Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Home!

Come fly with me to new places on the Inter-Web!
Hi friends,

I'm now writing at

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quick Pic: Salmonete

It's the second week of the BasqueStage, and I'm trying to keep my head above water at Martin Berasategui. I'm currently working on the partida de pescado, the fish station.

Most of my responsibilities thus far have been prep work- cleaning squid, breaking down chickens for family meal, and folding squid ink raviolis (think of wrapping a cold, slippery Christmas present for a Lilliputian). 

However, today I caught a glimpse of the Salmonete dish: roasted red mullet, crispy scales, white chocolate, and wakame. Colors, contrasting tastes, what a gorgeous plate. Long hours and prep work aside, this is why I'm here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quick Pic: Pintxos to share

Pintxos (PEEN-chos) are Basque bar bites, small portions of food to grab with txakoli (a white, slightly bubbly wine made here in the Pais Vasco) or a beer for a casual meal. Much like tapas in the rest of the Iberian peninsula, pintxos are the Basque equivalent of fish and chips, wings or nachos, just with top quality ingredients. Meant to be a leisurely meal while standing with friends, pintxos are as much about the culture of eating as the dishes themselves.

Clockwise, from top left: carpaccio with arugula, pinenuts and Parmesan cheese; bocadillos de Jamon Serrano on perfectly crunchy baguettes; left, pulpo a la plantxa- grilled octopus- and right, txipirones (CHEE-pee-rone-es) - mini fried squid; and pintxo de champis- bread, bacon and mushroom towers, a savory skewer that prompts you to- ahem- order another round. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Martin Berasategui: First Impressions

I’ve just finished a Sunday lunch shift at MB, preceeded by lunch and dinner shifts on Saturday. Since the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, I find myself with some time to reflect on my new job and my role here.

The first thing I noticed about this kitchen: the sheer number of people working here. Numbers-wise, we would be very close to a football team: offense and defense, special teams, kickers, coaches, coordinators and trainers. Once everyone is in motion, it can be difficult to find your way through the tangle of people. However, the good thing is: there is always someone to ask if you need a hand with a task, or if you don’t know where something is.

I chose to start on the fish station; previous BasqueStage Marco Bahena had told me the Chef de Partida there was the most demanding. I figured if I could make it on the fish station, I would be able to make it on the other stations as well. This logic of starting with the toughest boss may or may not work out. I have seen more than a few serious tongue-lashings for offenses ranging from talking too much to improperly chopped parsley. 

Yesica concentrates on the raviolis.
For the past two days, I have worked with Igor (from Bilbao) and Yesica (from Argentina), on the Squid Ink Raviolis. To assemble this pouch of shaved squid filled with tinta de calamar, you need steady hands, a miniature offset spatula, and the patience of an origami professional. Intricate and frustrating, while also imaginative and beautiful, these ravioli probably will remain my task for the next week; after seven straight hours of folding these packets, I’m starting to get the hang of it.

En total, it’s a whole new world here. Elisha and I are used to skeleton crews in shoebox kitchens in labor-cost-conscious New York City. I think next week we’ll really get a feel for the ebb and flow of service here. While it’s taxing and at times intimidating, it’s exciting to be in a completely new environment.

Now I’m going to eat pintxos and drink txakoli- tomorrow is my day off!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick Pic: Here we go!

Tomorrow will be my first day at Restaurante Martin Berasategui. After stopping by the kitchen to talk to the chef de cuisine and a few chefs de partie, I snapped this shot of the copper nameplate that greets guests as they walk up the stairs to the dining room. Let the games begin...