Summer Grind and Mellon Rinds

I’m so tired.

And happy.

But really tired.

And really happy.

Ever since I can recall I’ve been a nose to the grind stone kind of guy. I’m always happiest whilst toiling away on some project or another in the kitchen, knocking out prep list item after item. Looking up and pondering where the sun went while I wasn’t looking or exclaiming my surprise to my worn out cohorts that I can’t believe it’s NO WAY o’clock. It’s been a while since I’ve done 6 events in three days and I definitely gave my shoes a run for their money with all the running around. That familiar ache that one gets after standing for 24 of 48 hours in the lower calf and Achilles’ heel. I can find few greater joys than reestablishing the calluses on the pads of my hands or the light twinge one feels holding the tools of your trade all day. Makes that beer at the end of the shift extra tasty as well as earned. (Calorie wise any how)

Granted, most of the work was comprised of Party Platters. Those ingenious orders comprised almost solely of trays of food. No servers. No buffet clouding. No chaffing dishes. No onsite work other than setting it up, wishing the client good luck, and getting the hell out of there in a timely fashion. To me, it is the greatest exhibition of a Chef’s food when it’s the star of the show and there’s no pomp and circumstance to cloud the vision of your dish. Décor and ambiance are nice and all, and definitely have their place in more sophisticated events. But if it’s grandpa’s 76th, or junior graduated from high school why waste the money when all you really want is a quick and high quality meal with out slaving the day away in your dinky kitchen when there’s a perfectly willing and able professional out there just waiting to make your event really pop.

I’ve tried doing the same thing at home I do at work and it’s always messier, more expensive, and time intensive than in a professional setting. And I do this kind of thing for a living! And it’s not like I’m trying to sell anybody on this catering thing, it generally does that for its self, (With the ample marketing and not-so-subtle nudges in the right direction.) any money you save doing it yourself is lost on labor and clean up. And WE bring it right to your table, not even Dominos can make that claim. Though depending on your delivery driver I could understand wanting to keep them on the porch.

At any rate, the wedding last weekend was phenomenal, and I don’t use that word lightly. The menu was excellently balanced and left no hole unfilled. (That one’s for you Caroline, like back in the day.) The appetizers were simple, clean, and authentically tasty. The well used and always appreciated Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms complete with fresh thyme, oregano, and parsley combined with the sweet and salty pork really complimented the chewy earth flavor of the fungus. I don’t normally care for stuffed mushrooms but I felt no qualms at all that they didn’t go through all we made. Myself and Nick demolished those things and left no survivors. The other baguette laden app was our blushing pear bruschetta. A tropical treat consisting of freshly roasted macadamia nuts, merlot blanched pear reduced down so dark you’d swear you’re eating an odd textured plum, and a brie spread that leaves nothing to the imagination as to what it is.

 My only gripe there was the baguette it’s self, my usually supply bit the dust when it got wet in the walk-in. The condenser that drips water into the catch pan that drains outside the building got backed up and made some rather unique but culinarily useless science experiments. So settling for the local items a hop, skip, and jump away from the shop were both expensive and lower quality. But needs be as the devil drives and we made it work. The trick turned out to be that we pre-made the items and let the moisture from the brie spread soak into the baguette. The mouth feel was a little off but it was passable and I heard not a complaint so I must be doing something right?

The buffet it’s self is where things really get interesting. You see, on one side of the wedding party or another there was some islander blood and it shown through in their food choices. So off the beaten path of traditional Franco-American cuisine we trekked into the dark depths of quasi-tropical eats. The first item was a torte I’d never made before consisting of grilled run soaked pineapple, macadamia nuts, and perfectly toasted coconut. I had folks poking their head in all afternoon when I was handling that coconut. I swear, I should get a stipend from all the local eateries for making the residents above me in my building hungry all the time! Next came the Moroccan Fruit and Nut salad, comprised of more macadamia nuts (I love them things!), blood oranges, mint, cinnamon, spring mix (which has finally reached its seasonal peak), and sliced candied dates. I used blood orange concentrate to make vinaigrette that really sang. Not too sweet or too tangy, nor cloying like some of the citrus vinaigrettes can get at times. I also liked the mint in there, kinda threw the pallet for a loop with all the other flavors.

Another buffet oddity was our Pomegranate Chicken, something I’ve only made once before and apparently not correctly the first time around. The walnut flour coated chicken tenders were golden brown grilled and then glazed in a pomegranate white balsamic reduction. It was sweet, and early, and very very nice on top of the next dish, which was Lemon Grass Coconut Risotto. I haven’t made that stuff since culinary school back in ‘0 bloody 4! But like a duck to water I started that lemon grass coconut infusion hours ahead of time, which turned out to be a good thing. Because with all the other events going on that week I had left this one last, as it was in house at Suite 100, and it was my event. I was literally pulling the risotto out of the oven to place into a chaffing dish pan to go out on the buffet. We’re talking seconds from done to on the run here folks.

But all in all it was a pleasant event. There was bread, and a veggie platter to round out the menu for those less adventurous in their culinary exploits. As well as a live action crepe station, complete with three fillings and sauces instead of wedding cake. Very original, and more welcoming than another generic slice of butter cream laden white sheet cake. (You’d figure a group that goes to school as long as the Foodies do would have come up with some more main stream originality?)

Now to enjoy that faux-hito in the sun on my deck.

Kitchen’s closed.



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