Monday, December 26, 2005

It's Finally Over! Hallelujah!

It's the day after Christmas and all through the city,
Shoppers begin returning gifts and it's such a pity.
We joined the crowds down on North Avenue,
To restock our closets with shopping that was overdue.
Our car was towed from the lot of Old Navy,
And we schlepped the streets of Chicago to a lot that was quite shady.
But now we're home and safe and sound,
To enjoy some days off and slothing abound.
Tonight we'll tune in to the Jets and Pats,
Looking forward to another day of this and that.

Yesterday, on Christmas Day, I worked down at the Ritz-Carlton from 12:30 until 9pm....the same shift I worked for Thanksgiving. From the beginning of the shift until around 6:30, the time flew by. I was loving it and could feel myself home on the couch and off my feet in no time. Then, the clock stopped. The last few hours dragged on. It was painful. James, Oscar and I were working for our department. Oscar wasn't working at all, actually. He was walking in circles throughout the whole kitchen and talking with people. He was pretty much just taking up space and it was really irritating. When we would ask him to help us, he mouthed off one way or another and walked out of the room again. He is extremely talented but has some serious attitude issues that will one day catch up with him.

Therefore, by the time of the third and final seating at 5:30, James and I took the reins of the Garde Manger kitchen. We plated at least two back ups of each dish and started cleaning out our two walk-ins. We didn't want that to hold us up at the end of the night.

Our departments menu for Christmas was really embarrassing. $90 buffet for the guests and my lord, it was not worth it! Three of our dishes had the exact same colors to them and were placed right next to each other on the buffet. In addition, it seemed like there was an absurd amount of overlap between the ingredients. I have no idea who made up the menu, but the food was horrendous. Nothing even really tasted that great. Here is what we presented:

Smoked duck breats with charred melons with a salad of jicama,
cucumbers, and bok choy with Thai dressing
Toasted Israeli cous cous salad with chestnuts, assorted heirloom squash and
Creamy Red Wine vinaigrette
Warm sweet and savory potato salad, with Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Chanterelle Mushroom Tart
Red and Green Endive Salad with candied pistachios, pleasant ridge reserve
cheese and apple cider vinaigrette
Homemade Venison sausage with candied quince and red cabbage confit
Caramelized root vegetable salad with bressola of beef with
horseradish vinaigrette.
In addition, we also prepared:
Seasonal oysters with mignonette sauce
Shrimp and crab claws with cocktail and cognac sauce
Smoked Seafood Display of Maple glazed salmon, gravlax, smoked sturgeon,
scallops, smoked mussels and salt cod brindade
Display of Imported and Domestic artisan cheeses
Roquefort and fig tart
Dried fruit, quince paste, and mustarde fruits
Basket of crusty breads, flatbreads, and brioche muffins
Country and Duck pate en croute, chicken liver mousse with orange muscat jelly
Selection of cured meats served with Mustards and Cornichons

To start with, we ran out of the Chanterelle Mushroom tarts half way through the second seatings and ended up sauteeing white mushrooms for the third seating. The venison sausage tasted 100% like lamb and had no seasonings or flavor. It was embarrassing. The roquefort and fig tart was repulsive. Apparently, Joelle decided to try making it a different way and she felt that Christmas was the perfect time to try it out. She never made it once before. The cheese mixture was such a wet consistency that by the time the filling cooked, the tops of the tarts were dark and tasted burnt (cooked at 125). We only made six tarts for the 600 guests and about 3 were remaining at the end of the night.

By the end of the night, I was delirious. Definitely ready for two days off. Work in the Garde Manger kitchen slows down significantly after the New Year. Turns out because I'm the newbie, that I'm being transferred downstairs to the cafeteria. (UGH!). On the one hand, at least I'm maintaining the hours, but the cafeteria? A few weeks ago, Joelle mentioned that I could basically take the month of January off. So I was thinking of working down at my husbands school (where they actually pay more than the Ritz) for the month. I would rather do that than cafeteria work. And then I would also have weekends off.

There is a lot up in the air right now with my scheduling for the next three months. I'm not going to think about all that right now. I'm just going to enjoy this time right now off my feet.

I'll be working the New Year's Day brunch next Sunday. I am completely dredging that one. We are having 40 people for a New Years party and I'm due at work at 7 am the next morning. Oh lord! That will be interesting.

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