I love baseball movies. Dennis Quaid stars in “The Rookie,” where a 38-year-old becomes a rookie all over again. It’s based on fact! Jimmy Morris (played by Dennis Quaid) enters the locker room and says, “you know what we get to do today Brooks. We get to play baseball.”
Well, I’m no 38-year-old rookie, but I know his sense of joy and can paraphrase his quote by saying, “You know what I get to do today? I get to think about food.”
Thinking about food is what I do. There are business issues as well, but food is the priority, especially during September, when I write the fall menus.
It’s the month when the pace of business is at its nadir. You have to hit bottom sometime! The staff gets a little cranky. Purveyors try to sell you anything. The high and low temperatures drop by one degree. The European visitors have gone home. September is the time when Friday night local football can take precedence over dining. This must be what February feels like in Chicago.
So I read and absorb every food article I can find. I’m constantly amazed at the vast array of cuisines about which I know nothing, balanced by an equally vast array of cuisines about which I want to know nothing!
The chefs and I talk in detail about taste, texture and food combinations, always looking for that magic ingredient or technique that makes something chef-prepared and worthy of our menu.
In September, I sit in my office and think. There is no greater luxury. Well, maybe sitting by a fireplace in Vermont reading a good book for hours is better! This is the time when I truly know that food is my passion. I find nothing boring.
We’re experimenting with a pasta carbonara-like entrée with a baked julienne of either duck or ham prosciutto. I’ve got a need to use the eggs and fries dish we had at The Publican this past summer. Thinking of adding some cubed Foie Gras and sautéing potatoes in that. The organics cooking class made me think- more about buying local. We’ll have lots from Rabbit Run this fall. I sense at least one item that you pick up and eat with your hands!
I’m working with Emily Duncan to complete the Tony’s Off Third bakery-to-pastry shop transition. Emily has superb skills. She is unbelievably organized and her cake decorating skills have little equal in Naples.
Emily and I are collaborating on bringing some classic ideas in a current style, enhanced by her culinary skills. We’ll have pastry tastings on Saturday mornings, starting in late October. We’ll move the deli cases in the bakery to make it one huge pastry display. Former Truffles customers will rejoice at the magnitude. Perhaps our combined efforts will be a result of Truffles meets Fauchon.
The fall menu for Ridgway is well underway, and I like it a lot. I know there will be tweaks and that the staff will have their say as well. Like a good soup, the menu is simmering to fully develop.
Top Chef is over- a little disappointing this year. Hopefully the dessert spin-off generates excitement.
See you soon and let’s talk food and pastries.