A Week in Food

One of the main reasons I started Chef’s Night Out was because a lot of our guests at Tapenade Bistro ask me about what I eat, where I eat and who I eat with on my days off. So here it is; a post on a random week and the food I ate during it. Please note, I am not an advocate of a poor diet. I would be one of the first people (“Monk” being the first) to say my diet needs a serious overhaul, but “I’m just givin’ you the goods”. On a serious note, I mention considerable alcohol consumption in this post; I want everyone to know that I am a huge advocate against drinking and driving and never drive when I have over indulged. It is a risk I never take and have known too many people who been affected by drunk drivers to do so. BTW, I know I’ve had long-term “issues and concerns” with commas, but now I’m infatuated with semi colons and my improper usage of them. “So let us begin;” my gastronomic diary during the last week of February 2011.

Monday

Woke up early, a lot earlier than usual; I hate it and can’t stand it. I love sleep and need more of it. For some reason, on my days off, I get up earlier than I do on a work day. I wish I could sleep in, but my restless mind wants me to take full advantage of a day off. First thing I consumed that day was a Nespresso. I really love the ease and taste of Nespresso. I’ve been using the same machine for 5+ years and you really ought to check it out. I needed to work on a few menus, catch up on some email, plus I needed to taste some wine for an upcoming wine dinner, so I thought I’d get an early start on everything and “bang it out” while my girls were still sleeping. I like to taste wine early in the day, when my palette is unbiased and wide awake. Later in the day, when I’ve been tasting a lot of food, I find I cannot taste the nuances nearly as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a lush, I just like to do my serious wine tasting in the morning and do my serious wine drinking at night. With Mission Hill and Fairview Cellars selling out super quickly, I was excited to familiarize myself with the Nichol Vineyard portfolio. The Tapenade Bistro/Nichol Vineyard winemaker’s dinner with Ross Hackworth will be March 23 and I’m sure it will be extremely popular. Tickets are available now and I suggest you get yours before they sell out. With most winemaker’s dinner, my usual process is to taste the wine, make my own notes, compare notes from the winemaker, before I write the menu and set the wine pairings. I have to visualize the flavors in my head and consider what ingredients are going to be in season, what pairs best with the wine and what my brigade is excited to cook. For the Nichol dinner, I’m hoping to feature Kelowna morels, first of the season halibut and Sidney Island venison; I just hope Mother Nature cooperates. Jeeper creepers, getting a little off track. This is ‘A Week in Food” not “The Anatomy of a Wine Dinner.” When “Jazzy” and “Monk” finally got up, after “Jazzy’s” breakfast of stone ground organic oats and prunes, we decided to go have a burger for lunch. Very unusual for “Monk” to crave a burger, but she had this desire to go check out Red Robin. I had never been to a Red Robin before, so what the heck, I can’t say no to a burger. We shared the towering onion rings, I had the Royal Red Robin Burger and Monk had the Sauteed ‘Shroom Burger. I’m not usually a fan of these places (chain and non-ingredient driven), but I got to say, the burger was pretty good. The RRR Burger had applewood smoked bacon, processed cheese and a fried egg on it; “Loves it!” The biggest surprise was the fries; I normally hate thick cut fries, but these bad boys were tasty, crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Later that day, we had a Tapenade Bistro staff party in the Presidential Suite at the River Rock Casino Resort. We all met in the luxurious suite and started loosening up with a few beverages. “Sales Mix” picked a couple of nice wines for the evening and I drank a St. Cosme Cotes du Rhone for the rest of the evening. An hour in, “Grandma-ma” and “La Bre Bre” planned a scavenger hunt, so as the staff wreaked havoc through the casino property, I went down to the Curve bar with the rest of the judging committee, had a few un-memorable snacky-poos and relaxed with some Campari and soda. I love Campari and soda. After the staff finished their scavenger hunt, we headed back up to “el presidente suite,” got the party started and we dined on a selection of canapés. The wine was flowing nicely, the cards were flying and the inappropriate behavior became more and more frequent. I could write pages in regards to the staff party, but for the purposes of this blog, I consumed lots more Cotes du Rhone and eventually ate a plate of BBQ pork and rice in the casino. Nuff said.

Tuesday

I made it home around 4am Tuesday morning. Originally, I was planning on spending the evening with “Sales Mix” in “el presidente suite”, but when he greeted me in the suite at 3am in his gitch and acted a little friskier and chattier than I would have liked, I decided to head home and luxuriously wake up in my own bed. I woke up around 10am; “Monk,” “Jazzy” and I decided to go enjoy the weather, so after a Nespresso, we headed to Ki Sushi in New Westminster for some lunch. We ordered some nigiri sushi (uni, hamachi, toro, ikura), yakisoba, yakitori, okonomiyaki, agedashi tofu and a Vancouver roll. All the food was quite tasty and Ki sushi has become a go to spot, when we’re in New West. To burn off lunch, we went for a walk along the Fraser River and let “Jazzy” loose. That night, “Monk” had a hankering for “Pasghetti and Beefballs”, so while my daughter and I napped, “Monk” shopped for a few ingredients. When I awoke, I prepared dinner, just the way she and “Nuoc Mom” likes it; over cooked and over sauced. I must say, my meatballs were pretty awesome and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes everything better. We also had some warm bread with nice olive oil and vin cotto. I opened a bottle of ’07 Sandhill Small Lots Sangiovese and it paired very nicely with the meal. After “Jazzy” went to sleep, we ate some pears and off to sleepy land for us as well.

Wednesday

Woke up, had my usual breakfast of beta blockers, vitamins and a glass of water. On an average day at the restaurant, I don’t eat a whole lot until staff meal at 4:30pm. I taste the food while we prep and do lunch service, snack on a little bread here and there and drink lots of coffee and soda water. I’ll graze here and there, but I didn’t eat much of anything that day. For staff meal, we had linguine pasta with double smoked bacon and duck confit, a green salad, chickpea panisse and fried spring salmon collars. Staff meal is big deal for us at Tapenade. The kitchen crew, the servers, “Sales Mix” and I, sit down in the dining room and enjoy a civilized family meal together. For the kitchen, it’s a much-needed break before dinner service. It’s also a time to relax, chat, gossip and not discuss work related things. After staff meal, we’ll have our pre-service meeting, enjoy a hot Americano and put finishing touches on our mise-en-place in preparation for a busy dinner service. We had a super smooth, but relatively uneventful service that evening and after snacking a little through service, I made it home around 10:30 and my wife and I shared some fruit and Thomas Haas chocolates.

Thursday

Woke up, had my breakfast of champions. Later that day, I was going to be teaching a cooking class in conjunction with Touchstone Family Association’s Eating Together Week. What a great cause and “Sales Mix” and I really like to support as many local charities as possible. I love the concept of families eating together and adore Julia Child, so I decided to showcase her timeless boeuf bourguignon. I spent the first part of my day preparing the dish that the attendees would be eating that night. During the day, I had a few cups of coffee and nothing else. At Tapenade, we serve Mogianna coffee; an outstanding, family produced, single origin coffee from Brazil; tastes great and is socially and environmentally responsible. The cooking class was great and was lots of fun. The audience had tons of questions and it was my pleasure to answer them all. Check out Follow Me Foodie’s take on the evening. http://bit.ly/hX9Qud After the class was over, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day, so I gobbled down a bowl of my own beef bourg and also had a glass of the Cotes du Rhone that I used in the dish. After tidying up, “Sales Mix” and I headed to Harold’s, pontificated about life, family and the restaurant business. I ate some bar snacks and drank a couple Bombay G&T’s, made it home around 10:30pm, hung out with “Monk”, watched an episode of Survivior and shared some fruit and Thomas Haas chocolates.

Friday

Woke up, usual breakfast, drank lots of coffee, a diet coke and didn’t eat anything until staff meal. We were pushing pretty hard with MEP because our weekends have been so wicked busy. We had a tasty staff meal of lamb dry ribs, “Momo’s” exotic chicken wings, chicken livers chasseur, pommes puree and Caesar salad. Service was very smooth, but exceptionally busy. That evening, “Tugboat Annie” was visiting from the interior and joined us for dinner. After the dinner rush, I sat down with him, “Calamity Jane” and “Princess Tugboat”, drank a few glasses of Orofino Red Bridge Red and celebrated his entry into the Vancouver restaurant game. Good luck “Tugboat Annie”, I wish you the best and my door/phone is always open for anything you need or a second opinion. Got home around 11:00, ate some sour cream and onion rice crisps (no potato chips in our house ?!?!) and fell asleep watching “Despicable Me” with “Monk”.

Saturday

Woke up, downed my usual breakfast, but with some Cold FX added “in the mix” because “Jazzy” had the sniffles. As soon as I got to the shop, I started some hard-core prep for the next day’s Fairview Cellar’s Winemaker’s dinner. I stayed in my back prep area and did not have more that a sip of coffee or soda water until 2:30pm. In the afternoon, I tasted the first version of the “lemon meringue pie” that “Godfather” was working on and tweeked it a bit to pair better with the Fairview Gold. Staff meal that night included Brooks Peninsula ling cod collar, beef ragout, a vegan pasta (because “K-dub” is my favorite “vegan” server), frisee salad and roasted potatoes. Dinner service was busy as usual, even with the crazy snow outside. I finally got home around 11pm, had a bowl of leftover rice, had some fruit with “Monk” and tried to go to sleep.

Sunday

Woke up a little later because I had not slept well the past few nights. Had my usual breakfast, but stopped at Tim Horton’s on the way to work for a dozen donuts and a large double double. Got to Tapenade around 11:30, the boys were up and running already with brunch; we had coffee and donuts and I got straight into MEP for the Fairview Cellars dinner. As I was portioning the cheese for the 4th course, I snacked on Farmhouse’s 1st ever clothbound cheddar. Though still very young, it was very tasty and I look forward to trying it in a year’s time. We pushed hard all day and we sat down for staff meal at 4pm, half an hour ahead of our usual time. We had a nice sandwich selection including Westphalian ham, duck confit and pate de campagne, “Boomer’s” infamous chopped salad, my perfect scrambled eggs, pasta with butter and parm-reg and some leftover fruit salad from brunch. A little later, “The Great Wall” and I tasted all the canapés for the reception, had a little snack of steelhead caviar and I snacked on bits and bobs throughout the wine dinner. After a great dinner service, I paraded the boys out to dining room, waxed poetically and schmoozed with our guests while enjoying some of Fairview Cellar’s finest wines. We really enjoy doing these wine dinners and it was great to chat with Bill Eggert. When we were wrapped up, we headed across the street to the Blue Canoe for a few drinks to celebrate “Boomer’s” last night with “Team Tapenade”. I had a couple rye and gingers and eventually we ended up at Boston Pizza. We shared a spicy perogy pizza, cactus cut potatoes, I had a Coors Light and there ends the week.

So that’s my week in food. Not overly romantic, no fancy events or any fine dining meals. I ‘d rather not eat, than eat something that is not worthy. I’m no food snob, but I prefer the food I eat to be cooked by people who care about the food they are making. I really don’t think of food as fuel (even though I know it is) and think of it as a source of pleasure and enjoyment. I might have to discuss my relationship with food with my therapist at a later date, but I’ve got other fish to fry. Until next time, eat well.

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One thought on “A Week in Food

  1. Love how involved you still are, despite your go-go-go lifestyle. Finding that balance requires effort – good for you. Can’t say I’m quite there myself. I esp love how you remembered the little things, like sharing chocolates and pears with your wife before bed.

    Hope to see you soon, Alex! Must clink glasses in the near future.

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