#foodasasecondlanguage

I live two blocks away from a small Supermercado. Aside from everything shown costing less than $20, I love meeting the employees from all over Mexico and Central America. They’re always eager to offer cooking tips and recipes, and seem genuinely interested in what I’m making. Aside from learning the secrets of proper Texas BBQ and Breakfast Tacos in my time here, I’ve learned how to communicate with a group of people through food, and now a little bit of Spanish #foodasasecondlanguage

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Bourbon Berry Derby Cups

Bourbon Berry Derby Cups are an unassuming treasure at a Derby Party.

Phyllo Cups

Blackberry/ Raspberries

Mint

Heavy Cream or some store bought prewhipped

Bourbon

Instructions Below

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In a medium saucepan, add an equal amount of Blackberries and Raspberries into the pan. Lightly coat the tops of the Berries with regular sugar, Twice.

Stir the fruit gently, cook low until the fruit becomes macerated in its own perfectly sugared juices, then add Bourbon. A lot or a little depending whether you’d like it to cook out or give your cups a pleasant kick. I prefer the kick.

Finely dice up your mint leaves and either whip them into your store bought cream, or make your own. I use close to 3 Tbsp of Icing Sugar per Cup of Heavy Cream, but 2 would probably be sweet enough depending on how much sugar you decided to throw on those berries. Less is more sometimes.

Cool the berries down in the fridge until they are no longer hot. If they go in hot they’ll make the phyllo cups look like shit.

Any questions feel free to leave in the comment section

 

 

 

 

 

Chefs say awful things

Going from the front of the house to the back took adjusting. In the front, a series of wordplay, empathy, paired with a smile will typically defuse any confrontation. The kitchen is not like that. Unless you have a perfectly timed, “Joe Pesci” like response, forcing your chef to laugh, chances are you are going to hear some painful words. These words are sometimes followed by a display. Perhaps a loaf of bread being thrown against the wall,  a timely visit to the walk-in where you hear new and original swear words, or maybe even a nice scorning in front of those servers watching on the other side of the pass. It gets real, and all for the sake of perfection.

One does not develop a sense of urgency, or a commitment to their guests, being issued a pass all the time. My mistakes are ingrained in my head forever, no doubt because I had teachers who cared enough to hurt my feelings.  It is why I take pride in everything I serve a guest. Whether I’m at work, the house, or a get together, its important to me that I serve something I would serve my Chefs . That all came, from hearing some pretty awful shit.

On the flip side, it’s still fun. You’re learning to cook, eating well, bringing enjoyment to people, and encountering the most bizarre case scenarios and stories you’ve ever heard. All in a relative “safe-space” from HR. For instance, the other day, Herbert was jealous that I brought Gustavo a Big Red soda. He turned, put his hand to his mouth, and in a suggestive motion, inquired if we had been having oral sex before work, to which I replied that, “he couldn’t afford it”.  After a giggle, I made Herbert a flaccid rocketship ladyfinger with strawberry rhubarb and white chocolate mousse.

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And no one’s feelings got hurt

St. Croix…The Galleon & Banks Lager

It was the best meal of my life. I sat at the bar through an entire service, including pre shift, at the Galleon Restaurant @ Green Cay Marina, St. Croix USVI. Periodically walking down to the docks to take in the taste of the Caribbean air, and listen to the cheers of locals and visitors gambling with hermit crabs across the way.

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Photo by Kelbe Photography

 

Getting to my destination wasn’t the easiest task. I had spent the morning skipping stones and drinking Banks Lager on Shoys Beach. Working up and appetite as my pale Irish skin battled the Caribbean sun. There ended up being no better cure than fresh aloe, coconut water, and the meal I was about to have.

 

 

My first course was an unpretentious ensemble of cheeses accessible to most restaurants on the Island, but to this day the way I serve my goat cheese to guests. Rolled in fresh parsley, lemon zest, and black pepper. With the course down and my beer buzz subsiding, it was time I moved on to the chicken liver pate and Lodi Cabernet.

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A Chèvre, Blue, Cream, and a Firm

This Pate is what dreams are made of. Creamy and Rich, served with brandied cherries and toasted house made Brioche. The blend a salt, fat, cream, sweetness, and texture made this classic dish an experience that lasted over an hour. 1060553_682721678337_1189039515_n

Then came the time to order dinner, and I did something most people shouldn’t ever take liberties on, but do anyway. I asked the bartender Sarah-Jean to make it a Chefs whim. He must have thought I was such a cocky asshole for doing that but he ended up, to the owner Lesley’s surprise, making me a Steak which altered the path of my life. A perfectly prepared New York Strip with a Foie Gras and Oyster Jus.

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Strip w/ Fois Gras and Oyster Jus

After finishing my meal, I didn’t say anything to Chef about the meal until he asked, to which I replied, “Are you fucking kidding me?”. I moved to St. Croix 5 months later to apprentice. Thank you Chef.

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Chef Kenneth Biggs

The Art of Simplicity… Beer, Bread, Brisket

7 Months ago I had my first experience with Texas, BBQ. My friend Peer had moved from San Diego to Austin a few months prior to my arrival and began a search for the perfect Brisket. I quickly adopted the challenge as my own and developed a system which for me, was the ideal setup  for tasting ” Simplicity at its Finest”.

Some go for spicy, some tangy, some over salted, some over cooked. Some with coffee, some with who the fuck knows, but they at least go into it with a goal in mind. To make love to a very inexpensive cut of meat until it’s beautiful.

So far Franklin’s has been my favorite due to overall texture, the coffee in the rub, customer service, and the Sensationally Intense Molassesy Complexity of their sauce.

Always order the Mix (Lean and Fatty)

 

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Black’s
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Schmidt’s
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Stubb’s
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Salt Lick’s
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Franklin’s
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Franklin’s

 

Poached Eggs go with Everything

 

Last year in Charleston, SC:  As a Pastry/Breakfast Cook for Circa 1886 and the Wentworth Mansion, I was responsible for coming up with fresh specials every weekend for service. The omelette was always a great go to, waffles an easy item to whip together, but poached eggs, bread, and sauce make the world go round.

The first is a Carolina Grit Cake w/ Jalapeno Hollondaise, Crab & Cornichon with Bearnaise, Smoked Salmon with Chive Labneh Sauce, and Biscuits & Gravy with Fried Shrimp (St. Croix).

Enjoy your Sunday Brunch!

 

 

 

Where it Began…Lyon Hall & Apple Pie

A little over 5 years ago in Arlington, VA: Though I had worked in Restaurants Prior to Lyon Hall, I hadn’t yet worked in Hospitality. Mark, Andrew, Andy, and David made Lyon Hall what it is today by creating a culture of Education. An Educational Institute if I may.

Daily shift meetings with open Dialogue, Tastings, Quizzes, and Solution Based discussion of our Guest and Employee needs. Our Friends and Family were welcomed with open arms and gifts from the house, and our minds were left to wander off and be creative from our discussions of a very ambitious European menu.

So my first attempt at touching lives with food, but mostly our female staff shaawing was to bring in Fried Chicken with Apple Pie. It was then when I realized how much I enjoyed making someone drop an OMG off something I made. They also taught me how to mix a pretty fucking great Cocktail and how to dress like a Gentleman. Forever Grateful.