Things at the Club are settling in. The new menu starts Tuesday, but it's the end of the month, which means we'll get crushed. Plus lots of parties. I am now much more focused on the politics of the place, and it seems I stepped unknowingly into a real shit storm of sorts. But Laura has filled me in on the particulars of this little situation, so I'm hip to his jive now.
I had a debut of sorts on Friday night, the annual Dinner Dance. The GM wanted me to do the specials. I sort of threw some stuff out there off the top of my head. There were two conditions; I had to use some veal tenderloin and some Chilean sea bass. For the veal, I did grilled medallions with an oyster mushroom and port wine demi-glace, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. Nice, simple and to the point; something I thought these older members could identify with. I went into service with 8 orders of that. For the sea bass, it was spiced, pan seared sea bass topped with sauteed shrimp and served over low country creamy grits with a saffron-herb broth. I had 17 of those.
We sold every last special, plus 6 extra sea bass preparations done with tilapia. The GM was very happy. My Nemesis was not. The GM decided that this would be a wonderful time to show me off to the members and took me out, introducing me as the Club's new chef. There's only one problem. I'm not the Club's new chef. Laura is. The GM has this problem with titles, and has no earthly notion of what kitchen titles mean. She refers to Laura as a kitchen manager and me as Chef. Laura is the Chef, and I'm the...Hell. I'm not quite sure what I am, at this point. The GM seems to be hung up on the fact that Laura didn't go to culinary school, and is not deserving of the term "chef." The Nemesis seems to have put this into the GM's head. So, it seems I'm the Chef, because I went to culinary school. Except for the fact that I did not go to culinary school. Somehow, despite there being nothing on my resume about culinary school, the GM has decided that I went to culinary school. Anyway, this is an interesting snake nest I've landed myself into.
Laura has been all class about this whole thing, and has really been guiding me through the minefield, putting up with my vile temper where suffering no fools is concerned. With our menu up and running, I think we'll both feel more secure and on our feet moving into the fall slam-o-rama.
As with many in European history who expounded harsh truths, she was vilified and put on trial. Her book, The Rage and The Pride,
helped focus my views on what is happening in the world today. Fallaci
got it. She understood that we are locked in an existential struggle of
civilization and enlightenment against barbarity and darkness. She did
not mince words. She called a spade a shovel, then picked up that
shovel to beat it over the heads of the ignorant morons who rule
The Rage and The Pride, and it's follow-up, The Force of Reason, should be required reading for anyone who doubts what we in the West face.
For Europe, I believe it's too late. They've submitted. The rest of us, however, can benefit from Fallici's clarity and vision.
It's the still images that haunt me. Those of people falling, frozen in descent, transfigured by the howling winds of gravity. They are set against a background, not of sky or earth, but of vertical parallel lines suspended in between, stark shades of gray sharply set by a crystal September morning.
On this day, I pause and reflect. I will cry, because it is right to feel sorrow at such loss, such incredible loss. Our tears reflect the light of lost hopes, dreams and aspirations. Our tears reflect the light of memory.
On this day, I feel an all-consuming anger that will not diminish with time, because I know that there is no closure to be sought, nor justice to be had for such an act of evil. No memorial can absorb the rage I still feel, that I will always feel.
On this day, I remember, as I always do, that there are those at war with me, who wish me dead, who would visit destruction on all I hold dear, who would destroy all those I love, because I don't believe in what they believe. At this point in time, my memories are what I have to offer in this fight. My memories are my strength and they are my awareness.
On this day, I remember, because I cannot - I will not - forget the falling people.
The Lady is quite simply the most wonderful creature I know of. Over the years, she's managed to make my birthday a very nice occasion, greasing the skids into the next year of my life with verve and style. This year was no exception. Being in Savannah on August 30th made it wonderful.
This year I got a new Shun santoku, a deluxe edition DVD of Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll, and an amazingly beautiful new ring made by Rob Piland; a silver Olivia with a dazzling blue topaz. I've been wearing it nonstop.
We walked the dogs, showered and headed off for lunch at Angel's BBQ. Time to try the pork.
Folks, Andrew Trice is an effin' smokin' genius. Pulled pork to die for. Heavy smoke. Oh, so tender and juicy. The taste of the pork shone through the smoke. Huge sandwich. The Lady and I were moaning in pleasure. Angel's really does represent a harmonic convergence of pig, rub and smoke. As if I don't have enough reasons to visit Savannah. Now I have yet another. Damn fine BBQ.
Sapphire Grill is in an unlikely location, and an unenviable one. It is situated next door to The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's monster of a restaurant that has become legend due to her Food Network fame. People line up around the block for hours in the most ungodly heat imaginable to eat at a buffet of traditional Southern home cooking. We met Paula back in the day when TLaS was situated in a smaller location further on down Congress Street, in the location now occupied by Mollie McPherson's, an outstanding Scottish pub with the best selection of single malts I've seen in years.
Anyway. Sapphire Grill is next door to TLaS. We sort of had to nudge our way past the crowd to enter a cozy nook of a restaurant; dark and cool.
I don't think I've ever had a sub par cocktail in Savannah. Savannah is all about the cocktail, and Sapphire was no exception. Knob Creek Manhattan for me and a Bombay Sapphire (of course!) G&T for The Lady.
The Lady started with Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with a Tart Lemon Broth, Golden Pepper Cream and Black Cumin Sweet Onion Salad. I started with Smoked Wild Halibut over Prosciutto-Chive Brioche, Arugula, Caviar, Quail Egg and Heirloom Tomato.
Sapphire's menu is in two parts. A "regular" menu and a "build it yourself" menu, where you are presented with various components that you can use to create your own dish. The Lady went this route by coming up with Diver Scallops with Black Truffle Butter, Creamed Carolina Gold Rice and Grilled Asparagus. She had a glass of Saint M Riesling '03 to go with it.
I went with Grilled Veal Loin over a Lobster Mushroom Crouton with "melted" Currant Tomatoes, Lobster Mushroom Veal Jus and Micro Basil. With that, I had to go with a glass of 7 Deadly Zins '04. Yum.
The Lady finished with a Strawberry Shortcake on a cinnamon biscuit. Wonderful simplicity.
I went the chocolate route. Flourless Chocolate Torte with a layer of ganache to make it even more evil than it was. The freshest, most intense raspberry coulis I've ever encountered.
We finished and walked back along Congress Street and up to Broughton Street. The evening had cooled off considerably. We drove back to the house, indulged in an after dinner drink and a nice Padron Aniversario cigar on the back porch, amidst the bats and Spanish moss.
Jeebers. It's been awhile since I posted anything substantial. That's what happens when you start a new job. And what a job.
I'm loving the nice, big kitchen. I've got 16 burners, an IR grill, a fryer, 2 convections and 2 conventionals. Laura is wonderful to work with, but we're both facing some enormous challenges; namely a group of people stuck on stupid who think Chicken Oscar is the way to go at lunch. With fruit, no less. The hours are weird and long. It's a split shift most days, although I'm blessed with this evening off, which is why I'm writing at the moment.
Designing a new menu is going to be rough. We're getting a bunch of pressure to produce one yesterday, but that's not really the way to go. The members are scrambling to get crap like Oyster Stew and French Onion Soup (If you put provolone on FOS, is it still French? Just asking...) on the menu. And that leads to the mantra of "Well, that's what the members want." Yet, practically in the same breath, I'm hearing all this stuff about, "Well, we gotta do something about the brunch buffet. The members are used to it a certain way, but it's too expensive to do it, so the members are just going to have to deal with it." Huh? Make up your minds, people. Either the members call the shots or they don't. Can't be both. So don't try to pull that's what the members want scam unless it's consistent policy. Grr.
The current menu is an abortion. These folks are all about kickin' it old school. Filet Mignon ala Charon, fer god's sake. I've got to get a grip here and not go into a panic of second guessing myself for taking this job. I'm sure I'll be more amenable to being a kitchen whore when I get the first paycheck.
Right now, I'm just sort of ranting.
I'm going to enjoy the evening off. I stopped at Feast for panini makings and Jomo. Ended up with some fantabulous Iberico chorizo made from acorn fed Spanish hogs that is out of this world and a garlic salumi from Berkeley, California that is to die for.
The Lady just got home and made me a drink. She also stopped off and got me the new Bob Dylan album as well as Michael Franti's new CD. That's The Lady for you. She even got me the special edition of the Bob. Very cool.
I need to catch everyone up on the Savannah stuff, and I'll do that over the next few days. Promise.
So, somewhere in South Carolina, I started doing impressions of William Shatner doing The Dead Milkmen's Bitchin' Camaro and reading off the roadsigns ala Laurie Anderson; any sign would do. Just reading them as poetry in Laurie's quirky meter.
That's just the way I roll on I-95, as they say. Kept an average speed of around 75 mph the whole way. The troopers were flanking us like wolves hunting cattle; picking off the dumb ones. I have a strategery on 95. I don't drive slow, but I don't drive nearly as fast as the fast ones. Hell, let them get in front and catch the heat. And they did. Not counting a break at a Hardees, we drove from Savannah to S'ville in 7 hours and 45 minutes. The Lady and I hate leaving Savannah. Give me a few days and I'll give you all the reasons why.
Tomorrow is my first "real" day at The Club. Wish me luck.