Friday, March 6, 2009

The Final Week

Today marks the start of the end for me at TR. I work today through next Thursday, then I'm done. I gave my two weeks notice last weekend. I know it's a financially irresponsible move, especially in this economy, but it's a choice I've made.

My time at TR has been a rollercoaster, to be sure. And rather than keep riding, I think it's time to try a different ride. If only life were just one big amusement park. Huh. If my life were transposed into Disneyland, TR would be like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Lots of twists and turns and ups and downs. It goes fast, then slow, then fast again. Through the dark, through the sunshine, through the shadows. You get to see all sorts of new things and people. And at the end of the ride, the people that welcomed you with a smile show you the way out, still with a smile. And as you walk away from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, your legs are a little jelly-like, your breath still isn't back to normal, but you're glad you went on the ride, regardless of how the rest of the day goes.

Enough with the metaphors. Thanks to all who supported me during my time at TR. Thanks for coming to dine, to wave hello, or to simply say, "I went there."

Thanks. Here goes nothing.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Things that make me smile at TR:

- friends that bring their families for dinner,
- family members that bring their friends,
- friends that bring more friends,
- children, both familiar and unknown, in awe at seeing the flames and food of a restaurant kitchen,
- being in the newspaper as one of the top five places to visit,
- having so many repeat guests that even the prep cook knows who they are,
- Chinese family members and their interactions,
- learning about Chinese culture and traditions first hand, while still in Washington,
- hearing a guest say thank you to the cooks, especially when they rave about a sauce or dessert or appetizer I made,
- having a chance to try something totally new and different that I know I've enjoyed on a smaller scale,
- being welcomed into a new family, and of course,
- delicious food!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monster Mega-Post: Beware!

I want to apologize in advance of this long post. But enjoy, nevertheless.

Monday and Tuesday of this week were not all that busy at TR. However, due to the down time and the slow post-Thanksgiving weekend, I was pretty productive. This weekend I rolled around 150 springrolls and nearly 200 potstickers. I also got to try my hand at making the Marionberry Crostadas. D. made the filling, but I made the crust and formed the crostadas, which Chef. J. said were "beautiful". Then the owner A. said the "look good and small even better!" This was after I had pulled them from the oven, the Marionberry filling bubbling slightly and the edges of the crust a nice golden hue. So that made me feel pretty good, to be sure.

In other food news, I tried my hand at cooking with the wok Tuesday night. I made myself Mongolian Scallion Beef. Delicious! I mean, it's not ready to be served to paying guests, but it's far from awful. I didn't quite get all the sauce distributed properly, but that's okay for the first time. I learned that it is a lot harder to flip food in a wok than in a saute pan. Here's a quick step-by-step on how we make this dish:
1) Heat 3 spoonfulls of oil in wok (btw, the spoons probably measure a cup each). While heating, get 10 oz. of pre-dredged beef and a large handful of scallions, cut 1" long.
2) Oil velvet (i.e. fry in the wok) beef. Use the wok spoon (maybe more of a shovel) to keep beef separated while cooking.
3) Drain wok, keeping beef on the side. Saute garlic, dried chilis, and chili flakes.
4) Add in about half a spoon of Dark Sauce (our house sauce which I make), and 3 T sugar. Stir until caramelized.
5) Toss in beef and scallions. Toss to coat beef in sauce.
6) Serve over or beside rice.

This dish doesn't have a lot of complexity to it; rather, it's the speed at which all this occurs that makes this a tough dish to cook. I think I did okay for my first time though. And I'm getting better at cleaning the wok too. Baby steps.

Something else I learned this week, not TR menu related, is about snakes in China. Chef M. (who pronounces snake "snaket") was telling me that the majority of snakes in China prefer the southern (more tropical) regions of China, especially cobras. Yikes! Did you know that snakes HATE the smell of mint?! They will not slither through mint plants, they would rather go around. Also, for non-venomous snake bites Chinese medicine dictates making a dressing out of mint leaves to apply to the bite. Supposed to be very helpful and curative. Also, cobra soup is supposed to be extremely healthy in Chinese medicine, even to the point of healing osteoporosis (sp?) and arthritis. Chef M. said that's why cobra soup is so expensive...

When there is a lot of down time in the kitchen and there isn't a whole lot of prep to do, I clean. Tuesday I cleaned the freezer, walk-in refrigerator, butcher table, front line, pantry area, and then some. But I would like to remind you that I don't do windows. Or dogs. Sorry.

And a final not, we got a new beer on tap this week, for those that are interested. It is Mac & Jack's African Amber. This is one of my personal favorite beers. So I'm excited about that...

Hope you enjoyed and/or learned something from this rather large post. Happy December!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

TR Catering

Last night we had our first catering gig in our reception area upstairs. It was for a wedding reception with around 130 guests. We made linguine with roasted chicken and pesto, pork spring rolls, our house salad, and braised chicken with roasted parsnips. All the food went really quickly and there weren't any complaints that I heard. The wedding party was very grateful. It was pretty hectic and crazy for a while (they wanted the food to be served right around the dinner rush in the main dining area of the restaurant). Crazy busy! But we made it through with relatively few setbacks. I now have a small sense of how catering an event may work. I think next time we cater an event, we'll do better because we'll have more details and methods worked out. I'm kind of excited to do it again!

And a group of my friends came in for dinner last night. It was fun to see them, though I didn't get to chat too much because of how busy we were. But it was still nice to see them. Kind of made my day.



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kinda gross...

This week I learned how to clean out the deep fryer. Wow, gross.

First I drained all the old oil into a huge stockpot, then had to push and scrape all the sunken bits through the drain too. I had to use a bent-up clothes hanger to reach all the way down into the bottom of the fryer.

After emptying the stockpot into a HUGE oil drum outside (with help from my boss because the stockpot was way too heavy for one person), next came the buckets of hot soapy water, metal scrubber, and long Homer-Simpson-ish gloves. Scrubbing all the little bits off the sides of the fryer was gross, especially when one particularly stubborn piece came up and hit me in the face. Jerk of a tidbit!

After washing all the soapy water out and emptying the stockpot again, it was time to fill the fryer back up with fresh oil. The jugs of oil probably weigh around 25 lbs each, and it takes two full jugs to fill the fryer. Hooray!

But on the bright side, Chef J said that's the cleanest he's ever seen the deep fryer since we opened almost four months ago. On the other hand, he's been so impressed with my cleaning that sometimes I fear I'll become more of the cleaner/dish washer and less of the prep cook. Nah, I don't really think that'll happen...or at least I hope not...

And just in case you're wondering, I don't clean windows or bathrooms.

Have a happy holiday season!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

TR has a website!

My cousin found this before I did! Thanks!

Just letting you know.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Woah Lamb Shank

That's what I had for dinner tonight. A curry spiced lamb shank, with cannelini (sp?) beans and sauted kale. It was super good. It is one of the new items on our menu that came out yesterday. It's also one of the more expensive items... Still delicious, though.

Some of the other items looked really interesting as well. We have some items I've never worked with before, like swordfish, mahi mahi, scallops, muscles (insert no-muscles-for-me joke here), lamb, kale, swiss chard, tempora batter, marionberry compote, and other things that I can't think of right now.

Today I made the new crostada dessert (little pastries with a marionberry and apple topping) from start to finish. I also made the deep fried ice cream (tempora ice cream). Showing some faith in me, Chef J told me to make the springroll filling and the peanut sauce (for the chicken skewers); he never even came back to check up on me, and then he said "nice." That's a winner in my book. Oh, and I made the bread pudding yet again, and today's was probably the best one I've made. It looked soooooo good. Yum.

Anywho, I just wanted to share a few things, especially about our new menu items. Come on in and check it out!