Adventures of the Onion booty Foodie

Embark on my adventures of travel and food

Not so divine

I will keep this brief because this place is not worth my effort. So my friends and I went to Ottawa for our friend’s 28th birthday and all the restaurants were booked up so we ended up here. We had to walk through an outdoor alley to get to our table, which was bizarre. Our server was ok and the drinks were fairly priced but the food is mediocre, at best. I had the albacore tuna nicoise salad. The eggs were overcooked and probably sitting for a WHILE, the flavor was lackluster and the tuna was TERRIBLE! It tasted as though it were sitting in lemon water for some time in order to keep from spoiling. I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic but at least something I could feed to my cats and it was beyond that point. So all in all, stick to the fried food and you’ll be okay.

Peter Devine's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

A cook’s life

Hi, it’s been a while. I finally got internet! I just wanted to give you an update through my journey of becoming a cook. I was working full time as a cook while going to culinary school full time, I passed all of my modules and successfully completed my professional cooking course party Now I’m still working at the same restaurant and it’s the crunch season. I’m working 70-80 hours per week, not sleeping, and barely eating. My doctor says it’s impossible to do this for someone with narcolepsy but I’m doing it! thumbs up Unfortunately it has its side-effects. Well the burns, cuts, and exczema are a given. Bruises everywhere. Then came the rotting feet, yeah they had holes and were almost bleeding cuz of being in enclosed sweaty shoes for so many unhumanly hours. I made an action plan to revive them and it seems to be working but its so much work to take care of yourself. tongueThen all of a sudden I was having trouble breathing one day, like I was breathing but absorbing no oxygen, what is going on? I don’t have asthma and I seem to be having an asthma attack confusedStill had to pump out 57 mini burgers, almost passed out quite a few times. I know Ive been getting bronchitis and sinusitus over the past year and I cough like crazy every time I make my doughs… It must be the flour! Chef thought I was crazy; turns out I was right! It’s called bakers asthma, go figure. So I keep pushing myself and hallucinations keep happening, that’s a normal occurence for a narcolept but now it’s much more often. And no, not like imagining voices or people who aren’t there (we have a neurological sleep pattern disorder, not psychosis tongue) but some things are amplified while others are drowned out or you see a lot of movements around you that aren’t happening, you get used to it but it’s a bit trippy. I checked my weight, I’ve lost another 10 pounds, that’s 35 lbs over the past year, I haven’t been so skinny since pre-adolescence! Then I feel my blood pressure is very high, having a lot of chest pains. So my roommate checked my pulse one night, 159 BPM… oh! That’s not healthy.worriedSo I’ve checked my BP twice and it was 142/89 @98 BPM, 2nd time 148/88 @108BPM. Ok so I have high blood pressure and Tachycardia, wonderful. crying Then my roommate caught me a couple times sleeping in extremely rigid, fetal pose, rigor mortis positions that were immovable, a form of catatonia… So what next!? Well let’s hope nothing else, I will try to take better care and I warned my chef. I will be trying to quit smoking this week and trying to get myself to bed earlier.

On a positive note, when looking for my stage, I had applied at “Moto” in Chicago, with michelin star chef Homaro Cantu. My second e-mail to him was explaining how he had inspired me. When I went there, it was revolutionary but there was one thing I ate that I just had to re-create. It was the 3rd dish of 13 and it blew me away. He had made a pairing of 3 types of smoked fish with 3 types of baked goods. a mini everything bagel, a mini mozza cracker, and a mini spinach-ricotta macaron. ImageWhen the taste of the exquisitely made macaron with the smoked salmon hit my tongue, it changed my life forever. So when I returned to school I asked my chef if I could make “savory” macarons. He was hesitant but let me go for it. We had never made macs and I was on my own on this project, they are apparently one of the most difficult things to master in pastry. So I decided to make green, purple, and yellow macs that looked a bit like mini BIg Macs.Image

The yellow was a curry and saffron macaron, with a saffron cream cheese spread and curry chicken filling. The purple was a beet and cardamom macaron, with a fig compote spread and duck magret filling. and the green was, of course, a pistachio macaron, with a spinach ricotta spread and smoked salmon and salmon prosciutto filling. My teacher thought I was crazy to try to pull this all off for 60 people in less than 10 hours… I did it! applauseAnd everyone was amazed at the unconventional but mind blowing flavors. Then I became the “macaroon queen” and I had to make some for the last service as well. This time just dessert ones so I came up with the colors again and went with that. I wasn’t on desserts this week but had to help out Veronica to do them so we worked with what we had in the fridge and came up with yellow, pink, and orange. Orange was an orange zest mac, with chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache spread and a mint jelly filling. Pink was a coconut mac, with cream cheese spread and a lychee-pomegranate jello filling. Yellow was a banana split! with banana mac, sucre a la creme spread and banana, pineapple, and raspberry filling, topped with a chocolate ganache. The garnishes, respectively, were orange segments with ganache, lychee flower with fondant flower, and vanilla chantilly cream with maraschino cherry. People loved them! This macaron trio proved to me that it wasn’t just a coincidence the last time, I happen to actually be good at pastries. Image

So when I sent the letter about the macs to Homaro, I guess he felt my passion and sent me back “when can you start, a Friday or Saturday?” It broke my heart that I can’t just up and go from Montreal to Chicago so I was turned down but I will make it a mission to go back when I have the time, it’s an amazing opportunity.

One who works and thrives in a kitchen is undoubtedly messed up in some way and in need of constant motion, stress, drive, discipline, self-recognition, and pain. We are of a special breed who are slightly massochistic, as are army-men; have been through so much that we find comfort in chaos, and strive to find magic and beauty in ourselves that come out on our plates.

My busy life

So it seems going to school full time and working full time leaves me very little time for myself, go figure feeling beat upI’ve been able to stay in great shape due to my constant activity, which would probably be the only plus side but I don’t even have time to notice it, it’s eveyone else who points it out sadI manage to shower every day, which is still a wonder to me, lol but brushing my hair, forget it! I have unwanted dreads now. My hands have become dry and callused, as one would expect working 14 hour days in a kitchen. I’ve managed to maintain a relationship but how he puts up with my crazy life is still a wonder to me.

With all that unwanted information said, I still plan on writing and updating my blog, oh boy do I have PLENTY to write about! I just need to fit it in with other priorities. Right now we are finishing up pastry module at school and should be starting service soon enough. Work is crazy busy and I’m often late for school because of it sadI have some financial priorities I have to deal with at the moment that I’ve let go at the wayside from lack of time. I also finally have my trip to Peru to plan for! I’m soooooo excited! It will be my first trip of a lifetime. I’m basically backpacking it through all of Peru. From Mancora to Lima to Nasca to Colca Canyon to lake titicaca to Cusco to Macchu Picchu and back to Lima. Then an amazing jungle trek from Iquitos. Did you know that rainforests were the only ecosystems to withstand the ice-age? Therefore all the evolutionary processes that occured prior, remained AND continued exponentially while the rest of the planet was dying off or slowing down. They were seperated by large masses of land, at the time, long enough to create genetic differentiation between species but nevertheless, they kept evolving. I believe it is 30 species go extinct in the rainforest every day while the same amount are first discovered (Don’t quote me on that, it’s been a while since I’ve done the research but the idea is there). It is fascinating and mind-boggling. Either way, I’m ecstatic to explore this land for myself love struck

As it so happens, I’ve had some time to read, as well, due to my many metro (subway) rides throughout the day. I read Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” a great insight into the life i’m embarking on; Dave Pelzer’s “A child called it,” a tragic story that I think many abused children can draw clarity from; and the original 1890′s version of “Sights and sensations in Europe” which is quite interesting to read from the perspective of a 19th century wanderlust.

At the end of the day, I feel deprived not being able to blog or do so as I would like but I’m happy with my circumstances and will find the time to update. I’m going to the ice hotel next week, Quebec city next month, New York soon enough and then PERU! Keep in touch winking

 

NYC labor day

The first weekend of September 2012, I was highly encouraged to come for another visit to NYC. I had no funds and very little time but my girls insisted it was their treat, how could I refuse? It was a struggle, had a very hard time with Greyhound holding the money from my account because of an address change, I was furious! at wits' endBut it finally worked out, after hours of daytime minutes used rolling eyes I missed the early bus on Saturday so I only ended up arriving at 1:30 am Sunday morning thumbs downIt was too late for my girls to come out so I met up with some friends in Jersey and got caught up on some food network (seeing that I don’t have cable anymore).

I took the train early in the morning, with little sleep, to go to Maria’s in Queens. When I ended up at Penn station, I was so lost. I had no idea if I was going uptown or downtown, in reference to where I was and where I was going. I couldn’t find a subway attendant and the machines took credit only. Ugh, and nobody knew a damn thing about any of it! sighI finally figured it out and got to Jamaica and then took a cab to Maria’s. She was out buying liquor, hehe, so her son let me in. When she came home she ordered food and I showered and took a quick nap.

Ezzy woke me up soon after, butt naked, and I forced myself out of bed yawn We got dressed and went to dinner at Don Coqui in Astoria, a Puerto Rican restaurant. We had a good time, these ladies always know how to enjoy. With our bellies full and our pants ready to pop open, we left Don Coqui and headed back to decide the plans for the night. Ezzy was fiending for the tittie bar and even though Sue’s is known to be quiet on Sunday nights, we went anyways. It picked up around 1am and my gosh, the girls were FIIIIIINE! hypnotized We were both half in the bag by then and just havin a good ‘ol time. My friend Jason showed up and we all just enjoyed the party. Ezzy drove me back to Queens and I stayed up for a bit drinking and talking about my great love of food happy

Paella

Monday morning, labor day, we woke up early and had a small breakfast. Ezzy, Maria’s son and I headed out to see the labor day west indian parade. I can honestly say it’s really not as exciting when you’re not in it. It was also quite gloomy out and many of the mas players didn’t have costumes confusedbut I love to check out any carnival parade when I can.

DSC04059

The funny part of the day was Maria’s son recounting the events that occurred as we walked by several people. Necks were breaking and even one old man, half-blind,with a cane, attempted to start running after us laughing Gotta love booty shorts. I still had my groupon tickets for the liberty tour from my last trip to NYC so we went to the pier to finally redeem them and see “the sights.” It was windy and cloudy out and we were talking most of the time but it was a fun little event nonetheless. Afterwards we had to pass through times square to meet Maria for dinner. While there, we passed some greased up calendar boys who were hitting on us devil

DSC04119

Then we proceeded with our dinner plans, all you can eat meat and salad…or did I mean be treated like royalty for a night. My goodness, the carnivore in me ravaged through all that bloody meat drooling After seeing the bill, guilt set in but we must move forward and not dwell on the past. Somehow us 3 bright ladies thought it fun to go party on a Monday night, being so full and so tired, and wearing tight dresses. It ended up working out, we had such an amazing time!

DSC04128

There were bar dancers (whom we fell in love with), people “makin it rain,” good friends, 75$ bottles, hot bartenders, good music and great dancing. What a night to remember dancing

Now it was Tuesday, my departure was that night. Maria and Ezzy wanted to spend the day at the spa, I had never been. There’s a whole naked area with a huge jacuzzi pool, 4 hot tubs, a cool bath and a cold bath, a dry and wet sauna, and the nude massage area. We got full body scrubs and massages, which was a first for me, and then headed to the plethora of saunas on the other floors. There was also a rooftop pool area with a swim up bar. Then we pigged out on food there.

DSC04225

What a day to end off my short but sweet vacation. I ended up missing my bus and thus missing my morning appointment but what an eventful weekend I must say. Love you Ezzy and Maria!!! <3

Missed the mark

I had seen such great reviews about this place, the chef worked with Daniel Boulud, and I adore tapas-style menus so I was really pumped to try Biarritz. It’s a very small place, maybe 4 four person tables and bar seating, which we ended up having to sit at. The lighting is dim and the decor is modern and simple. The waitress\bartender was very accomadating and kept the bread coming. The butter was too cold to spread right away, which is always frustrating.

We ordered 4 items: beef tartar, the octopus, the quail, and the pickled veggies. Hoping that each dish would be better than the last, to my dismay, it went the opposite way. it went from mediocre to questionable, to disappointing, to disgusting. I love tartar and I’ve had some pretty spectacular salmon ones and was hoping this beef one would blow me away. It was okay, nothing memorable. Nice citrus bite, the homemade chips were unsalted to compliment the unseasoned tartar, and served with hummus. The redundancy of 3 unseasoned items was not thought out too well.
Beef tartar

I love grilled octopus but not with the skin. They happen to make it with it on and some people love it, it’s a preference thing for me. When they served it, the waft of pimento got my jowls watering, I was so excited. The potatoes underneath were burnt, the chorizo was sadly overcooked, and the octopus was grilled nicely BUT the whole dish was completely lacking flavor. When you present a dish with an overwhelming scent of delicious pimento, you must actually have flavor on the food, not have it just for decoration! Such a tease.

DSC04760

Next was the quail, oh please get this one right… The quail was surprisingly cooked nicely, however the portion was tiny, the flavor was lacking again, and the peanut butter sauce didn’t really make sense on the plate. The jicama salad was splendid though, I’ll give them that.

Quail

Finally I was adamant about eating something delicious here so I took another look at the menu, how can you go wrong with shiitakes, carrots and kim chi? I love all 3 and they’re hard to screw up so I ordered it. Oh my goodness, I thought they were just pulling a prank on me now. The dish was AWFUL! Whatever they pickled it in was nauseating and it overpowered all the wonderful flavors these ingredients have.

That was the last straw. Check please and get me out of here before 11 so I can buy some alcohol to wash this taste out of my mouth. It may have just been bad luck and ordering the wrong things but this had to be one the most awful dinners I’ve had in a long time.
Restaurant Biarritz on Urbanspoon

Ambrosial explosion

Cafe Habana
I am a HUGE corn lover, it is one of those foods that I would definitely ask for as part of my “last meal.” Most people cover it with salt and butter but I’m usually too eager to even bother with that, it’s just as good all on its own. At Cafe Habana, they do the work for me and enhance it from delicious corn into an ambrosial explosion. The take-out store is so cramped and dingy but with food that good, you don’t need to dress it up with fancy decor. I’m glad Tyler Florence brought this to my attention as the “Best thing [he] ever ate-on a stick.”

My friend was quite apprehensive at the appearance of it, she was reluctant to try it but I knew after one bite she would change her mind. They take a big juicy cob of corn that they grill to perfection, bringing out more of its sweetness but coating it with mouth-watering smokiness. Then they top it with cotija cheese, a grainy and salty cheese, chili powder, and a side of lime. Squirt the lime over it and you get the symphonious mix of sweet, smoky, salty, sour, and spicy. It was an explosion of flavor even the Gods would be envious of. … I swear she had forgotten her name.
Cafe Habana
Café Habana (Take-Out Store) on Urbanspoon

St Pius x

So Monday I finally started culinary school at St Pius x culinary school. I’m so excited, the material sounds so interesting! I’m in class right now, working on a project. We’re even gonna eventually work on some molecular gastronomy! :D I remember making my balsamic pearls, that was my 1st and only attempt at basics. You mix the balsamic with agar agar, heat it to a certain temperature, let it cool a tiny bit. Then take your jug of oil out of the freezer, suck the balsamic into the syringe and then let the droplets pour out into the water. I then strained them and voila! Put in on top of the crazy sushi I made and it was beautiful, a nice little burst of balsamic.
Sushi with balsamic pearls
But in class we will be getting into the real stuff, I can’t wait! Stay tuned for plenty of pictures.

Were only starting in the kitchen on the 18th of September, I cant wait for that! Everyone seems nice and friendly, Chef definitely makes class interesting and its so nice to be around people that share the same passion in food as I do. I always talk about food and make people hungry but no one appreciates the beauty, science and art behind it. It is one art form that uses all the senses. Smell, taste, texture, sound, and the presentation. The pleasure that comes from enjoying food is incomparable. Oddly enough, after I wrote this, our textbook had something similar written. Great minds.

I get to interview a chef of my choice so I chose the Peruvian place near my house, which is also where I’ve been trying to get a job ;)
Will be going to NYC again this weekend, hoping to finish up what I started in April. See you soon :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.