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Sunday, October 5, 2008

work

So, I have other stuff to discuss here - but my batteries in my camera died, so I don't have pictures for what we did last Sunday. I have to use those lithium batteries, and not every store carries them. This is very inconvenient. So you ask, why not go to a store that carries them? Because I'm a very busy food ho. Well, actually, I didn't really have money before Friday to spend on frivolities like batteries, and we only have one car for now, so I have to plan special trips like that now.

Anyhoo, I thought I would discuss what I did at work this week. So on Thursday, I was in the weeds, as they say. I got to work at 1, and I had 3 hours to prep a lot of stuff for service. The boss lady and I were going to a charity benefit at Liberty Station - NTC Promenade, so I was in a rush. Tummy, the line cook, came in around 3. We needed more sardines cleaned and gutted for the event, so he had to work on that rather than prep for service. We were supposed to have around 400 portions for this thing, but we ended up having 250 - 300. The thing is, that these are sardines. As delicious as they are, not everyone wants to have them.

So anyway, I was pulled away from prep to leave and go to this thing. Set up was between 4 - 5:30, so we got there at 4:15 roughly. We unloaded, boss lady parked the car, and that was it. We were very unprepared but too early. We didn't have table decor, pretty containers and serving platters, even menus! It was unfortunate, because the boss lady packed for this event. She's only done four of these compared to my....I don't know how many I've done. Let's say 20? Maybe that's too much, but I've done a few.

Also, we were underdressed. When we were leaving I was looking for my cook's shirt - not chef coat. She said I didn't need one. I found it and brought it anyway. I was still way underdressed.

Now I'm not one of those pompous chef types. I know that I don't know too much about cooking. I know that my resume is not stellar. But I don't try to make up for it by wearing a perfectly crisp white overstarched chef coat with my name and title stitched in it that retains it's shape on it's own even without the hanger or person to hold it up. You know what I'm talking about? Okay. Let me clarify. There's nothing wrong with a nice clean white coat with one's name on it. But some of these guy, and chicks too, go over the top. They walk around like a puffed up rooster, are no fun, don't crack a smile, and they don't talk to anyway who they think is below them, yet they don't want to talk to anyone who they this is better than them either. I always wonder how small these guys penises are.....

So the point is, that I had my humble snap buttom black cook's shirt, which is about 2 years old. And my dickies scrub pants with bleach spots which are also 2 years old. And we were right next to the Grant Grill. So it was like they purposely put the two most opposite places next to each other on purpose. They had 2 tables and so much crap all over both tables. They had a tan linen bunched up on the front table, with pretty flowers in pretty vases, nice glasses platters, 3 camping stoves, all kinds of mise en place. It was the executive chef and the executive sous chef, and they were working. They needed all that time to set up.

So I tried to be busy. I put the grill on the table one way. Boss lady said to put it another way. I put our eyesore plastic salt and pepper containers next to the grill. I put our greasy squeeze bottles of lemon avocado oil out. The boss lady put those on a paper plate. She set out the cards, directions flyer, a $10 off coupon, a book called Bottom Feeder, and the restaurant banner out. She had to fold the banner in half, because one side said opening in June on it.

So we were standing there with our thumbs up our asses. Then Boss Lady realized she didn't pack oil to coat the sardines with for grilling. So she went to the store. She got Starbucks coffee too. I got a ginger limeade margarita. It was pretty good, but kinda weak.

So we sat. I did a round, to look at the other restaurants, but no one was really set up. They were all just waiting, looking bored.

The Boss Lady went over and talked to the peeps at Oceanaire. She was there for a long time, I'm sure discussing how much of their seafood is local.

So finally people started to trickle in. They would wander by. So we started cooking. The first butane tank I had put in had already gone out. It only had a little left. So I put in another. Then I put the fish on too soon, of course. People were interested to look, but no takers at first. They were too sober. Needed alcohol in their systems to "brave" a whole sardine.

Eventually, they were sauced enough to start trying them. But most people had to be talked into it. The Boss Lady was surprised. I told her this crowd was different then the slow food crowd. Some celebrities were there - Candice Woo, Sam the Cooking Guy, Brian Malarkey. Boss Lady talked to Candice. Boss Lady wanted to talk to Sam, but he's a celebrity. Someone was always wanting to talk to him. Finally she had her chance. He glanced our way! So she barked out, you want to try a sardine. His eyes lit up behind his glasses. Sardines. So he took the few steps over. Really? He asked. That's a great idea. He took the plate, and he started eating - just like on tv. He gobbled it up. Loved it. Or was that just his fake tv persona? Nah, these are good. I know he loved them. Especially with that local lima bean salad. Not fava beans. Lima beans.

Brian Malarkey did walk by and look at our fishies. The Boss Lady asked if he wanted one. He said, I'll come back later. Yeah right. Empty promise. I knew it. I didn't expect it. He's too big and famous and busy to be caught eating a sardine and spitting out the bones. No hard feelings though. He was a busy guy, judging the chef showdown and all.

Anyhoo, I went back for another drink. The guy remembered me, another margarita. I guess not wearing that same starchy white chef coat helped. He gave me 2. Nice guy. These seemed to have a bit more tequila, maybe? I only drank 1 1/4 though. I was working, after all. The boss lady had 2 glasses of wine. She was def tipsy!

So finally we left. It was a good event. I hope we got a few new "clients" (that's what we say now, right, not customer....) out of this one.

So a recipe? Well, this won't be exactly the way we make it at the restaurant, so you just have to come in and try them.

Grilled Sardines with Lima Bean Salad

sardines
veg oil

zest and juice of one lemon
7/8 c extra virgin avocado oil - did I say avocado. Yes I did. They're local.
1/8 c extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil

4 cups cooked lima beans
1/2 red onion, minced
1 t minced garlic
1/2 bell pepper minced
1/3 bunch parsley chopped
1/4 c extra virgin avocado oil
1 t apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
sea salt

So first you get your grill on. Then you can mix the lima bean salad and chill it.
Then you can make the lemon avocado oil. Put the lemon zest and juice, basil, avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil in a blender. Set the blender on high. Pulse it until the mix is all emulsified. Do it quickly, because it's easy to break this sauce. If you do, you can live with it - it still tastes good. Or you can take it out of the blender and put more lemon juice in it and put the broken mixture back in little by little but fast at the same time.

Then you can clean the sardines. Scrape them against the scales with the back of a knife or a spoon. Or if you are fancy enough to have a sprayer attachment in your kitchen, you can spray the scales off! Really. It's cool. Just be prepared to get a refreshing spray of sardine water.

Then you gut the little bitches. Take a sharp knife and cut from the fin in the middle of the belly and make a straight slit to the head. Take your little finger and scoop the guts out. Yeah, your finger. It's fine, really, you already have sardine spray all over your face.

So to cook the sardines - coat them in veg oil, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them. Put them on the grill on medium heat. They take between 3-5 minutes on one side, depending on how hot your grill is. Flip them. If the skin doesn't stick and the eye is white and popping out, that side is done. Cook the other side until the same happens to that side. Plate up your lima bean salad. Then put your sardines on top. Then this is key - drizzle the lemon oil on the the whole length of the sardine. Then sprinkle sea salt on top. Do it in this order, so that the sea salt sticks. It'll be delicious!

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