No hummus and pita plate! (An update, of sorts)

Uncategorized

I realize I’ve taken a bit of a jump from what I used to talk about.

Food has kept me more than alive these past few months. I don’t know if I would have been able to cope with my personal life if I wouldn’t have had a kitchen to cook in. The industry is funny like that. As stressful and demanding as it can be, it is a home for many. It’s been a home for me. Not just in a kitchen, but with other cooks and industry folk. They have held me tightly, given me space to create, and have fed me and let me frequent their barstools. If not to take the edge off, just a bit, but the company has been so important.

I wrote a long time ago that I had been given the task to start a dinner service at Woodlawn Coffee & Pastry, where I was once a barista, and now sous chef of a kitchen.

Well, in June, we started serving dinner hoping our liquor license would show up the next week. A lot of weird things happened and it was just taking too long, and we were being stretched too thin. So, I went back to doing breakfast, lunch and prep shifts until we got our liquor license straightened away. And so, a few weeks ago, we were officially given our liquor license. Woo!

So this Thursday, we will be having a sort of ‘grand opening’ harvest party to showcase some of the food we’ll be serving, and also as a way to have fun and welcome in the new season. It’s been a long time coming, for sure.

I’m stoked on my menu and am really proud of the way it looks.

I am, though, in the process of figuring out how to run a kitchen. Which means, thinking about food at least two weeks in advance and figuring out how to cook food with a kitchen staff that is pretty much just me, and the occasional runner, prep cook.

It’s a little scary, but I’m ready. And let’s be honest, when cooking in a kitchen, you will think you are ready, but it can change in a heartbeat. You just gotta power through it and hope to come out on the other side.

I’ve been learning a lot from other cooks. Learning to degrease as much as I can so our sink won’t back up. I’m always so amazed about how cooking relies so much on being clean, and cleaning. Always, cleaning. Haha. (I never write laughs in my blogs, but it’s so true…)

Woodlawn-Coffee-Pastry.-Perfect-spot-for-a-rainy-day-cup.-And-it-is-really-raining-today

Like I said, I’m super stoked on the menu. It’ll change quite often, considering I try hard to keep it seasonal.

This time, we are adding some house charcuterie on the menu. Pork rillettes, pate de campagne (country pate), and eventually, chicken liver mousse.

I suppose I am designing a menu on people drinking. Personally, I love rich, satisfying food when drinking a stiff cocktail or sake or wine.

No nachos. Not that I’m opposed to them, they’re just played out drinking food. No pita and hummus plate! Bah humbug! I always crack on this. I don’t know why. I just know whenever I go to a pub and see pita and hummus with raw veggies, I realize it’s easy and it’s filler, and honestly, it sells. I just can’t do it right now.

I’m excited to showcase pimiento cheese and house made crackers.  A killer meatloaf sandwich (which I’ve been told is better than most burgers on the block) and of course, since we’re a pastry shop, our desserts will be bangin’.

I’m excited, y’all. Feeding people, given its trials from time to time, really is meaningful to me.

If you do find yourself wondering about Portland, come by and say hi!

I’d love to feed ya.

Until next time, I raise my glass to those who have stuck with me during these hard, hard months. Thank you for reading and following and just being super wonderful people. It means so much to me.

-Josh

What It Is

Food

A friend of mine recently brought these folks to my attention. I’m not going to go into their story, because I’m sure they can tell it better than I could.

They’re called Farmstead Meatsmith and it looks like they do lots of things. One is to focus on the economics of butchery and another is making really impressive charcuterie.

I’d love for you to watch this video. If you have a hard time watching animals being butchered, you should probably skip it – but if you eat meat, it’s probably good for you to know where this stuff comes from. And it’s not that bad, really.

I was really moved by this. For one the butcher/farmer calls the pig by her name through the whole thing. He refers to the pig as ‘she’ while talking about its meat and bits. I don’t know, I get all sentimental about this kind of stuff.

Mostly because we really don’t see where our meat comes from. I mean, we think we do, but we don’t, really.

Even at the end of the video when they have a few flowers placed on her jawbone with music that is somewhat mournful. That’s probably kind of weird and creepy to you, but it was all sort of beautiful for me.

I’m not here convincing you to go kill a pig and make a bunch of charcuterie, though all of which he makes is really impressive and uses some great technique.

Head cheese is super weird, but this dude made it look beautiful. Like I said, I don’t know why, but I love this stuff.

Some people are really into The Bachelorette, and some people are into head cheese.

I actually don’t blame you if you aren’t into either.

But I do want to always think of the things we kill in order to eat. Plants included.

As I was going to bed last night, I began telling my wife about the head cheese scene. “Can I just tell you how cool it is that you can cook an entire pig’s head with trotters and strain the stock and then you reduce it and it forms it’s own gelatin as it cools so that you can use it to congeal all the meat that comes from the head??”

And as she fell back asleep, she responded, “That’s so great, honey — sleep good…”

Hey.

It is what it is.

And I love what it is.