Saturday, February 9, 2008

ChefX returns

He's back, at least for the next two weeks while Lupe is out on vacation. Something about ChefX's presence changes everything at RestoX. I was in good spirits and feeling pretty jolly to have him watching over everything in the kitchen, even my mistakes. Today was was cut short, from 10:30-2:00, to attend my nephew's 3rd birthday party, but it was a pretty productive day and I had some fun. And no cuts or burns this time. That's always a good thing.

Breakfast of champions
2-egg scramble and a perfect (can't be modest with this one) arugula salad with shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts, asian pear and a light red wine vinaigrette. The flavor combination hit the spot.

Task: Julienne quart of ginger
Notes: I described how to do this the RestoX way in the 1,000 leaves post. It was made all the easier and pleasurable with my new super-knife. It's just slices so elegantly.

Task: Grate a chunk of horseradish the size of your wrist
Notes: Horseradish looks like a tree bark. You just peel then grate on a microplane, but it takes a little muscle power. They grate very fine and fluffy, like new-fallen snow. The key is to cover it with a little rice wine, just enough to create a pasty texture, as soon as it's grated since they tend to turn color quickly.

Task: Chop dates
Notes: There's a methodical way to approach this task as well. Slice date in half, remove pit, stack two halves on top of one another with cut side down, slice lengthwise into 4 pieces, then across into six pieces. Dates are yummy and I was happy to have cut a few pieces too small so I could dispose of them in my mouth.

Task: Roll out squid ink pasta
Notes: The monster pasta machine is still broken, so we had to use Adam's machine. His has just the kneading function so I had to cut the pasta with a knife. Koreans have a broth-y noodle dish called "knife noodles" wherein all the noodles are cut with a knife. The noodle texture takes on an irregular and rustic quality - very al dente. But I digress.

For the squid ink pasta, roll out the dough to the number 6 setting. You must work briskly or the dough will dry out and become crumbly and useless, as I learned form the first batch. Pasta-making takes practice!
When dough is smooth and satiny with a nice sheen, cut the pieces with a knife into pappardelle shapes. I find working with squid ink pasta really pleasurable, and cutting pasta with a knife brings the process to a whole other level of "hand made."

Task: Go down the block to the butchers and ask for 4 spicy chorizos
Notes: I just love running errands at RestoX. It makes me feel like the entire neighborhood is my home.

Task: Slice 2 spicy chorizos
Notes: These are sliced on a diagonal, into 2-3 inch slices. This leaves a lot of extra corners that must not go to waste, but be eaten by a hungry apprentice.

Task: Slice beet rounds into 1/8" thick rounds
Notes: The beets were marinated in olive oil with some herbs (forgot to ask which). They were so sweet they tasted like they were marinated in sugar.

Task: Pick parsley for pasta
Notes: Bo-ring.

That's all folks. I wish these reports could be more exciting, but I'm discovering this is a typical day in a professional kitchen, doing mostly mundane and often tedious tasks. It helps to appreciate the food - the sights, the smells, the touch of well-marinated beets or a perfectly-rolled pasta dough. I did encounter a very raw and very dead lamb in the walk-in this morning with its legs, head, and eyeballs still intact. Later on, it felt like a scene from a horror film as I witnessed ChefX hacking away at it with a giant cleaver. Hey, it's good to have him back.