Alright kids, luckily – due to the nature of the weblog (so many new words to play with! Blavatar, anyone?) this entry will, in due time find itself at the obscure nether regions of text. As long as I stick with the project long enough to bury it, that is. But this notion still gives me the courage to jump into some themes that are currently seeming a bit inane at the moment, but are two of the main premises of this undertaking as a whole.
So this evening I will begin a tentative review of some pretty heavy duty kitchen-ware, and I will also fawn over some foodstuffs that are awesome and organic, and require scant preparation – i.e. hydrate and/or heat, & then eat!
First the equipment – I had originally intended on beginning with the corkscrew (yes, really – it seemed so simple, turns out it actually isn’t…) but I am drinking beer tonight, so we will come back to that at later date. Today we will go ahead and begin with something very few of us will actually ever own – the heavy duty natural gas range. I am currently on the hunt for one, for the kitchen-to-be at New Moon, and this has become an oddly themed hunt, due to the specs on the unit that are being sought out.
The boys want 6 burners. Frankly, I think that sounds a wee bit excessive – the Diner did quite well with 4, and before that I recall that the cooks actually made due with hot plates and soup-wells for some time, which is really pretty amazing, not to mention against health-code, but whatever. New Moon does not play by Diner rules, and this is most likely a good thing, and the ultimate goal here is to be prepared. So 6 burners it is. Then there is the griddle, most likely a 24″ – again, I was thinking Diner style, with an open flame grill, but la plancha is much safer, and more versatile.
So here I am looking for a unit with all of this, which automatically makes it a 60″ unit – which is about as big as they make ’em. & this means there is room for two ovens below, which is cool, this way we can make lasagna and bread at the same time! From this point, there isn’t much more to work with than price tags, which will of course dictate the details of design, but in this economy, we just want something that fits the bill, for a cheap as possible.
& the winner is… The Garland Sunfire, which possesses all of the afore mentioned attributes, and even throws in a little broiler under the raised griddle, nifty, eh? This model goes for around 3K, including shipping, which really isn’t too bad. I have been trolling craigslist for weeks and most of the used crap on there costs just as much, and does not conform to our list of specifics anyhow. So we shall see if bossman will go for this new model, but it seems to be an entirely new product line, since I cannot find a single review on the thing anywhere. As far as I can tell though, the main attribute that sets apart the Garland from it’s more expensive counterparts, is that the fancier ones split up the 6 burners, so there are 4 on one side of the griddle, and 2 on the other. which is a nice idea, but honestly, I would just as soon go for the broiler bonus feature.
If we do end up getting this beast of a cooking apparatus, I will be sure to tell you all about it, but for the time being it is but a notion, and an overwhelming one at that! Therefore I have asked permission to recruit some backup…I have a friend that is much more well versed in kitchen management than I, and I have put in a plug for her to take over the R&D, not entirely, I still certainly want to help, to be involved, but frankly – I think this really needs to be done right, & there is nothing more valuable that hands-on experience to get something done proper.
The lady I am vetting for the job is the girlfriend of one of my best wine reps, we met at a wine tasting (some big fancy to-do out at Squaw, where she saved me from drinking myself stupid on Zin and Syrah) and as it turns out, she used to work at the Diner, back when John Jesse was still at the wheel! This is an incredible bit of luck for the book-to-be as well, since I want the story and the history of the Diner to be included in the text, and she was there, in the thick of it! So I am really hoping this will all work out.
& this is another interesting little twist in my own story, having been bossman myself once, I feel inclined to just order the stove, hire the lady, and get going on the gig already, but things are not so simple at that. Nor were they ever, back when it was my call … and I never could have afforded the gear or chef either, so all of that is neither here nor there.
But just to back-track a bit – when I say that she worked for John Jesse, what I am implying is that she is from the proverbial “old school” yes, I know, girls don’t like to be referred to like that, but trust me – she still looks fabulous and vibrant, even with a torn ACL and all! So, John Jesse is the master-mind-mad-genius that created the Diner from scrap metal and Australian hardwood. He designed and built the kitchen with his bare hands, he welded together sprigs of abandoned neon for the lighting, & he did not worry to much about the load-bearing beam that ran across the ceiling, forever prohibiting a hood to be integrated with his cook space…
Or did he? I really don’t know, myself, but now I have an in! Stacey was there, she saw it all go down – apparently, there were Mint Julep parties, I have never even had a mint julep! I only just started drinking port this last year – I am a baby!
It was 1989 when the Diner’s doors were opened for business, Mr. Jesse ran the place for about 10 years, before selling it to Terri, a young punk chick/cook, who ran it for another 4 years wither her husband, Tony, and then they sold the mess to my friends and I. We had a pretty good run for a while there, but after 3 years we had hit a variety of rough patches, and I ultimately bailed. So I did run the joint for 3 years, worked for Terri for the three years prior to that, and out of that total of those 6 years, I met the legendary Mr. Jesse only a handful of times. He seems to be a very cool dude, he was always very helpful and supportive, as I always had some oddball question for him, and he always had, not only an answer, but some time to hash it out with me as well. I have been meaning to talk to him about this project, for years now, but just haven’t gotten around to it, yet.
Now I will close up with a recount of dinner, which had as much flavor and integrity as one could ever hope to get out of pre-fab food. First, Flatbread Pizza, an expensive little frozen number, which is made by hand, using the most local ingredients possible, in reference to their kitchen, which is somewhere in coastal California obscurity. Granted, I don’t know how local sourcing really translates into mass marketed and internationally distributed pizzas, beyond the fact that they are supporting small farms and dairys – oh, and that every ingredient tastes divine… so they do this pie up with rosemary, red onion, a sharp hard white cheese (deliciously tangy), flax seeds, and pistachios! Just a couple few pistachios, from a Santa Barbra orchard – spaced around the center of the pie. It is hands down my favorite pizza I have ever had, soooo good, really.
& then there is Mr. McDougall. He is in the dehydrated soup business. With an emphasis on health and organics Mr. McD. has managed to produce some of the best split pea, minestrone, and hot & sour soups that one could find in a package. They are better than anything out of a can (sorry Amy’s – I love you, but no) even when they are still a bit crunchy, the flavors are that complex and wonderful! It might just be that he adds sugar or something, but I kind of doubt it…anyhow, I had the cous-cous and lentils tonight, a low sodium number, so I did have to salt it a bit, but all in all, it was a fine tasting meal, which also calmed my tummy a bit, which has been upset with me all day for drinking too much wine last night, hence the beer tonight. Which is Alaskan’s take on the White, wheat beer, very nice and smooth, though there is a lot of sediment at the bottom, it’s nothing you have to chew yer way through. & there is a polar bear on the label, too cute!
Ok, it’s 11PM, that means bed time for me, I have 4 days of work behind me, and 5 more to go before my next day off! That is what you get for taking a vacation though, eh?