Book Meme

Number of books I own: Wendy estimates that we own over 400 books, appoximately 1/2 of which are cookbooks or kitchen related.
Last book bought: THE SEASONING OF A CHEF
Last book read: Just finished HEAT by Bill Buford
Five books that mean a lot to me: CULINARY ARTISTRY by Andrew Dorenberg and Karen Page, KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain, THE LORD OF THE RINGS series by J.R.R. Tolkein, HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING by Mark Bittman, and LITTLE, BIG by John Crowley.

CULINARY: My something-th night at Pigall’s



It’s official. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve worked at Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, but I was there again today, working prep only (arriving at 1:00pm and staying till about 5:30pm). While there, I topped-and-tailed snow peas, sliced shallots, helped with the preparation of the amuse bouche (a ring salad with fennel slaw on the bottom and fish salad on top), prepared seafood ratatoui (with lots of shrimp, scallops, and lobster mixed in with the vegetables) that will eventually be stuffed into zucchini blossoms. I also sliced, seasoned, and baked off toast for the bread service and made a few polenta-stuffed zucchini cakes for Rob. As usual, I worked anywhere I was useful!

I must have been holding my trusty knife incorrectly because I ended up with a nasty blister on my right index finger. I ate a bit of family meal — noodles with boiled chicken, corn, onion, and peas.

I wish I could have stayed through service and beyond tonight not only because I enoy being there, but because it’s Flo’s last night. Flo is a nice young man who is starting culinary school on Tuesday, and has (wisely) chosen to make school his full-time job. I enjoyed working with Flo. He’s a hard worker and well-liked in the kitchen at Pigall’s, so I would imagine his send-off after service will be quite …messy… and fun (well, fun for the rest of the gang; maybe not so much for Flo!). Best of luck with culinary school, Flo!

Reflecting a bit on Flo’s transition, I was there before he arrived and have been there during his entire employment at Pigall’s. It’s interesting to think that I’m becoming an ‘old-timer’ at the restaurant!

MEXICO 2006: Day 1, Sunday September 3, 2006

We arose at the ungodly hour of 3:30am to get into the car and go to the airport. The only thing that could rouse us is the promise that, in a few short hours, we’d be in sunny Mexico, on the Mayan Riviera, sipping frosty Banana Republics out of large glasses at the Barcelo.

We made it to the airport with no problem — it is always amazing to see the amount of traffic on the streets at that hour — after stopping by McDonald’s for a breakfast of McGriddles (God smiled the day McGriddles were invented).

Our plane was on time and full. The young man in the seat next to Drew smelled like he hadn’t been home all night, and his actions (getting up to puke three times before we even took off) confirmed the suspicion.

The carrier, USA3000, is quite impressive. They provide a juice service, a full breakfast (a sausage-egg-and-cheese muffin with a fruit cup), beverage service, delicious snack cakes near the end of the flight, and free headsets for the in-flight movie (HOUSE OF D on the way there and HOOT on the way home). The fact that our headset jacks didn’t work did little to dampen our impression of the airline. We rested as much as the puking row-mate would permit until the plane landed.

At the baggage claim, we met Buddy & Jenny when Buddy asked if Drew worked at Keebler (Drew was wearing a thrift-store Keebler shirt) and we struck up a conversation. Customs was a breeze and we were on the bus in no time. After a long wait, during which we met Dawn & Jon and ran into Jenny & Buddy, our bus took off for our resort. An uneventful 90 minutes later, the bus arrived at the Barcelo and we stepped off into the tropical beauty of the place. There are loads of photos in our gallery of the resort and grounds from our previous trip to Mexico.

Edgar, our excellent guide all week.Our room wasn’t going to be ready until 3:00, so we accepted our wristbands (which identify us as guests of the resort) and wandered around the resort. We had lunch in the buffet and took a walk around, finally ending up at the dive shop where we were happily surprised to see Edgar, who had been our dive guide when we were there two years ago. He was preparing to go on vacation (to answer the question I’m sure you’re asking — “Where do people who work in paradise go for vacation?” — the answer is Scotland), so we didn’t get to dive with him this time.

P2010184.JPGWe finally got our room, room 5388, around 3:00 — the third floor of Sayil, which is the best building to be in if you’re a diver because it’s the closest to the dive shop in the ‘low rent’ district (the old section of the resort), so it’s inexpensive and convenient. I think even more ideal might be something in the 5120-30 range, but 5388 is still good — it’s at the far end away from the beach and walking the length of the building time & again each day gets tiring. We learned that the resort was only 4% occupied this week (a nice surprise for us since we really like low season without the crowds), and in fact one of the new buildings was completely closed down and without any occupants — the lights were off and everything — so we wondered why it took so long to get our room ready. Ah well. Once we got in, we found the room to be cold and comfortable, just like usual. We called down for a mattress topper (the resort will throw a 2-inch foam pad on their rock hard mattress if you ask) and set to getting settled in.

P2010204.JPGAfter unpacking and getting organized, we headed back to the dive shop to plan our dives. We planned to do a total of four dives in two days — not a lot of diving, but we had something else in mind, too… We watched a Whale Shark video and, in a staggering display of spontaneity, Wendy & I decided to sign up to snorkel on Tuesday with Whale Sharks. We then headed to the newly-reconstructed pier (it was a rickety wooden thing before and is now a concrete beauty) for a bit of swimming, then to the lobby bar where I had my first-and-last michelada, an awful combination of beer, lime juice, worchestershire sauce, and salt & pepper. If you think it sounds bad, it tasted even worse than it sounds. Truly nasty.

We had dinner at the Italian-themed buffet with Buddy & Jenny, then hit the sack by 9:30.