Monday, January 25, 2010

Stoplights and Curly Fries

You ever have one of those Mondays that just, well, for want of a better word... bites? Waking up late for work, got a ton to get done, traffic is a nightmare, "can't do a thing with my hair", blah, blah, blah... Stress is building and not a friend to the human condition. Sometimes you just have to find little bits of happiness where you can. That's where Stoplights and Curly Fries come into play.

A 20 mile drive down Highway 400 ahead of me, an empty gas tank, gas is 30 cents more per gallon at the only station nearby, and it's nearing five p.m. Just lovely. "Splash" $11 dollars into the tank just to get the delivery done and get back to the "cheap" gas station. Remember those carefree bygone days of yesteryear when gas was actually under $2 per gallon? Ahhh... the memories...

Anywho, I get back on the road and pull up to the stoplight at the on-ramp to 400 anticipating the "lovely", "leisurely" drive ahead of me. Stomach is tight. Tension headache coming on...

Have you ever heard that dogs relieve tension? Even just watching a dog sleep can relieve tension. No! Seriously! I've actually heard that. "They" say it's a scientific fact. Who are "they" anyway? Though whoever "they" are, "they" are correct. So where am I going with this ramble about sleeping dogs? How could this possibly have anything to do with Stoplights and Curly Fries?

Stomach is tight. Tension headache is coming on. I look to my left as I sit at the stoplight. There's a woman in a gray Jeep Cherokee sitting next to me. I can't hear what she's listening to. There's no one else in the car but her. She has a box of curly fries in her hand and the most pleasant and contented smile on her face. For a few moments before getting on with my ride through hell, I take a deep breath, stomach feels better, headache eases for just a bit... and smile. Still wondering about my "sleeping dog ramble"? You have to get a little peace of mind where you can in this crazy world. Most people would have just seen a woman eating curly fries, but to a chef food is happiness and to whoever that was, you're curly fries brought TWO people a little happiness on this crazy planet hurtling through space. And I didn't even have to eat one! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Section: A Chef's Journey: From Birth to Now

In A Chef's Journey, I will relate memories of food and fun from my earliest days (and some stories told to me). I'll be skipping around as memories come to me, so don't hold it against me if one day I write about my childhood and the next what I had for dinner last night! I hope you enjoy and check back often!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy New Year! Glückliches Neues Jahr! Bonne Année! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Everyone needs something fun, interesting, and exciting to look forward to in 2010. How about getting a “look forward to” 12 times a year? Form a group of your neighbors, a Sunday School class, your work colleagues, etc., and come to our Castella Room once a month, and let us serve you a “mini-vacation” of the foods of a different country each time. Everyone loves Italian food, with their pasta, gelato, and wine. But how about Germany, which Lynda and I visited? A smooth trout soup makes a delicious first course, followed by sauerbraten, kartoffelklösse (big round potato dumplings), lingonberries, which are something like cranberries, but smaller, and fabulous pastries. The meal was ended with an assortment of delicious cheeses and fruits. One interesting thing we noticed, as we walked the streets of German towns, is that the people take their dogs for walks in the afternoon – about 3 P.M. – and have a pastry and coffee, sitting at outdoor tables with umbrellas. Their were also crepe carts on the streets . I especially liked the apple crepes. Maybe that was because we were there during Octoberfest, and many different kinds of apples were ripe. On Saturday, the open-air market lined both sides of the street. German bands played, cheeses, bratwurst on buns with sauerkraut and mustard were just a few of the many tempting foods offered.

We also went to Belgium and loved their frites (french fries served in paper cones with mayonnaise (try it—you might like it). High school students got an hour lunch break, so many of them walked along eating frites. You can also get frites Americain—that means served with ketchup. Moules (mussels) are also a specialty of Belgium. Cooked with white wine, parsley, and other herbs, they are delicious with frites. Chocolate is another Belgian specialty—Leonidas and Neuhaus-- were two that we sampled. We can order Leonidas here in the U.S. Our sister-in-law likes to get some for her birthday every year. Their little boy calls it “Mama Chocolate.”Belgium also has open-air markets on Saturday. They offer fresh produce, cheeses, rotisserie chicken and potatoes, and tarts of many flavors—cherry is especially good. Flowers are everywhere and are sold for amazingly low prices. Fresh flowers on all tables is just taken for granted.

Lynda and I also went to Paris. A French meal is “magnifique!” At Christmas, there are little white lights everywhere and on everything. How about some boeuf Bourguignon, followed by wild rice l'orange and many more typically French dishes. Do you know that a traditional Christmas Eve dinner has 12 desserts? Buche de Noel (Yule Log), Croquembouche ( a tower of cream puff balls, strewn with spun sugar), and crème brulée are just 3 that are usually offered.

How about an English tea party with an assortment of fantastic teas, scones, and cucumber and watercress finger sandwiches? Spain could be represented by a Tapas party. Ireland, Sweden, China, Thailand, Cuba, Mexico, South American countries, and even some of our U.S. offerings—like Alaska, with fresh salmon and halibut or an Hawaiian luau or a New Orleans gumbo fest—and don't forget muffalettas and beignets!

Maybe you'll like some of the foods you have so much that you would like to learn how to make them. Sign up for cooking classes at the Castella Room to learn how to become a gourmet chef—at least for some fabulous recipes.

So get excited, it's a brand new year. Have something to look forward to each month, and join us at Adaire Chef Services and The Castella Room, 6535 Shiloh Road, Suite 700, Alpharetta, Georgia 30005.

Phone: 678-445-6275 for dinners that are memorable outings.