Saturday, March 20, 2010

Staples, hummus, and playing catch-up

Hi there.

I promise I haven’t been off, enjoying all sorts of foodish things and not telling you about any of them. I wouldn’t do that. Last week (or the week before now? Yikes, time flies) was my spring break, my senior year spring break. I know that should have been exciting, but here, in Willimantic, it mainly consisted of glasses of wine before five o’clock and many too many episodes of fabulously melodramatic Lost. No sandy beaches, or Cancuns, or drinks with the little umbrellas in them for me. (Although, in my defense, my line of thinking strictly dictates that bikinis are not for March. Or April. Or maybe even May.)

So needless to say, I’ve been playing catch up with term papers and literary journal research, eating on-the-fly risotto, and spending the better part of Saturday mornings trying to make cut-offs out of old jeans. (Which, by the way, came out perfect if I wanted to have something vaguely similar to what Never Nudes wear.)

In an effort to not totally neglect you, though, I have a quick recipe and some exciting news. First, exciting news: remember this picture I took of pasta a while back? Well that, in a snazzy black and white version, is being printed in the Long River Review this year! Isn’t that exciting? I saw it in the draft that came back from the printer two nights ago, and while it's no huge, sweeping landscape, or an artsy portrayal of an antique car, I’m proud of its little persistence in being the only food photo that’s been published, well, for a few years now. Thank you, Dough, for being oh so photogenic.

Second, quick recipe: I wanted to give you my standby recipe for hummus both because it's my standby, and because it's something I have been known to live on for days at a time. In a word, this hummus is a staple. My roommate Annie introduced me to the recipe, and since, I’ve adapted it ever so slightly. I’ve started to eyeball everything now, instead of adhering closely to the exact measurements, and I’ve found that it comes out just a little different every time. Which I like, sort of. It almost turns the making of hummus, which is literally turn-on-the-food-processor-boring, into something less tedious, a game even.

Staple Hummus

I feel a bit like that name leads you to believe the hummus is actually made of staples, which means I should name it something else. In a moment of me exercising poetic license, however, it stays. Because I say so.

2 cups cooked chick peas
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 generous pinch salt
1 head roasted garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 tablespoons water (to achieve desired consistency)
2 tablespoons vinegar

To roast the garlic, cut off about a half inch of the top of one head, and peel all but the layer closest to the cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top, then wrap it in tin foil and roast for about 30 minutes in a 400 F oven. Let it cool, and peel it, before you add it to the hummus.

This is it: pulse everything but the water in a food processor until fairly smooth. Then, a tablespoon at a time, add in the water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Meetings and greetings

I generally don’t mind being left out. I hesitate to say that, mostly because it points glaringly at the hermit crab shell I like to sink into every now and then, and because socially, that’s weird, right? I don’t know, sometimes I really don’t mind being the third wheel, or whatever it is that they call it. Tricycles are cooler anyway. If I can drift off into some dream world of my own, I’m usually ok. Better than ok, actually.

But since I’m the weird one, and you, readers, are presumably the ones without hermit crab shells, and by that I mean not socially awkward, you’re probably feeling pretty left out by now. I don’t know if it’s because I've been too busy to notice or I’m missing some kind of cordial gene or what, but I’ve been carrying on about my restaurant, all this time, and I’ve never once formally introduced you to it and all of it’s lovely people. I’ve been a bad host.

So, then, in the spirit of not being left out, I’d like to introduce you to where I work, or more accurately, the place that has had dibs on me every Saturday date-night since high school. Let’s call it a meet and greet, long overdue.

Readers, kindly meet the Still River Café:

If you want to see more pictures of the interior, which you should because the barn is really quite something, take a look here. I took these at the end of service yesterday, and was experiencing the routine back-and-feet-ache ailments of serving, and well, didn’t quite have the patience for my camera.

I suppose this meet and greet will be slightly incomplete, because I didn’t corner each of the servers and snap photos of them, mug-shot style. I tried to be as discreet as possible, which meant that for today, you only get to meet the kitchen. But that’s ok, because this is where most of the magic happens anyway.

Readers, meet the kitchen:

That's Brandon, all the way to the right. He can usually be found at his station, singing a mean rendition of an 80s rock song, in case you wanted to know. Laurent is to the left, manning the stove, and is the frenchman that taught me to dice with the best of them. Also, that the the unused tops and leftover sides of red peppers shouldn't be thrown away because, in his words, zey are moneey.

And here's Joe-of-all-trades, who is apparently a muscle man, who usually serves with us but can also work in the kitchen, if needed.

Our dishwasher James may require a post of his own. In short, he's the man to go to if you're wondering how long it will take to translate, backwards, a Greek novel to English in your spare time. Or if you're short red wine glasses. Meet James:

I know you still haven't met the servers, or the owners who mostly function as second parents for me, but at least now you'll feel a little less left out. Stay tuned for hummus, independent study writing, and perhaps some pork buns (!!!).