I Blame The Professionals

Sometimes you just have to face the facts of life. I come from a long line of confident, fantastic, self-taught cooks. If I had the choice I would hire my mom as my in-house chef. My grandmother refused to eat out more than once a week. My great-grandmother used make everything from scratch, she’d start working on the next meal immediately after the present meal was finished. Then, there’s me. It’s quite sad really. There are few dishes I know how to make well (by few I mean exactly three), but I would never call myself a cook. Well, I guess I would call myself a cook, I just wouldn’t put good in front of it. Want-to-be-one-day-please-help-me would be a better fit.

No matter what the actual reason is for why I can’t perfectly recreate a recipe from a cookbook, bottom line is I can’t. Even though I spend so much of my valuable time in the supermarket finding cremini and shiitake mushrooms, I can’t prepare the recipe to taste, or even look like, a fraction of the perfectly styled, carefully edited picture in the cookbook.

Like all things that are tough in life though, finding something to place the blame on makes it easier to accept. I’ve done precisely that. I blame my terrible cooking skills on the lack of tools in my kitchen. I blame writers of cookbooks, and even alleged ghost writers*, for sharing recipes needing tools and ingredients which only a professional chef would keep in their home.

Almost all cookbooks have tools/ingredients/supplies outlined before the recipes start, everything you’ll be using throughout the book is detailed. Most of the time I have somewhere close to 10 out of 50 of them. Take ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meal’s’ for example, out of the 56 tools Jamie Oliver outlines on page 21 of his book, I have 11 of them (and that’s not counting when there is a multiple of one thing, e.g. two large wooden chopping boards. Instead of one? WHY!).

Yikes, you say? I know. I wouldn’t exaggerate the number to add drama or suspense, I promise. This is not a film or television show, this is my life! And that’s just one example – I’ve fact checked this myself with multiple cookbooks!  The sad truth is I am just not an all around package yet. I’m missing the tools, the wild flavors I’ll only ever need for one recipe a month, the gourmet kitchen. All I have now is the mental capabilities, the right attitude and the cookbooks. (A large sigh seems appropriate here.)

I know one of these days, more specifically: the day I get the chance to have my state-of-the-art kitchen, I will go overboard. I will relish in it. I will make my kitchen look like the ‘Toys R Us’ of kitchen utensils. I’m hopeful it will end up looking something like the one pictured. Plus more. Lets all keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. But hear me when I type, I will never admit that I simply just can’t make the green curry sauce actually come out the color green when attempting to make the Green Curry Chicken with Kimchee Slaw and Rice Noodles recipe. I will never admit that maybe I’m just a food lover, not a food maker.  I must never admit defeat!

* Rachael Ray and Gwyneth Paltrow may or may not have used ghost writers. (Despair! Outrage! Betrayal!)

Tech Takeover

This week I ordered dinner with an iPad, instead of a waiter for the first time. There was no waiter necessary, I just punched in the items I wanted, pressed ‘submit’ and my food magically appeared before me a few minutes late. I’m not going to lie, I was initially amused, even a little impressed. I mean, what is more fun than playing with an iPad until your food comes? That’s a trick question. The correct answer is: having a wonderful conversation with your boyfriend sitting across the table.

I started thinking more about the loneliness of using an iPad to place my order and realized this could be the start to a huge trend (if it hasn’t already started). This is more of a rant post than informational post so bare with me!

iPad in question:

Pros of ordering food through an iPad: 

  • You don’t go through that awkward thing of when the waitress takes too long to come to your table and you stare her down until she arrives.
  •  There is no way they will get your order wrong.Well…
  • You get to take silly Photobooth pictures or play Spider Solitaire while you wait. (Remember to delete them after you’re done!)
  • You’re in and out much quicker. (That’s what she said.) (Had to!)

Cons of ordering food through an iPad:

  • We are losing jobs to technology. The tech-take-over will not cease!
  •  The one waiter who is there isn’t as attentive to your table.
  • You don’t really get to ask for opinions and recommendations. That really sucks for someone like me.
  • Your friends may get offended that you want to play with the iPad
  • There is no button to request a refill on water.
  • You spend half your meal trying to come up with ways to steal the iPad. (Not me. Other people.)

As cool as ordering with an iPad was I can’t get on board with the whole idea. For me, one of the best parts of going to dinner is interacting with the waiter. I love dinner conversation and not to mention and being able to get the waiter’s attention when you need something like, garlic bread, another beerr, a side of melted chocolate, or a bib.

Marmalade and Soul

I thought that I had already found my favorite breakfast place in Melbourne, Australia. Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing today to assure you that I was wrong. Marmalade and Soul now has that special place in my heart.

I’m not sure if it was the atmosphere, the delicious food, the simple decor, or the fact I couldn’t stop wishing my family was in Australia to try it. I want them to fly from Florida to Melbourne just so I can treat them to Marmalade and Soul – I’d even be willing to pay. Maybe.

My boyfriend, Jack, and I ordered all our meals from the Specials board, but I already  know what I’ll get from the regular menu next time we go back.

First, let me talk about the decor. Exposed brick and white walls is about all a girl who has lived in New York can ask for. Then on top of that, they had about every kitchen decoration I have always wanted from Anthropologie, combined with cutlery and baskets filled with fresh fruit and vegetables straight out of a  Williams Sonova catalogue. The kitchen is clean, lovely, organized and most importantly open for all to see, which means I got to creepily watch the chefs as they assembled my meal to be. There is nothing I like more than watching people make food, well, other than eating the food they make. I felt at home. I wanted to run behind the kitchen counter and offer my help, but I know that would be considered rude and a little annoying.

Second, the atmosphere. We originally wanted to sit outside, but the place was packed when we got there and we had no choice.  That was a good thing in the end. I don’t think the staff at any other cafe have ever been as excited to see my face – something which I selfishly relish in every once in a while. Everyone eating looked so happy to be there. Sitting by the cashier gave us the perfect location to witness customer’s comments as they were leaving: “That was SO great”, “We are definitely coming again”, “Everything was PERFECT”, and the list goes on. The only thing that confused me a bit (I hate even bringing this up) is that I had no idea who our waiter was. We had about four, all very helpful and friendly, but we never knew who to signal for.

Three, the food! I’m not the type to just pick a meal and go for it. I’m the person that picks about three dishes then asks the waitress for help. Our waitress (the one I think was ours) described each plate I asked about as “so beautiful”, but said each is so different that it’s up to me.

I ended up ordering the Ricotta Hot Cakes with Banana and Honey Butter. After my first bite, I couldn’t help but feel butterflies as I was putting together each bite. A little bit of hot cake, with a some warn Banana and then I’d drag it across the honey butter sauce left over on the plate. It’s too good of a way to start your day. My boyfriend got the Granola, Yogurt and Fruit a long with the Peanut Butter Pop Tart. I didn’t try the Granola but oh boy, did I get to enjoy the pop tart. Contrary to, what must be, popular belief it wasn’t a like toasted pop tart from your local grocery store. It was a tall tower of deliciousness. It came with a side of strawberry  jam which I poured on every bite. Who would have thought jam and peanut butter were such a winning combination.

I must admit prices are a little higher than I was hoping for but sometimes a girl has just got to treat herself.

Eating With a View

“Did I shut the refrigerator door after getting a late night snack?” is a question you might have asked yourself tonight. “Does eating with a view really make a meal better?” is another question you may not have asked yourself but is more relevant to this post.

I recently took a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. There’s almost nothing to do but admire the breathtaking scenery ( well, except for all those action adventure sports). Don’t believe me? Fly to New Zealand and try to find a view that is not beautiful then come back here so I can virtually slap you silly and say “I told you so”!

On our last day of the trip we decided to finally go up the Skyline Gondola. We mostly wanted to experience the Luge Adventure but decided to make a day out of it and have lunch up there as well. Everything was beautiful: the gondola ride up, the views, the luge track, the company, the weather. Then we skimmed the lunch menu of the Skyline restaurant, not the nice one inside that cost $$$$$, but the one with the limited menu of hamburger, chicken tenders and fish and chips that still costs lots of $$$$. That should have been a sign.

Now, I never ever want to be Negative Nancy on here so this post isn’t about critiquing the food. The point of this post is that I barely realized how bad the food was, I barely even realized I was eating for that matter. I was having a grand ol’ time with the view, and my corona, and my sweater, and my boyfriend and the laugher and the luge and the music, and I blame it all on the view. There is no way you are able to complain about anything, especially food, when you are looking out into such wonderfulness.

Since then, I have started to (kind of) understand the restaurants that charge insane amounts of money for food, but deliver average plates. In my opinion a view helps make anything worth “it” (whatever it may be!), even if “it” is bad for your wallet and enemies with your taste buds.