Tuesday, June 28, 2005

a post-cleaning blueberry cake

I woke up Monday morning to hear the twittering of those tiny birds who are roosting on the roof, the dulcet sound of a humming air conditioner. I could smell coffee and a hint of cinammon, brewed hours before yet still pungent. I stretched out in bed, the sun shining through my window, pondering the patterns of light illuminating the piles of dirty clothes strewn all about the room. I was slightly groggy, somewhat sore (who knew mopping could work so many muscles?), and giddy with the prospect of an entirely free day.

I had planned on instituting an immediate plan of vacation-action: To Explore Boston, a city that I know sadly little of. Days after graduation I had left for Israel, returning to Boston only to begin work the next day. There has been no time yet to feel comfortable in the city, like I belong here. But true to my Brunonian background, whenever there are other ‘larger’ things to be done it seems like my productivity facilities shutdown and I immediately revert to some kind of procrastination. And after that last night’s 11-hour stint of hard core cleaning, my mind and body united to tell me one thing and one thing only: bake a cake.

Looking in the refrigerator for inspiration, I found a magnificent pint of blueberries. Poppingly ripe and almost blackly-blue, they are the soul of my blueberry coffee cake with a crunchy toasted pecan crust.

When I later pulled the cake out of the oven I could hardly wait for it to sufficiently cool before cutting a generous slice. Its smell immediately brought me back to when I was ten - the small cluster of blueberry bushes near my aunt’s lakeside house in Pennsylvania, my mouth stained blue, juice dripping down my chin, the berries roasting in the hot summer sun. The cake itself was soft and light, gooey and steaming blue with burst berries. The crust was a perfect combination of sweet and crunchy – the toasted pecans add an extra oomph of rich nutty texture.

I took my piece of blueberry cake, a steaming mug of coffee, and the new David Sedaris book out onto the shady porch. I sat there for a long while, perfectly content. Emily and Sarah, my oldest, comfiest friends, soon arrived and had no problem helping me in the cake eating fest. Later, though, we did go out to explore Boston, laugh over food and wine while perched at a breezy outdoor table, and talk about where this so-called "Real World" is taking us.

I maintain, though, that any talk of the Real World must be preceded by cake. It is much more palatable that way.

Blueberry Coffee Cake with a Crunchy Pecan Crust
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 stick softened butter
1 1/4 plus 3 tbs. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. milk
3+ c. blueberries (I like to err on the side of more)
1 egg white
1 1/2 c. toasted pecans, roughly chopped

-preheat oven to 350 and grease a 2-3 inch cake pan
-sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
-combine butter and 1 1/4 c. sugar in another large bowl, beating it until pale and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the almond extract. Slowly add the flour, alternating with the milk, until it is just incorporated.
-fold in the berries and spoon the concoction in to the baking dish.
-in another bowl, stir the egg white, pecans, and remaining sugar until coated. spoon the mixture evenly on top of the cake.
-bake for around 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester poked into the center comes out clean.

Monday, June 27, 2005

to understand a head of garlic...

Last night was long. I came home and collapsed into bed at 3:30am. It was a sleep filled with anxious dreams of crispy gold shrimp tempura and miles of dirty dishes being simultaneously consumed and washed, a never-ending stream of culinary duties.

In the kitchen we first powered through an interesting service: a four course fixe price tasting menu for all patrons. It was a somewhat successful attempt to clean out the walk-in fridge and serve everything that could possibly go bad in the next two weeks. No two tables ate the same thing; it was all a matter of the Chef’s gastronomic whim. Along with the Chef's interesting culinary prowess, (which I felt almost embarrassingly honored to watch, adoringly wide-eyed from behind the sink), this serving style also generated an obscene amount of plates to wash and appliances to clean.

When we started service the Chef looked at me, smiled broadly and said, clapping his hands: “This is what I live for, Molly. This is life.” His close-to-crazy happiness and radical passion radiated out of his body, from the wrinkles in his loose cotton chef pants to the tiny pores of his long nose. I, in turn, felt almost freakishly energetic, inspired by the creative cooking and collective energy in the kitchen.

But then, beginning at midnight, we began the long clearance of the perishables, a massive cleaning and preparation for vacation. By 2am S. and I were jumping up and down, playfully yelling ‘rapido rapido’ to an empty kitchen, attempting to motivate ourselves to finish our work and break through the haze of exhaustion. By 3, we were slogging through a perpetually not-quite-done mess of a sink, silently cursing the (extremely high) night manager who just wouldn’t let any little smudge on the fridge door slide past his observation.

I woke up this morning feeling slightly frustrated. After a quick talk with the Chef after service, I realized that I had been harboring secret visions of myself quickly and triumphantly donning chef whites and pleated toque, manning the saute pan with a genius that has not yet been witnessed by mankind. Not surprisingly, this is a tad unrealistic (besides the fact that no one at the restaurant wears a toque). This internship, I now fully understand, will largely be self-taught through observation. I think that it is difficult for me, coming from my academic background, to completely submit to this slow, physically exhausting learning curve.

But when I subtly inquired about a possible increase in direct culinary teaching after vacation, the Chef simply said: “The only way, Molly, to understand a head of garlic is to work with it every day, taste it, feel it, grow with it through the changing seasons. Garlic in May is a different species than garlic in December. It may sound cheesy, but I strongly feel that the only way to be a great chef is to understand your material, instinctively and experientially from the bottom, no matter how long it takes.” So, sans toque and however frustrating, that is what I'll be doing. In two weeks I will continue to gain a slow yet solid knowledge of the bottom of the (no pun intended) culinary food chain, not to mention an addiction to Advil and caffeine.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

a secret wine tasting and arthritic dish-hands

The busyness of what in the past two weeks of work I assumed was the usual rhythm of service has been elevated to a new level of intensity. Between keeping the kitchen in dishes, the waiters in coffee cups, the chefs in peeled carrots, picked herbs and cleaned lettuce, I sometimes have to remind myself to breath. Looking back on the last few nights, I’m having a hard time coming up with any specific incidents to write about. I hear a crash of white clanking dishes, shouts of the Chef, the sizzle of hanger steak in a hot pan. I see a gleam of orange-red-yellow carrots, delicate purple flowers of the gill herb salad, a blur of the perfectly shaped sour-milk panna cotta, a blood-red strawberry coulis. I feel a burst of damp hot steam from the sanitizer, sticky clear plastic buckets, the rough handle of a mop, the sharp edge of a paring knife sliding the crusty shell off a shallot. I can smell the dankly viscous bucket of fat to be trashed, freshly plucked green mint leaves, wafts of roast squab.

Clocking in my 10 hour nights, I come home feeling like I’ve been run over by a steamroller. My legs are covered in bruises and my hands feel like they have aged 50 years, bent with arthritis.

One moment stands out, however. 11pm, Friday night: I was putting greens away in the walk-in fridge when W., an older waiter, whispered my name from around the corner. W. is a rail thin gentleman with shaggy hair, inquisitively pronounced eyebrows, and an aura of ex-hippy. He has a penchant for complaining about the customers and often freaks out in the small room where dirty plates are deposited, a verbose case of claustrophobia. He always, however, and unlike other more single-minded wait staff, has a smile and a kind word for me in passing. While the other waiters roll their eyes at his often flamboyant antics, I have a fond spot in my heart for him. (Also, he once accidentally got some fois gras stuck in my hair during a late night snack session. I don’t think there has ever been a cooler substance lodged in my mop of curls.) And on Friday night his urgent whispers beckoned me, curiously, to the back hallway. He stood there, grinning, and holding a gleaming wine glass and an almost empty bottle of red. It was a 2000
Volnay 1 er Cru En Caillerets, an extravagant 81 dollars, and left over from the table of a wealthy diner who did not drink the last quarter. I don’t profess to know a whole lot about wine, but the way that W. said its name and described the vineyard that it came from (one man, a donkey, southern France and some grape trees) I knew that I was in the presence of something special. W. smiled and poured me a half inch of the dark red liquid. He instructed me to sniff, sip, swish. I did, and tasted deep dusky grape: a complex fruitiness that intensified as it travelled down my throat. “And that, Molly, is what it is all about,” he said cryptically. “Don’t tell the others; they’ll be jealous,” he winked; I smiled. We rushed off to continue our respective dish-duties.

Tonight is my last night of work before a two week vacation. I feel like I have just barely arrived (and yet, at the same time, feel like I’ve hauled enough dishes to last me a lifetime). But the restaurant is closing for their much needed summer break. While some of the other kitchen staff are traveling (the Chef to Spain; J., frat-boy-style to Cancun, L. to Maine), I will stay here in Boston, seeing some friends, remembering what it is like to see the sky at night, and certainly cooking up all kinds of interesting concoctions.

Friday, June 24, 2005

la chica esta loca

R., the day-time prep chef, laughs with boyish abandon - a deep guffaw that echoes throughout the entire kitchen. He, like S., speaks no English - only the occasional "okay thank you very much" in a parroting mock of the Chef's orders. He sings Spanish songs at the top of his lungs until someone yells "Callate per favore! I can't hear a goddamned thing!" And he grins, sheepishly, muttering something about merda and tu madre. He is short and stout with a wide, expressive mouth and perpetually greased-back black hair that hangs in a limp pony-tail. When he told me that he is 22 - "mismo como tu" - I could hardly believe him. His skin is deeply weathered, tough. We are the same age - yet his face shows an unsheltered, working life, while my own is almost embarrassingly fresh with the bubbly scent of academia. He hacks at the animal carcasses living in the walk in fridge, a large cleaver expertly handled, until 7 each night. He bikes home to Chelsea, returns the next morning at nine.

Last night, in a goofily uncommunicative Spanish conversation, he asked me if I liked the work I was doing. I shrugged, si. I attempted to tell him that I love cooking - that dishwashing and prepping vegetables are not my occupation of choice, but I want to learn about the food and the restaurant. He looked at me like I was insane - work is just work for him here; he doesn't see the beauty of a perfectly poached piece of salmon. (either that or I horribly butchered my Spanish and told him that I actually have deeply romantic feelings for fillet of bluefish.) But then he smiled; said, shaking his head, mucho trabajo per una chica. And began to sing, at the top of his lungs - La chica esta loca.. loca... llllllllllloca! Accompanied by a little squat dance, I almost chopped off my fingers instead of the garlic heads I was laughing so hard.

Later in service, I looked over from the sink where I was dutifully scrubbing a sauté pan, and saw the Chef staring at a large knife, grasping it tightly by the handle, its long sharp edge horizontal to the ground. He brought the blade, sideways, up to his face, and smelled the metal - slowly, painstakingly, sliding it lengthwise under his nose. It was as if he were using his whole body in a concentrated focus of inspection - to feel the knife, to understand it, to integrate it into his own being and imbibe it with his own senses. It was no longer a physical object, but a part of the Chef himself. He looked up, meeting my curious gaze - and whether it was the hard glint of the steel knife as it reflected the bright kitchen lights or the quick flash of his eyes, sprung from a more interior source, I seriously wondered: if R. thinks I'm crazy, what must he think of the Chef?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

a surprise encounter

I was running from the walk-in fridge to the kitchen, attempting to scourge the remains of the week's perishables with rapid-fire cleaning. We all wanted to go home before 2am. I had a pile of 'fishtubs', shallow square plastic storage buckets, to open and dump the hidden food scrappings in the trash, sanitize the box, repeat. I was moving quickly, in a rhythm of peel open, toss, rinse, wash. Wilted brown lettuce, clanking chicken bones, stale crusty bread crumbs, greasy remains of beige fleshed fish.

I opened my last box so quickly - 1:40am - that I almost didn't register what I was looking at. The nude head of a lamb, pink flesh glistening and mottled with red blood stains. Naked peels of ears hanging shrunken on its scalp. Its huge globous eyes, staring blankly, were beginning to ooze in a gelatinous gel. It looked surprised, to be found there by me, so early in the morning. It was as if I disturbed it from a deep fishtub sleep. And it stopped me in my tracks for a moment - we stared at each other - a fleeting contact with the reality of the food chain - until I disengaged my eyes and with a quick flip of the wrist, tossed the head into the trash, stuck the box into the sanitizer, and finished mopping the floors. A fleeting, but jarringly surprise encounter.

When I finally got home and into bed, exhausted, it took me a minute to get the image out of my head: those unflinchingly black eyes, staring out of the dumpster behind the restaurant, watching the black night turn to morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

sweet grits: less than perfect, perfectly delicious

Last night, my night off, I recreated a recipe. I had been eyeing this concoction all week in the restaurant. A warm, sweet grits, sprinkled with grainy turbindo sugar and torched into bruleed perfection. Sporadically through the work nights, my nostrils were assaulted by the sweet scent of burnt sugar. My fingers screamed with the intense desire to grab a spoon, crack the delicate top, and dig into its soft interior. The dollop of cardamom strawberry compote, the top of cool homemade white chocolate ice cream called to me.

My own version was not the visual stunner that I had intended to create. Instead of an edgy, driving Chef breathing down my back and the pressure of hungry diners, paying an arm and a leg, waiting ravenously - the usual conditions for the pastry chefs at work - I sang along to my Death Cab For Cuties CD, brandished my mini brulee torch slash microphone with ungainly finesse, and snuck many spoonfuls of ice cream (all flavors of Ben and Jerry's living in the freezer had to be tested for maximum flavor matching), not to mention the ones that just weren't quite 'perfect' enough to plate. But I gave it my all. Despite the somewhat burnt tops and a leaky strawberry sauce, there were no complaints around the dinner table that night. The grits were delicately sweet, creamy and infused with a wonderful cardamom scent. The strawberries gave a bit with a hint of liqueur and lime, contrasting in texture and taste to the cold vanilla ice cream. In fact, all proof of our sweet feast was consumed faster than I could even remember to capture it on film. Perfection, on one's night off, often takes to the back burner in the face of friends and fun.

Warm Sweet Grits
adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, July 2005

2 c. milk
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 c. plus 2 tbs sugar
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
a splash of creme de cassis
large slices of lime zest from one lime
3 tbs. unsalted butter
1 c. stone-ground white grits
4 c. warm water
1/4 c. grainy turbindo sugar
copious amounts of ice cream (vanilla, preferably)

- In a small saucepan, combine milk, 4 cardamom pods, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon, and 1/4 c. plus 2 tbs sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Then let stand off heat 45 minutes to marry the flavors. Strain the infused milk to discard the solids.

- Meanwhile in another saucepan, combine strawberries, liqueur, lime zest, and remaining 1/4 c sugar and 2 cardamom pods. Let stand 10 minutes. Then cook over high heat for a few minutes, until the strawberries are soft. Let cool. Discard lime zest and cardamom pods.

- Melt butter in large saucepan, add grits and stir over high heat for five minutes. Gradually add the warm water; reduce the head to moderately low and cook, stirring often, until the water is absorbed, around 20 minutes. Whisk in the milk and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, until grits are thickened, 30 minutes more. Let them cool a bit

- Then to plate: a generous dollop of grits in the center of the plate or bowl. Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar, evenly for a uniform crust and to prevent burning - use a propane torch to caramelize the sugar. (Although I suppose you could preheat the broiler, top the grits with brown sugar in a larger baking pan, and broil them for a minute or so to caramelize the sugar before creating individual servings). Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon the strawberry compote on the side.

Monday, June 20, 2005

on my first dishwashing week

I have finished my first week as a dishwasher and prep cook at my little funky French bistro in Boston.

Right this very moment, I feel wonderful. I feel alive: exhausted to the core, buoyant with the knowledge that I love what I do (in the greater sense, definitely not the mundane everyday duties). I, my family is surprised to hear, still love food and stand by my choice to work on the lowest food-industry rung.

It was a long week, working 9 plus hours a night. I did more physical lifting, hauling, and scrubbing then in my entire life combined.

I had to push through the difficulty of what I now deem a physical-labor-induced shock to the system coupled with jetlag (from my recent returned trip to Israel) and a cold. But I made it out the other end alive. After my third night, a slow-ish, tired night– I came home spent. I woke up early the next morning with a jolt - a fast paced dream: my night table was the sanitizing machine and I just couldn’t fill it fast enough with the dirty dishes piling up on top of me as I slept. When, later that morning, my mom asked me how it was, I burst into tears. A low moment indeed.

But after that hump, I have entered somewhat into the rhythm of the kitchen. It’s an intense environment – the Chef is yelling, the sous chefs are scrambling. Dishes pile up and there is a never ending stream of small things to be done, cleaned, put away, peeled or chopped.

I’m not really sure where the time goes while I’m at work. There are moments of severe drag – after the initial onslaught of cleaning and a few hours into service – but then picks up again towards the end, the final push to a clean kitchen. When we leave it looks like no one had ever been there. The battle ground of service is erased completely by our mops and rags; the counters wink metallically, knowing the violent activity that will begin again the next night.

I am entranced by the Chef. He is a difficult man; covered in an abundance of intimidating prickles. He drives everyone very hard, himself included. His notion of culinary perfection digs deeper than a simple aesthetic and taste. He seems to need an urgent sense of desire: from both the chef cooking and from the patron eating. A desire for what – simply for food? Food for him, it seems to me, does not consist solely of what is on the plate. The plate needs to look and taste perfect, yes. But there is more. You could not run a restaurant of this caliber without something more. A passion. One that I think I understand, although am unable to articulate quite yet. And the interesting thing is that this passion overwhelms and erases some of his more difficultly sharp personality edges. His love for what he does gives him a warmth that is enveloping; it bathes the kitchen in a glow.

The Chef yelled at J., a sous chef, last night, for not going fast enough, for not having things perfect. The Chef growled: “If it’s not perfect, then why are we doing this? Why are we even here? What’s the point? Why don’t we all pack up and go home?”

What is the point? And what are we doing here? What is this? These questions have been echoing through my head all day. It is definitely more than a simple act of sustenance. From what I’ve gathered in the short week hauling dishes and mopping floors, this is a passion that contains so much more than a plate of food. It is a passion for life – the very act of nourishing, feeding, giving people life on a greater level than simple nutrients or calories. It is feeding with art as well as nutrition. It plays with the senses, with the mind, with the taste buds, as well as the necessity of physical fuel-matter. The Chef seems to understand something that many don’t: food, society, togetherness, life, is better when infused with passion. Intellectual passion; artistic passion; culinary passion.

And I think about these things when I am relegated to a corner of the kitchen, covered in fat and grime, dealing with the remnants of these consumed passions.

I love just to be in the kitchen, to watch what happens, to see the chef in action. There is a position, hunched over a large white plate, arranging pea fronds to perfection on an oil-poached piece of salmon, which screams of concentration and of taste. The physical posture of the chef is unique – I don’t know if there are any other reasons for that shoulder-over, head down, hands moving so quickly and quietly. I itch to do the same. I feel alive when I watch.

My co-worker’s name is S., a quiet but smiling middle aged Hispanic man. He speaks no English, despite having lived here in East Boston for two years. I speak a smattering of Spanish, hardly enough for a conversation over 3 minutes. S. works hard, under the table. He anticipates the needs of the kitchen in terms of pots and pans, moppings and sweeping, garlic and shallots. He covers all of the amazingly balanced flavors of our staff meals with showers of Tabasco sauce. I am almost glad that we can’t communicate; we don’t have the same view of our work. We do laugh together, though, over nothing in particular. We took the 5 gallon tub of fat left over from the deep fryer to the trash outside the other night, each holding one side of the bucket. A large Hispanic man, a small white girl – communicating without words, hauling buckets fat together. He laughed at me when it’s gelatinous glop splashed on my leg; we made bets as to what time my indiglow watch read.

Last night being Sunday night, it was time to clean out the walk in – to use all the things that wouldn’t last until Wednesday (the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday). We had soft shell crab and bluefish tempura (a batter made using seltzer water) with a thick gingery sauce and fried lovage (a tough but tasteful green), strawberry rhubarb crumble (the top made with crunchy sweet nuts), and a deep dark chocolate terrine. At one point, S. and I had four plates of crumble on our little work station: attempting to eat all that the garde manger messed up on was a painfully delicious task. We ate deep purple red foie gras on toast, sprinkled with flowery herbs. Rolls with butter. Bulgar radish salad and a pork stir fry. Luckily the sheer amount of physical labor I do will keep me from near obesity. Or we can only hope.

In conclusion, I don’t like dishwashing. But I do love, still, the kitchen and everything that goes on there. I am willing to do the dirty work as long as I know that I will someday enter more fully into the dance that is service. Until then, though, I’ll teach S. some English, watch the Chef’s every move, memorize the names of a large number of herbs kept in the walk-in that I have never heard of, and work on fitting more desserts into my stomach.

Friday, June 17, 2005

fueled by foie gras

The Chef was especially volatile last night. None of the food presented by his sous chefs for his inspection before service was perfect. And he accepts nothing less than perfect.

“Concentrate! What the hell is wrong with you?” he said, the characteristically gruff bite to his tone sends chills down my spine. The cooks, though, are used to it and seem to have learned to let it slide off their back, returning to their stations and redoubling their efforts.

The newest kitchen employee, M., is a fresh faced Asian woman with a kind smile and eyes that crinkle in apology when she asks me to run to the walk-in-fridge for more arugula 4 times a night. She is still learning the art of absorbing criticism, feeding on it to improve her work. Her shoulders were sagging at the end of service, 12 hours after she arrived at the restaurant that morning. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her that she would be fine – but I don’t think dishwashers are supposed to do that.

I have avoided most of the Chef’s wrath thus far – managing to dart in between the hectically gyrating staff to sweep the egg shells and fallen meat scraps with lighting speed. Granted, I did knock a row of plastic containers off the center shelf into a completely inaccessible nether region of behind-the-stove. But no one witnessed my mishap (a remarkable occurrence in a kitchen the size of my bathroom), and I retrieved them, unhurt, later.

And after completing my second night at the restaurant, I feel tired. I have moments of anxiety – when my arms ache so much that I can’t quite get the stack of dishes up onto the shelf above my head, when I feel dizzy with the steamy heat near the sanitizer, when I cut my finger on the sharp paring knife while slicing morel mushrooms. But also moments of reviving ecstasy – when the house manager took me aside to say that she respects me for doing this, for working my way up from the bottom, for being so passionate – when sticking my hands into a bucket of baby mushrooms and water, a slippery cloud of fungi - when watching the garde manger torch the tops of small puddles of sweet grits, the smell of burnt sugar and the blood red of the strawberry compote piled on top is a beautifully multi-sensual image.

And at my lowest moment of the night, 4 hours in, I was tired, hungry, and just sprayed myself in the face with dishwater for the 8th time. I was eyeing the little tool we use to scrape down the stoves at the end of night, wondering how I could use it to gouge out my own eyes, when L., a wispy blonde woman-cook who wears a green bandana in her hair and a peppy attitude, turned to me with a piece of toast. A crusty slice of grainy bread slathered with foie gras, salmon pink and flecked with fleur d’sel and a rainbow of ground pepper. "Molly, would you like a snack?" I almost kissed her. It tasted of the earth, a deeply nutty, rich flavor. And immediately in that sweaty kitchen time stopped and I was brought back to Paris, an afternoon with Becca, my first taste of foie gras, an underground chocolate festival in the carousel of the Louvre: a happy memory indeed. After I ate, I felt better. Much better. I was a new woman, fueled by duck liver pate.

And that was when I realized that yes, there will be moments of horrible difficulty in this job and a most likely plethora of plans designed to remove my eyes from their sockets. But, at the same time, I am a dishwasher that snacks on foie gras. That is something worth working for; I am truly entering the right profession.

(also, a link to my first experience at the restaurant)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

so it begins...

I am now officially the lowest member on the totem pole of restaurant work: prep chef and dishwasher.

My head still clouded with the combined physical and mental exhaustion of my first night at work, I have only five minutes until I leave again for an evening of chopping, peeling, cleaning, and washing.

Tiny brown mushrooms were so minusculely delicate I wondered, like a mother examining her newborn baby's miniature toenails, how they were possible. Luscious green peas popped out of their crunchy shells. Slimy, foreign duck tongue confit was a gooey black mess to peel off the inner cartiladge.

And running back and forth from sink to kitchen, carrying dishes stained with the remains of a multitude of feasts, I truly felt part of the dance of restaurant service. I also, not surprisingly, felt more than willing to leave the kitchen filled with dirty pots and pans when 1am rolled around - but in the exhausted end, I felt good with what I did, what will come, and mostly importantly, my bed has never been so comfortable.