his week home as one long date. (A sort of wonderful way to have a relationship, by the way!) It’s also easier to let a picky eater just choose off a menu then to try to cook up something that might not fly. We’d go for a few wonderful meals out, maybe order in, and I’d cook him one or two meals myself. But when you’re trying to be more conscious of the money you’re spending, that much eating out isn’t your best option. So this time, I tried something different. I planned a week’s worth of dinner menus for us, building in 2 nights that I wouldn’t be cooking. I made it fun by printing out actual little menus, which I presented to John before each meal. To the best of our ability, we stuck to the menu and had 5 nights of very enjoyable dinners. So for my next several posts, I’ll let you know what I made and how it went over with my picky audience. Shall we?

Monday, February 8, 2010

In the Dining Room

Yesterday I finished my second class at Johnson & Wales: Essentials of Dining Room. I learned so much from this class - enough to color every restaurant experience I have going forward. A sampling of the things I learned:

  • Always, always, always mark for the course before bringing the course. "Marking" means bringing the appropriate flatware. I was terrible at this at first. I'd have to say: "Ooh, let me get you a spoon for that soup!" I hate when this happens in a restaurant, and I will never forget to mark for the course again.
  • Speaking of soup, did you know that a thick soup is served in a bowl with a potage spoon? And a thin soup is served in a bowl with a bouillion spoon? Me either. But I do now.
Garde Manger Buffet
  • I learned that "garde manger" means "keeper of the cold food" and that I ADORE the garde manger buffet: pate, crudite, puff pastry with seafood, cold salads... I love it all.
  • I learned that chamomile is not a tea at all, but rather a tisane, an herbal infusion. I learned to taste tea with the 5 S's, just like you would a wine: see, sniff, swirl, savor, swallow or spit.
  • I learned the difference between viticulture and viniculture, what factors to use when desribing a wine, and how to present and open a bottle at the table. 
  • That you should always serve "open to the guest" on the right, with the right hand.
  • And that I really enjoy serving.
  • I know many more napkin folds than I ever thought I would. Above is the bishop's hat. I used this fold when I set the table at John's grandparents' house last week, for which I earned: "This is what you're learning in school?" Note to self: no napkin folds at home.
  • Finally, I confirmed the knowlege that going back to school at 31, when you know it's because you're passionate about what you're doing, is by far better than going to school at 18 because you're supposed to. Far better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Multiple Foodgasms

Last Saturday while John was in town, we met up with some of his friends and hit the venerable Nick's on Broadway. I had been to Nick's quite a while back for a delicious breakfast, before they moved. But I had yet to experience dinner there. I had no idea what I was in for.

Foodgasms after the jump...