Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Shout Outs

In a season that sometimes focuses too much on buying, giving, and receiving  I try and reflect, give thanks, and remember how lucky I am. This always ends the year with a sense of peace that brings balance to what usually is a chaotic reunion of family and friends. This year, 2011, has easily been the busiest year of my life with more blessings then any man should have.

In business I have found out what people are truly made of and that I am surrounded by a solid group of REAL people. They continue to pick me up after weathering another vicious uppercut, brush off the dirt, and throw me back in the ring with words of encouragement that make me wiser, stronger, and hungrier. When choosing where you work coming up in any field, finding the best leaders in your industry links you with so much: mentors, consultants, lawyers, purveyors, farmers, fisherman, politicians, cooks, bakers, activists. All are brought together by passion and a belief that America, and especially Boston, is and will continue to be an incredible place to eat and enjoy all that food has to offer. Boston is an incredible food town with resources that other cities dream about and I feel very lucky to call these people colleagues.

 RnR is housed in a very special building surrounded by an incredible group of neighbors . I sat on the patio at table 31 six years ago on a sunny summer stroll with the woman that I would eventually marry and saw in what was Salute a restaurant space that seemed perfect for what I dreamed to do. What we ate at the restaurant I don't remember but the patio, how the windows opened the whole restaurant to the patio, the size and layout, how you could eat and have the breeze of a great summer day be a part of that made me realize the things that I wanted in my place. A place where nature's gifts could be a part of a dining experience, not just on the plate. After lunch and we ducked into the bakery, used book store, fish market, and Lebanese grocery I was left with an impression of Roslindale as a TRUE neighborhood city center that cared for itself and was growing with pride. I am very lucky to be a part of a group of business owners that work their asses off to make Roslindale Square real. Diverse, safe, friendly, inviting, vibrant, and beautiful.

A new restaurant is like a black hole that draws everything in without mercy or intention. As I pointed my hands together and dove into the center of this hole I took my whole damn family with me. Thankfully they were ready. My wife is a rock  that I grip to by the fingertips keeping me from falling into this hole without chance to return. My kids support both of us with surprisingly mature understanding about the hard decisions we sometimes are forced to make. My brother is there whenever I need him, without fail, and also seems to know when to show up when I need him the most and don't have the time to ask. And he's the best egg cook in town especially when the Panthers are streaking. My other two brothers have been just as supportive with words of encouragement, investment on the fly, and helping me steer the ship in the right direction. My In-laws continue to amaze me with their advice whether about business or balancing life against it. Mom and Dad provide the anchor when the ship is caught in storm. Always solid, predictable, and there. Always there. Ready. Willing to give all they can and then some. Thank you all.

RnR is a team. Some places say they are and then are anything but. Not here. This team is one of the strongest I have ever worked with not because of experience or resumes or glamour. They have all that but what they all share in abundance is heart, drive, and want for a better place. They shoulder the burdens placed upon them happily and ready to carry more to help this place succeed. They are the nicest servers you will ever encounter, cooks who help each other out when in the shits, writers and artists that give the restaurant a voice that reflects the passion we all share for our work, and growing more and more each week. Who could ask for more then a staff that has endless potential?

The final group that needs thanks, probably the most, are our guests. Thank you for your support. RnR is nothing without your visits, encouragement, and continued patronage. I tell our regular guests when they come in with new people every time they are the most valuable commodity a restaurant can have. That is and will always be the truth. Now onward to 2012 and all it holds! Good luck to all and we will see you soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chapter 3- The Melting Pot

This is a story of pain, suffering, and coming above it all.
I took a job at The Melting Pot after the summer excited about this newest restaurant in town. Fondue? We had fondue night at my house with a classic cheese fondue pot on a coffee table in front of the tv to watch Alabama football or The Sound of Music, the only important television events in my parents house. The ritual of fondue was cool and I could relate to it. This fondue was not my moms Velveeta. It was romantic, sensual, and GOOD. I worked day one and knew that I had found something special.

Once again Swift was my sidekick. " I can work whenever, but I have to work with my friend Swift."
"You HAVE to work with him?"
"I'm his ride."
And that was how our education in divorce, anal stimulation, and public displays of sexual stress continued to nurture. All that in one restaurant? You're damn right.

Leaving the Outback a teenage romantic I was excited to work in a destination restaurant. This place had it all: private booths, dark maroons and browns, fondue vapors that wreaked of romance, hand jobs.

How great is it at 17 to discover a couple giving each other manual stimulation under the table as your bussing the table across the way? To a 20-30 something thats not a big deal but when your 16 and struggling for a HJ whenever you can get it to see one going on in a sexy restaurant blows your mind. Never saw that at the Outback. There must be something to this fondue. Although the only date I took there ending up giving my buddy a HJ so...

With pleasure sometimes comes pain.

Hans, the chef, takes a phone call in the kitchen, comes unglued after being the rock we all depended on, and begin randomly punching the walk-in wall. A kitchen is emotion at its rawist. I have been there when co-workers get calls about: parents dead, car accidents, terminal illness, baby on the way, all of it. And they always finish the pick up and sometimes the shift. But Hans ws being torn apart in front of us. His children were being taken away from him, and they were his life. He was the man at the restaurant, but to see him hurt, hurt me. As he got off the phone and screamed,
"That FUCKING BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!"
and preceeded to punch the living shit out of the steel wall of the walk in the pain, true suffering, and reality of adult life became real. How could someone take the most important thing from someone after sharing such special times together? How could one inflict such pain upon another knowingly? How could another person be so cruel? Life. The facts of. They suck. The roots of my bitterness and melancholy. Life is your own. Own it. Be careful who you trust. Be VERY careful who you decide to reproduce with. Your stuck with them. Those knuckle marks on the walk in wall reminded me of that daily and I think of them often.

On another subject equally as disturbing to a 17 year old good boy and compounded by experiences at Outback on Tuesdays ;
Winston- "If your going around the corner, only lick it once."
As he described the finer details of stimulating the "other" regions of sexual focus to Swift and me as we prepared the raw meats for a simmering court bouillon the idea of toying with "there" continued to perplex my comrade and me. I was scarred and perplexed for life. Again, adult education at warp speed with cigarettes, cheese, and lots of grease...... I'm talking about fondue, what are you talking about? Don't make it weird.

This post is dedicated to Zack Randall. I don't understand the torture you're suffering right now. It is a day I know will come and dread. But like Hans, you will come out stronger, better, and focused because of the pain. 
"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger" Freidrich  Nietzcshe
We are all with you. Somos un equipo.

Next : Chapter 4- The CIA. 40,000 dollars and I still can't cook

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ferran Adria, mentor from afar

Ferran Adria, mentor from afar
            What does an avant garde chef in Catalonia have to do with a Southern boy with a deep love for pulled pork and all things traditional? Everything. Who is this bad mama jama? If you don’t know look him up and get ready for a lengthy list to come up. The most famous chef in the world is a quick sum up. But I’m not trying to write about who he is, but what he is to me.
            I first heard about Ferran and El Bulli in Oregon, 13 years ago. Some guy was turning food into foam by putting things in a whip cream siphon and and squirting it in peoples mouths and calling it a “course”. I was bullshit and had many an opinion about how this guy was just trying to create to be original but I was sure it sucked. How could it not? Where is the substance? A meal is about sensations of the palate but also about satiating hunger. Foam? Not enough for me. I kept hearing reports from friends that had saved up months of hard work to go to some temple of cuisine in the US only to be amazed by the flavors but pissed because they were still hungry after. Bullshit. A tasting menu must satisfy, you must be pleasantly full. No buts about it. (A big fuck you to all the chefs who fleece guests for huge rates while not filling their bellies. You fail in the most basic requirement in your craft, filling the belly. Look less in the mirror, exercise a little more, and eat more. You will be a much better chef. Crush them without mercy when they sit at your tables.) I thought this foam guy was this kind of fake. How little I knew I would be crushed by this sensei of cuisine 13 years later with 40 courses, foam included.
            As my exposure to fine cuisine grew a curiosity in new techniques started to become more interesting. The traditional braising, sautéing, and poaching still mesmerized me as I worked hard to master the moves. The rumors about this guy in Spain continued to grow and as I spewed my doctrine about posers and their shortcomings in little bites I began to doubt myself. Maybe there was something to this that was more than a fad/ scam/ style of the bourgeois. I decided to give it some of my time.
            The library came up short. Articles about him were sensationalized with press groveling about the length of the meals but little substance about him, the food, and the soul of what it was. And then the book showed up. Gary Strack, the chef at Central Kitchen in Cambridge, came to work one day with this big black book with chalk stripes on it talking about how he couldn’t resist ordering this 350 dollar cookbook from El Bulli. I can still remember opening it after work at the bar like Travolta in Pulp Fiction with the suitcase. Enlightenment.
            The photos showed more of the sensational fantastic, whimsical platings of the food that I had already seen. What was in the book was the soul. Recipes, techniques, equipment specs, and the progression of thought to how they got to that point with their cooking. This was where my education truly began with this unbridled creativity. Inside this book was a complete journal of how this amazing team of chefs had transformed their restaurant from a mini golf spot in a Mediterranean cove to the most exciting dining destination in the world.  It was steeped in Catalonian tradition, French technique, Italian simplicity, and was unmistakably Spanish. Respect and complete understanding of classic techniques had been mastered, practiced, and changed to morph into their own magical thing. And it all happened in this small beachside stucco building in the middle of nowhere.
            My fascination continued to grow as I visited the Schlesinger Library periodically where they had all the El Bulli cookbooks. Only Harvard would have a cookbook library, thank God I lived close by. The writings from Ferran, his brother, and colleagues continued to crack open the shell of tradition that I had worked in for my entire career. “It’s all been done”, “Respect and practice the classics” and “Change should be questioned” gave way to new thinking. Requests to work at El Bulli continued to be politely declined. Words like magical, fun, bitter, surprise, and unique began to describe my ambitions in flavor development.
            One day at Harvest, Kal the bartender casually mentioned that this famous chef was coming to speak at Harvard. A regular customer from the university had told him, the press leaked it the next day, I was there 4 hours early and sat up front, and was one of 500 people of 5000 that showed up who got to hear his presentation.
            Lecture? This was the gospel preached by Jesus himself. Words can’t describe listening to an icon in your professional ambitions lay out everything you wanted him to say and go further. The points about creativity, his critics, the unfortunate exclusiveness of the restaurant, future in cooking, etc. came as a beam of light in the murky quagmire of my then current cooking situation (that’s you Mary Dumont, a culinary quagmire). As Mary shuffled off to schmooze with some other worthless Harvard square chef I sat outside the hall in the cold of January trying to take in this baptism. It was time to make a pilgrimage to the holy land.
            Reservation denied 2009. January 1, 2010
To who it may concern,
I am a chef in Boston who saw Chef Adria speak at Harvard and am finally making a request for a reservation at your restaurant. I have studied your work for years and after the lecture would like nothing more than to come and experience El Bulli in person. I am available any time August through November. If the reservation is granted I will arrange the travel accordingly. I am hoping for a reservation for 4, but will gladly accept a reservation for 2 if that is what is available. I have another chef friend who is also excited about the lecture last winter. Thank you and keep up the good work. You inspire the world.

Mucho gusto,
Charlie Redd

We regret to be late giving you an answer. The demand has been again extraordinary and is difficult to go on with the management. We have found a solution but we regret that it is only for 2 people. When we start the season in mid June you can contact again to see if changes have been produced and we can add 2 more guests at your reservation.We have an option for you on Wednesday September 22nd of 2010, table for 2 people at 7.30 p.m. under the name:
 charlie reed
 Ferran Adrià will prepare a personalized tasting menu. You will try many different elaborations and it means many different products. It is very important for his confection to know in advance if some problem exists, like allergies or any other product that we could not include for anyone of you.
 I wait your news to fix the option and also with regard to this question to fix all the details at your reservation.I also ask you to give us a direct phone number to contact you, only if necessary, during your time in our area.
Sincerely yours,
Luis Garcia

It was on. But there was a new twist. Ferran Adria had announced a month before I received my reservation that he was closing the restaurant permanently after the 2011 summer! The demands of the restaurant had become too much. Lots of reasons, questions, angry people who were denied again. Fuck 'em. I had a ressy, and even though it was now worth thousands on eBay I was going. The experience had to be had.
            September found my wife and me finally taking our honeymoon after three years of marriage. We were crushed with the first year of parenting twins and a vacation could not have come at a better time. As we slowly toured the Costa Brava making our way to Roses, the closest town to the restaurant, the ways of Catalonia seeped in. The magic of the scenery, history, and most importantly the regional pride seemed all so familiar to a Southern man. As we prepared to go to the restaurant excitement and nervousness set in. What if it sucked? What if I left hungry? What if all my expectations had made the pleasures of the experience unobtainable? As we pulled onto the skinny road that led to the restaurant all the worries faded away. Down this winding road along the cliffs of the Costa Brava not a single house for 15 km as you soaked up the views of the area. The road dipped down into a cove where the restaurant waited with a few simple homes, a campground, and a dead end sign. Nothing else.
            The meal was all that and more. What did we eat? A warm strawberry and a frozen one made with Campari. Oaxaca clams. Hare in its blood. Blue cheese globes. The freshest tiny grilled shrimp. Sweet to Savory and back again. It was like a circus was in my head. Ending with a box of chocolates with easily 30 selections that are available nowhere else. The experience was a total experience and the food delighted, excited, challenged, satiated my hunger and curiosity, and made the experience one of the best in my life. As I shook Ferran’s hand after the meal I saw in his eye fatigue from the service but a glow that only a man who is filled with passion and joy contains. It showed in the dinner we had.
            So to Ferran, Buena suerte in the next phase of El Bulli as a think tank. Your influence on me has been profound and is only beginning. In this new endeavor I am excited to see how far the wings will go and I appreciate the openness and sharing you have made a large part of your work. I never thought flying was possible but you showed me that it is. Knowledge is meant to be shared and the writings and training you have passed on are invaluable to anyone who thinks about how they cook. The restaurant will be missed but the next incarnation of it will take the techniques of El Bulli to the larger world and beyond. You inspire the world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Open letter to Devra First, Boston Globe Restaurant Reviewer

Dear Devra:
First, thank you for coming to Roslindale, our quiet section of Boston. I am glad you thought enough of our project to come and consider us for a visit. Since the moment you first followed our Twitter account, I was excited and nervous about your visit. Now, on the eve of our scheduled review, I thought it would be fun (especially considering our past conversations where I criticized your rating system while praising your prose and quest for umami as the elusive Delicious), to tell the story about what I went through in anticipation of tomorrow.
Let’s rewind to a few weeks ago.
“Delicious, there is a Deborah on the line for you.”
“Heather, I told you I only accept calls from my wife on this line and her name is not Deborah. Take a message.”
“She’s from the Globe.”
[Pin drops in the background]. The wine representative I am sitting with shifts excitedly with a smirk on his face, and I say, “Excuse me, I should take this.”
As I spoke to you then, Devra, memories from the last six months with this restaurant came flooding back to me. When I was a cook, I put so much thought into the planning of a future restaurant, but also dreamed of the great reviews that could catapult me to success. When it become a reality, and the opening was upon me, the impression of a reviewer suddenly falls down the list of importance behind bookkeeping, hiring, menu planning, farm delivery schedules, painting, cable, gardening, etc., etc., etc. However, the reviews that hopefully will come are never completely out of focus. After we opened, I noticed your link to our Twitter account, and I decided to get serious about prepping for a reviewer.
As I sat up late in my dining room, sipping Pena de Lobos, I began to feel like a wolf on the hunt in the rocky slopes of Bierzo. Who are you, Devra? What did you like about other places in the past? What do you look like so we can identify your arrival? What do other people think you look like? How can I mark you and make sure that my team nails it on the times you come?
Then the idealist angel on my shoulder put down his cigarette marked with a gold dollar bill in a glass ashtray, stretched, and stood up.
“What makes this person more important?” he said.
This idealist, representing the younger me, continued on: “When we started this journey 20 years ago all I heard about was equality. A restaurant that was open to all, approachable to all, and where no one was marked with VIP (although all the 2011 Bruins are some of the few VIP’s at R’n’R since their championship defined the opening. There is an exception to every rule). How many times did you loathe that chef as they loomed over your shoulder pointing out issues with a dish you made 1000 times just because it was for this VIP?  How often did you stand on your soapbox, at the bar after work, preaching about how every guest was important and deserved equal attention? As you learned at Radius, every dish was for your mother, best friend, and Boston Globe restaurant critic. You started this project with clear ideas and initiatives that will all change, but remember ‘the why’. Why do you want to do this? Because you want to share great, local, thoughtful, fun food with whoever wants to come have it.”
The idealist continued some more, “This restaurant is for the college date who just wants to be treated with some fucking respect instead of like a child when they go out to eat with their hard earned money, and a restaurant critic.
This restaurant is for the English high school teacher that broke up two fights / was called a bitch motherfucker / was reprimanded for low test scores / had a 16 year old boy crying in her arms after class / managed to get off a trig lesson with success / bike had a flat tire, and Mayor Thomas Menino.
This restaurant is for the new parents whose 3 month old has finally fallen asleep and they can have some peace with a glass of wine and Joel Robuchon.”
 “Let her come,” he concluded. “Let Devra have a good time like everyone else, and let her write what she will write. Focus on everyone and you will succeed.” He then took a hefty drag from the cigarette he had put down and leapt onto a copper baron’s pirate ship disguised as a duck boat.
I sat back, staring at the e-mail I was writing to my fellow colleagues (the ones who had been so helpful in opening) asking if anyone had a picture of the unanimous Boston Globe reviewer. I wanted to paste her mug on the kitchen door so that everyone leaving the kitchen would be reminded of her and how important she was to our success. My old self was right: R‘n’R was supposed to be a place for all. It is a place where the working person was respected and welcomed, and a place where the experience of a reviewer was as important as the experience of a couple around the corner.
From then on, I stopped obsessing over nailing your experience here, Devra, and reminded myself what R‘n’R was supposed to be about. Nailing EVERY experience. Who will tell more people about R‘n’R? Paul “The Truth” Pierce or Chris and Kim from the bakery around the corner? Corey Kummer or the Roslindale Librarian? Zden Chara or Chris the school teacher? All are important because they have decided to spend their hard earned money at my restaurant and I want to make them satisfied with that decision. While you do a fantastic job of testing new restaurants ( I truly enjoy your column) and reporting fairly so the people of Boston can save their money from the pitfalls of shitty restaurants, should that make you more important when you visit than someone who has already decided to spend their money with me? No. In that category everyone stands equal.
While I wait for your review, life goes on here at R‘n’R. Regardless of your review there will be a group of people coming in tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that I have to give 110% to. Devra, uncovering your identity would have to wait. I hope you had a good time.

Yours in the search for umami,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chapter 2- Summer Camp

So where does a good Southern boy go to summer camp? Cooperstown NY, of course. No, not a baseball prodigy.I was scared of the ball. Beaver Cross was an Episcopal church camp run by the diocese of Albany that is within driving distance of my Oma's summer house in the Adirondacks where we would spend the summer. As I left the Outback with little ambitions for the summer I contacted Deacon Betty and she hired me as kitchen help for the summer. I got room and board, some scratch at the end of the summer, and got to be STAFF at the camp I went to as a kid. What else is there in life? The added perk that the most beautiful girl I ever had the luck of courting until then was at that summer camp and lived right down the road in Cooperstown. Northern bound!
So my brother and I packed up my Toyota Corolla, hit a few Dead shows on the way up the east coast, and I rolled into Beaver Cross Summer Camp refreshed and excited. It is a beautiful old mansion converted into a camp with little cabins, big meadows,  a pool, and a cast of characters like any other camp. Former campers turned adults that can't quite quit the camp life. But what a life. Even as a STAFF it's all games, swimming, songs, candy, but with access to the staff smoking porch, beers on the weekend in Cooperstown, and making out. Counselors, maintenance, directors, lifeguards, cleaning girls, everyone got into the mix and the drama was better than any soap opera. There is nothing quite like laying on a blanket in the middle of the field under a clear starry sky frenchin' with the NEW hottest young woman who ever got within my personal space. If this is what being an Episcopalian is all about, everyone should get some!
And in the kitchen was Patty. A great chef who truly loved food. She opened my eyes to what food could be, even at summer camp. Why? She fucking CARED. How many people I've worked with that don't care, stopped caring a while ago, or care but are too lazy to make it happen. Patty wanted it all be good even if it was for kids, teenagers, and STAFF that really don't care about anything. This cooking thing, bent over a big black ancient stove, walk-in fridges, and a steamy dishwasher that was a constant race was exhilarating and educational under her. I didn't cook shit, though. Scrubbed, cleaned, peeled, chopped, whipped with an egg under my arm to show me the proper technique, all the time dreaming about the next chance I might get to kiss that girl in the meadow even though she was making out now with one of the older counselors. "Charlie! Wake up and get those mashers done!" "Owwww! I just cut off the end of my finger!!!" Blood hits the ceiling. I battle on until after dinner when I get a trip to Cooperstown Hospital. What's not to love about that?

Next Chapter- Hans, a lesson in divorce and playing with food (as well as other things?!) at The Melting Pot

Dedicated lovingly to the memory of Deacon Betty and Frank, two of the best people I have had the luck to know and model citizens who made life for a lot of kids great. Summer camp should be fun, simple, safe, and cheap. They made that happen for my family and for many less fortunate than me. RIP.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chapter One- Outback Steakhouse

How did you get into cooking?

It sll started for a zitty teenager bussing tables at the hottest table in Charlotte NC in 1991, Outback Steakhouse. The Outback had just opened in what was to become a hip strip of cool small business and culture in this new money city. This is 91 though in the new South. Australian steakhouse with big oil cans of beer and you have ALL the Nascar races live? Two hour waits.

I was immediately taken with the beautiful college student waitresses, huge plates of food, vast amounts of alcohol consumed there, striking hostesses with huge breasts, blond hair, and driving an 83 white t top corvette (Amy I will never forget you), and the intensity of a restaurant that is so popular for a reason I couldn't understand. Did I mention the beautiful women I worked with?
I mean it was good. Everything was cooked from scratch except the bread. No rules. Just right. No bullshit. We were nailing that mantra. But how it happened is where the entertainment lies and possibly the reason Charlotteans were lining up for a piece of it. Is that a fist fight between a man and a woman over a prime time parking space? Your damn right it is. Dis she just spit IN his mouth?

This is all true.

Tuesday is KY jelly night
I don't quite understand this concept as a 16 year old zitty bussboy but it is explained to me in detail by Billy the saute cook and my friend Swift, otherwise known as the Salad Shooter. Billy's raging mullet, loud mouth, and skills to out gun any cook on the line makes him a force to be reckoned with. Not to mention his girlfriend is CK, a very beautiful waitress who easily uses 3x more hairspray on her bangs and tired perm then any other staff member. Sweetheart of the rodeo, for sure. Kind, soft spoken, and the "victim" of Billy's sodomy every Tuesday. I should and will stop there. Billy didn't and my sexual imagination never fully recovered.

Dine and Dash
The call went out from Dave our super cheap manager. All the cooks grabbed a knife and ran for the front door. I was on their coat tails as we rounded the corner of the restaurant to see a car backing up the street with no lights on. AS the crew of knife wielding cooks (and one excited, skinny bussboy) came around the corner it threw on the lights and gassed it. Unwilling to give our lives for the Outback cause the crew moved to the sidewalk but not the owner. He stood there like a statue, hand outstretched, denying them escape without running him down. They didn't give a shit. There was no way they were paying for that blooming onion. Thankfully the heavyset (to put it kindly) grill cook Darryl dragged Dave out of the path of the speeding car at the last second and the villains were apprehended later by the police. I missed the roll call when the cops returned with the morons and Dave paid out of pocket to press full charges. Curfew spoiled the full experience. I DID get a beer for my honorable charge, though. To the Light Brigade! Kind of.

Smoking in the boys room
All I wanted to do was smoke. Trash needs to go out? I'm in. Bathroom needs cleaning? I'm in. Pick up butts outside? No problem. I'll just be burning one while I'm doing it. Back then you could smoke anywhere. There was a non smoking section but was it really? No. Jesse Helms was still alive and kicking ass for tobacco rights, which NC was hell bent on, so smoking was the going order. Joe Camel was the coolest thing I had seen, period. I wanted Camel cash, Camel t'shirts, and was saving for a dreamy Camel pool table to put in my bedroom at home. Victim of a campaign targeted at kids? No way. I was 16 and knew damn well what I was doing and everything else about the world for that matter. Including how to run a restaurant.

"Would you chaperone a group of 16-17 year old raging hard on teenagers at a beach house in a family beach town during their high school spring break? Job includes buying lots of beer and liquor for minors, signing for the rental property, a hundred dollars cash, a free place to stay at the beach for week, and young minors in bikinis all around that even looking at them wrong could get you thrown in a deep dark Southern rural jail cell."
Outback employee of the month. "Sure. Sounds cool."

When it all went down there was one guy you could always count on. Kadi the blooming onion cook. He was deaf, portly, honest husband, and proud father of a daughter. He crushed the onion station, and it sucked.
When Swift and I got destroyed at the Christmas party where this machine called Karaoke set the place afire Kadi was the one who kept us away from the group dismantling the fountain and called us a cab. Kadi, even though he was deaf, knew what Billy was talking about in reference to his girlfriend and scolded him with loud barks and some bold sign language. No one crossed him though. You think a deaf Albanian has fought himself out of a couple of jams? Your damn right he has and you can see it in his eyes. Kadi, your the man.

I wish it was more dramatic. Just came in one day and I wasn't on the schedule.
"Hey, Dave, What's up? I know I was away for a week at Dead Shows but I'm not on the schedule. What's up, dude?"
"Delicious, I'll talk to you later."
Well I wasn't going to take that. This was my world, damn it. Take this job and shove it. Heads, I quit, tails I stay. Heads it is. Tell Dave I quit.
Oh, and by the way I will come back with James my fellow bussboy and eat dinner while Dave busses tables and have a burger at employee discount rate.
Dave just grinned as I did it. If only I knew he was probably carrying that Gloc 9 James found in the office a month later my heroic adventure could have been cut short. Angels have always looked upon me.

Next- Summer Camp. Beaver Cross!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soft Shell Crabs

I have a soft spot for soft shells. It is a sign, along with east coast asparagus, that we are about to begin getting the abundance of the spring from around here rather then from California and beyond. We constantly look to our local farms for resources but New England hates to wait for true spring stuff. Do we really want to put off fresh veges other then greens until June?
We look at the mid atlantic for the indications of spring this time of year. Jersey asparagus? i'm in. Maryland soft shells? Yes please. They mooch our abundant seafood all year long so its great that we can get a little love while the crops start up. They also drink all our good NE craft beer so I don't feel bad about sourcing from our VA brothers this time of year. VA is for lovers and we at RnR are definitely lovers.
Let's eat our veges! It's only a few weeks before its in the 90's, we're bitching again about the weather but we have to do it without as much clothes on. Tighten it up!

Go Bruins!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some photos from todays adventures!

 The Neon showroom, see previous post.
 211B Baker St (sort of) Chelsea, MA. Elementary.

The local network, for real.

In opening this restaurant I have been very fortunate to be out in the hands of many other interesting Boston businesses. Local and sustainable is a lifestyle, not a fad. Where we spend our money, especially as a business, makes a big difference in the greater picture and when working with good business people, saves one money. Paying significantly more for local businesses versus the competition is debatable but I see it as charity, and in that category Partners in Health does more good then any business could ever do. if you don't know about them you should. But is what you buy better, healthier, personal, interesting, and guaranteed to come with a smile? Then it is probably an established local business. Here are a few stories about some of my favorites in the last months. I apologize for the lengthy blog but grab a beer, all are worth reading about

J. Freeman's inc.- The guru of thrifty ( and plumbing, much love sensei) JC came in with a huge stack of cutting boards at Coda one day that he had just cut. He led me to Freemans's for the same when we were opening. Passing the 90+ owner as he was leaving for the day, still doing business, I walked into a world of plexiglass, wood paneling, old calendars, and a sign announcing a consistent closing for lunch from 12:30 to 1. I like any place that respects regular meal times. Nice guys who from my rough estimate had 30 years in the business between them helped me choose, pay, and load these huge sheets of plastic onto my 240 Volvo, the Grey Rhino. Smiles, instructions, and the common farewell I've come to enjoy "When do you open? Good Luck!"

Seymour Green's
Local Rozzie T-Shirt printer that hooked me up with the original RnR custom T and who will be getting an order for the first generation of logo T's soon. Shirts, hats, printing, the man will do it and do it right. His name is on it. The price is right and you can't beat the service. I think Seymour will be seeing more greenbacks, pimp. Don't worry, you can get almost anything here without pork, Insha' Allah.

Light Design Neon, Chelsea
My trip today to meet Kevin about a neon sign I have always wanted to adorn this spot with was the experience leading to this post. Shabby, weathered facade with a clean plaque on the door reminds me of what I would have expected at 221B Baker Street, disarming you for who you are about to encounter. The door opens into a showroom of neon lights, old and new that spread from the standard beer sign to works bursting from the wall with color, topless women, comets, and dreams. Kevin is neon and all I love about it and I am excited to find a craftsman who upholds a time honored style because of love, dedication to a craft, and the pride in doing something original and doing it WELL.

These places are just a few of the one's I have worked with that I am proud to support because of their superior business practices and products. I hope to do the same.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Open and ready for you to check it out!

We are finally open at R n R! We had a small test evening that was crazy and a lot of fun. Who knew so many things could go haywire? This is the restaurant business. Thanks to all our relations that made themselves volunteers for experimentation and thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming.

My current favorites:
USS Richmond Punch (where have all the great punches gone? Bowls included) chicken liver toast, baked RI fluke, ramps all around, mojo risin on a Nitro pour (big ups to PDX and Mcmenamins for introducing me to the pleasure of dark beer with nitros. Just like a dead show parking lot), rhubarb crisp, dirty rice.

We are open for dinner
Tuesday - Thursday 5-10
Friday, Saturday 5-11
BAR - open everyday at 3 for drinks and snacks
(for the earlybirds who are ready for a snack and refreshment before 5)
Tuesday-Thursday close at 12
Friday, Saturday close at 1am
(for my fellow night owls, hootie hoo!)

4257 Washington St, Roslindale
website to come soon. Check it out.

Lets go B's!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

News from 4257

Renovations are moving along smoothly with new vibrant colors, beautiful wood exposed, and some nice clean tile work from a highly motivated group of chefs/ amateur tilers. The room is coming together with nice earth tones ready to set off the warmth and late afternoon sunshine. I'm very excited about the room and serving some great new dishes in the neighborhood. It has been great getting to know all of our neighbors through the construction like Tony our next door neighbor, everyone at Fornax who keep me fed and caffeinated, and the Greek baker across the way who's name I forgot but at least it is written on the doll above the case so I won't lose face.

A quick description about our food- Everyone asks in varying forms what type of restaurant we are going to be. R n R is going to be good and fun. Simple as that. All my ideas about dishes keep returning to "is it fun?" What is that?
Hopefully an evening or weekend afternoon shared with friends and/or family enjoying flavorful food and refreshing drinks that surprise you with how much flavor there is. A memory is revived from a past experience reminding you of the pleasures at the table, reinforcing the idea that good food is about being happy, satisfied, and refreshed.
Snacks and beer on the patio at 4 after getting off the train just because. Yup.
Second date now that you know this person can be counted on for a conversation through a meal. There you go.
Watching the Bruins battle their way through the playoffs at the bar with a good pint and roasted meat. Got it. Why can't good eats be in these situations as well as on Thursday night when you are ready to have a nice meal after cooking up your own for the last four nights? Good fun food is flexible and doesn't judge.

Hopefully the faithful of Roslindale have a little more to chew on about our new addition to the square. I am very excited to be here and what our little restaurant is shaping up to be and hope you are too. Oh, and by the way we are listening: vegetarians fear not, vegans as well, good seasonal cooking doesn't demand meat although I am a card carrying omnivore (ask my old camp friend Melissa a vegetarian for 20+ years); my charcuterie will continue with pates, hams, and terrines; Southern style represented RIP Bill Neal; ee cummings nod, We're not worthy but will pay our homage to Forest Hills Cemetery none the less and toast him at The Enormous Room and keep the stream of consciousness coming (pray I don't go as far as my fellow southerner Faulkner); spring is around the corner as I test new dishes with pork and ramps. It couldn't come at a better time. Our new grill is coming Monday with wood smoke along with it.

I promise more posts with better editing and as much fun. Stay tuned. Website and opening coming soon.
Chef Delicious

Monday, March 14, 2011

Here we go!

I am proud to announce that RnR, Redd's in Rozzie is underway! Renovations are going well with windows installed in the dining room and colors being chosen. I have been working on this project for a few months with my biz partner Beth to create a neighborhood spot in Roslindale with great local Americana fun approachable lick you fingers get in there get dirty "what was that flavor?!" doughnuts hush puppies BBQ PBR KIR record playing baked fish right out of the water Island Creek oysters dedicated to Paul Farmer and raising money for PIH kabinett carmenere brickhouse  recycling composting insuring growing smoking butchering drinking tiling cleaning hiring hiring hiring. Sound like fun? More to come. Wish us luck.