Thursday, February 5, 2009

prep day

I like prep days. they're easy going, low stress and even a little creative. the pace up here isn't as competitive or frantic as in the cities, so there's not need to queue at say, the sydney fish markets or paddy's at 4am, trying to get to the swimmer crab or raddichio before the best goes. in fact, the last time I'd arrived at the crack of dawn at my local fruit & veg, the boys were still milling about, rolling out trays of stock with all the urgency of a melting glacier.

so I enjoy a leisurely start to prep day, pounding down a half dozen coffees and reading the latest news, blogs and food forums on the net. it gives me time to budget out my buying for the day and to begin to think about the weekend's specials. most of my favourite food sites are northern hemisphere-based, so glossy photos and breathless reviews of 'hearty winter stews', 'rich minestrone' and 'beef bourgoin in a reduced red wine jus' don't really appeal to me (or our diners) in 40c/104f heat.

started pickling some baby octopus for a salad, they used to sell very well at our last resto, but the place was right in the midst of the italian quarter of sydney. it'll be interesting to see how it goes up here. also thinking of a nice summery potato salad, not the gluggy egg mayo variety (though I loved that at bbq's as a kid), but rather something more delicate. I've been keen to try some pastas, but am thinking it's still too hot. today's post about berries on gail's blog reminds me that I need to make up another couple of batches of jam soon.

among the tasks on the list today: making pesto, sauces and vinaigrettes; preparing and rolling out burger patties; trimming chicken and separating into fillets and marinating the rest for focaccias and salads; unpack the celery, reserving the leaves for celery salt; slice the ham from the bone; trim the rinds from the bacon, reserving for a future soup or stock; boil potatoes for mash; order bread and check that all needed stock is on hand and ready. by a remarkable coincidence, it's then often 5pm, which is happy hour at the pub across the road. there, I'll get the latest weather updates and agriculture gossip from the locals.

tomorrow morning, I'll roast off the romas and eggplant; slice breads (provided they were delivered on time...); set up the mise and salad stations; make a batch of garlic butter; caramelise onions and make gravy, wash and prep the salad veggies, make up some mayo; make salsa and guacamole and write the specials on the board. plus come up with some wise-guy retort for the a-frame chalkboard we use in the blackboard wars with the boys across the road. then I'll use my best gordon ramsay voice and say something like, "jean-phillipe.. open hell's kitchen", as the staff gals roll their eyes and go back to their coffees.

so I'm off to hunt and gather. I may post some pics if so inspired.