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Hurricane Florence Snacks: Molly's Yeh's Marzipan Mandel Bread

September is a beautiful month. The roads at home have stepped up their game, all spangled with bright gold Jerusalem artichoke flowers and purple asters. The fields are heavy with rustling crops, wide swathes cut into the landscape daily by dusty tractors. There's a feeling of anticipation in the air, of hurry - even though the afternoons are still so heavy with sun that it's hard to keep your eyes open if you sit down for longer than a moment or two. Anticipation whispers behind all the false sleepiness of September because apart from those beautiful back-roads and patchwork fields and bountiful produce and mornings that begin to hint at cool weather to come, September brings hurricane season.

Homemade Fig Newtons

Work at the restaurant is going well these days. "Well," if you count all the times I basically neglected to place orders for things I desperately needed and ran out mid-service and had to go all over the place chasing my tail, and ruined three batches of beer caramel, and had biscuit crises, and generally took some gravel in a big learning curve. I've gained some small bit of notoriety in the kitchen. Most of it (all of it) is centered around the fact that because we don't have a combi oven yet, the biscuits turn out differently ever. single. day despite my best efforts. Well, the biscuits...and the fact that chef has never met anyone else in twenty years of cooking who uses her long, kitchen tweezers to instantly become taller and more able to reach things. Matt, our long-suffering and talented bartender, has put considerable effort into making mocktails for me on the nights when we're allowed a shift-drink. Since hiring a sweet polar bear of a high-school boy to wash dishes on the weekend, I've gained a non-drinking buddy and we laughingly down our fake margaritas together and cheers to Matt who is the best sport ever about it. Chef has allowed me some small opinion/choice in pastry innovation too, allowing me to suggest improvements or substitutions, menu item ideas, and assignments to choose new recipes. Even though fig season is almost over, I'm hugely of the opinion that we need a fig and olive oil cake dessert on our menu, pronto. Something like last autumn's fresh fig and olive oil cake? *heart eyes*

Over the years I've come to discover that figs - particularly dried ones - are a surprisingly polarizing subject. Somewhere along the way, dried figs unfairly got sidelined with prunes as boring food that only old people eat and our culture hasn't really recovered yet. People react in such odd ways when you ask if they like fig bars. It's almost as if some adult sat down at a board meeting with a can of baby puffs and started snacking on them. It's low-key socially unacceptable to like Fig Newtons and that is why anytime I'm left to decide on the snacks for a movie night, I bring a package (among other things) - nobody else will touch them and there will be fig bars for days for me and my small crew of fellow fig-lovers.

I just don't understand how you could hate something as inoffensive as a dried fig.

Okay, okay, so at some point The Huffington Post did write an article about fig wasps and the fact that in almost every single fig we eat, there is some form of mummified wasp contained within its sphere. But people eat insects all the time - my chef claims grasshoppers are delicious - and are you really going to be any worse off consuming the dead remains of a Wasp of Yesteryear when you snack on dried figs than you are accidentally inhaling a spider while you sleep? No. The answer is "no" because spiders are of the devil and I'd rather eat some dusty wasp crumbs any day before I'd knowingly eat an arachnid.

Crocs Are The Cockroaches Of The Footwear World: A Researched Opinion

A stock photo is as classy as I'm willing to get over the topic of Crocs

After a mere three weeks of wearing them at the restaurant, my Crocs have died a senseless death. Sounds impossible, right? Aren't Crocs the cockroaches of the footwear world? Throw a nuclear missile at a Payless and you know what would still be hanging on for dear life to it's BOGO tag once the mushroom cloud dispersed? Crocs.
Nevertheless, self-destruct they did. I am now the happy (if somewhat pained-in-the-wallet) owner of a pair of kitchen Birkenstocks winging their way toward me via the Amazonius Primus summoning spell. I hope they'll serve me better than those regrettable rubber husks that I wore for three weeks. I hate to sound like an elitist but...as far as I'm concerned, Crocs can go extinct.

8 Things I Definitely Didn't Know About Restaurants

Hi, people! It's me! I'm alive! I know how to make pasta now! I wasn't side-eyed to death by a score of men in white uniforms my first week on the job. We haven't officially opened yet but let me tell you, this world is a new one. I have learned so incredibly much...because here's the thing: basically all of my skill and time spent cooking up till now seems a little, well, useless. I know it's not actually useless in the long run - I've got some great intuition and head-knowledge built up from years spent in the presence of cooking. But the way things are done among the pros renders the homemade way I've done it forever just wrong enough to knock me off my game and leave me feeling like a newbie. Thankfully, the people I'm working with are great teachers. They're patient. They're kind. They cuss cheerfully and swipe the third tray of macarons that hasn't baked properly into the compost and tell me it's the fault of the terrible oven, not me, and that it's getting replaced next week. I think what has stumped me most of all is less about the food we're making and more about the totally different equipment, terms, quantities and methods we're using. I wish I'd read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential before I started work here. I feel like I would've been much better prepared for the details of work in a professional kitchen. But hey - I didn't have any idea that I was going to soon be working in a fine dining restaurant, did I? This week has shown me that for those who want to learn, there is always opportunity. I do want to learn. And I have. And I will. And that's what makes me so excited for this job and this place.

Save The Hundred-Dollar Caviar

The first thing I want to say about my new job is, I don't have to wear ugly chef pants. I found that out and am going to happily return those ugly-butt things I bought and invest in a couple more pairs of normal black pants. Or because (for all my bank account knows) I've already spent the money: throw it into my Travel To Ireland fund. I think I'll do that.

As of writing this blog post, our team at the restaurant has done almost everything except cook together. Because it's a new construction/renovation project, there are inspections to be finished before we can start cooking in the kitchen. I'm studying our menu, googling all the things I don't know, and hoping nobody laughs me out of the kitchen because of my laymen's chopping skills. In my head I'm imagining the onion scene in Julie & Julia: hesitant slicing and a row of accomplished cooks waiting for me to catch up.