Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Adventures with Shellfish and Bluegrass Tuesdays

Today marks my seventh day as a Brooklyn resident, which by my standards means I'm all in the family now. I had my first real day of training at the bakery yesterday but won't be going back in for round two until Friday. Though I'm sure that any working New Yorker would commit arson for three straight weekdays with absolutely nothing to do, my dwindling bank account presents a spicy setback. Today my plan was to find the perfect cafe, order one very large iced coffee, and write for as long as I possibly could. My laptop never made it open because I was distracted on Union and 7th by a pretty little storefront displaying cream and meringue topped cupcakes and bouquets of wild flowers in bright blue glass bottles. I noticed a "Now Hiring" sign, smelled some of the more unfamiliar looking cheeses, asked for a job, and got one. I'll be starting as counter-person at Blue Apron Foods on Friday at 3pm, exactly when I get off work at the Bakery. I need a glass of wine.

What a week! I now have two food service jobs, neither of which, even when combined, will provide me with the income apparently needed to live even the tail end of the New York high life. Being twenty-one is tough work.

More interestingly, I had enough time this week to get some serious cooking done. On Monday, still suited up after a three hour interview at a hoity-toity top-ten law firm (I'm not expecting a Yes from this job) I met my friend Zu in Chinatown for some speed seafood shopping. With only a half hour time slot, we didn't bother making absolute sure our scallops were chemical free, and trusted the fish monger when he said they were from Maine. When buying scallops you really have to be careful about phosphates (particularly sodium tripolyphosphate) which help the scallop retain water and appear much larger and tastier then it actually is. Our scallops had a much nastier problem...even after gently searing them in butter and dousing them with a healthy helping of lemon juice, they tasted like lemony-buttery-ajax. Yuck.

Zu, Kyra and I agreed the soft-shell crabs were much more successful. It was my very first time preparing soft-shells and was sad that no one was there to witness my triumphant conquests over their wriggling little exoskeletons. I'll admit, I was surprisingly more timid than I expected myself to be when cutting their faces off. I had a particularly hard time with putting the now face-less, still moving crabs in the same bowl as their more put-together comrades. When their decapitated bodies finally stopped spasming, I soaked them in milk, dredged them, and fried them in a generous pot of clarified butter. Though they could have used some cayenne pepper in the flour mixture, I would say they were great! I served them with a rock shrimp risotto with leeks and white corn and Kyra and Zu supplied two bottles of sweet and fruity Riesling and Prosecco. Mmm.


Me and my Bestie frying crabs in butter.

My stomach was still sore from the three sticks of butter split three ways that went into our Monday night meal when I woke up late for my first day at the bakery. After sprinting nine blocks and arriving drenched in sweat and last night's make-up, the rest of the day was smooth sailing. I rolled out sucree for lemon meringue or salted caramel tarts, made chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, ice cream, lemon curd, quiche, and put a whole lot of crusts in flat-bottomed pans. My coworkers were fun and just sarcastic enough and absolutely everything tasted good. It's no hippy co-op, but Patisserie Colson might not be so bad.

The best part of working at a bakery is bringing home leftovers. I stopped at Barbes on 6th and 9th after work and met up with Polly and Kim for some live blue-grass and beers. The Five-Deadly Venoms played some of my favorite Carter Family classics and kept our toes-tapping. We met some of Polly and Kim's college pals there and moved the party back to our place shortly after. New York is a lot easier when you're surrounded by incredible, giving people who have boat loads of interesting and creative friends! Our night came to a close with Port, fresh-made cappuccino gelato (from my bakery!), and a riotous session of looking at pictures of adorable puppies in mini-casts, complements of Perfect.

Also, don't fear. I made a promise to myself to start writing more often and avoid these long, summary-style entries. They bore me.



Edward said...

Mmmm.... sodium tripolyphosphate!! From the Wikipedia:

"Many people find STPP to add an unpleasant taste to food, particularly delicate seafood. The taste tends to be slightly sharp and soapy and is particularly detectable in mild-tasting foods."


So when are we heading back to chinatown for lobsters??

Jack Morgan said...

Oh Jeez! The part about cutting their faces off is hilarious, especially when you had to look at crippled puppies in order to make yourself feel better.

Vegetarians taste better, you know.
Even poor ones like me :)

Even though you're a brutal killer who gets her kicks by looking at unfortunate puppy-dogs, I still love you. There's something wrong with me, obviously. But even if you cut my face off, I would still love you.

But could you love me without my beautiful face?