Man Date

Official Man-Date June 2010.  Last night Dan arranged an amazing meal and night out for Tanner and I.  At 7:45 we piled into a cab and headed across town in a cab over to Chelsea, where we were dumped out at the base of a large set of stairs.  As it turns there is an amazing raised park that runs through Chelsea and into the West Village called Highline Park!  The city has converted the old raised train tracks that ran through that part of town into a beautiful green walkway.  The architecture, foliage, and view is incredibly stunning!  As you wander through the raised park you get to take in the city all around, the river a block away with sailboats skimming by, and you are surrounded in lush flowering plants, it is surreal!

After this wonderful and appetite inducing walk suspended amid the city we descended once again to ground level the the front door of our next dining adventure, Colicchio & Sons.  Tom Colicchio is the owner of the Craft Restaurants, Founder of Gramercy Tavern, and the Head Judge on Top Chef!  I have been trying to eat at one of his restaurants for ages, almost as to size up his expertise in order to better understand his critiques of the Top Chef contestants.  Dan had made reservations at Colicchio & Sons for us, and had also prepared a three bottle wine tasting, for which Tanner had the corking fee waved since he began his culinary exploits at Gramercy Tavern with Tom Colicchio.  The space at the restaurant was amazing!  A towering ceiling and enormous space which is divided in the center by a two story glass wine cellar, separating the lounge from the main dining room.  Huge two story floor to ceiling windows overlook the river.  The decor is modern but not obnoxious.  Just a really cool place.

Colicchio & Sons

We began with a glass of champagne in order to toast to a guys night out, and the dove into our tasting.  Dan had sought out three vintages of the same wine in order for us to do a vertical tasting, Hanzell 07,06, and 05. Amazing wines on there own accord, but such a cool thing to taste the different years right next to each other!  Obviously similar, but shockingly different.  Really great wines.  As we tasted we scrounged our way through a couple of course, Ricotta Ravioli with morels; Halibut with Artichokes, being my choices.  Capping everything off with a great cheese plate. It was a fabulous three hour meal.  It feels so nice not to be rushed, and to savor every bit of your meal.  Also interesting is the attention you give your food when you start to think about having to recreate something like it someday, I now over scrutinize everything.

Our table was just a field of wine glasses.

After we left the restaurant we caught a cab back to the East Village for a night cap at a new bar Summit.  Great cocktails and beer selection.  As we sat down to enjoy our negronis and something infused with coca leaves… we were browsing through the menu and found out that they exclusively sell Dan’s salami!  Suddenly Dan was a celebrity to the staff behind the bar, and proceeded to take shots with the owner.  After that we had all had far too much to drink and headed on our way back home.  All and all it was truly a phenomenal summer night out with the guys.

Here are some last pictures for you that we took somewhere on our walk home.  Tanner found a tree that he liked and had me take a couple of pictures of it, and for some reason everything seemed to come together to produce these.  How it happened I have no idea.

Insane Night Willow Pictures.

Tanner and his Tree.

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Do you have an early bird special?

Hola! Que Tal, faithful followers of the Willey?  Just a quick update on a few things!  First and foremost, Shannon and I have switched our cell phone service over to AT&T in order to finally get our grubby little hands on the fable “iPhone” but in order to do this I had to give up my phone number.  So within about a week I will be spreading out my new number to you all!  Shannon’s number will stay the same. So keep you eyes open for that.

On a very different note, we once again are immersed in the wonderful sport of Futbol! World Cup has once again taken over our TV’s and I couldn’t be happier.  Now we don’t actually own a TV so we are forced to find a good spot to watch the games, but more often than not we find ourselves in a bar being suffocated by unruly fans egging their teams on.  Yesterday was no exception and at 9 AM I found myself in a bar in Brooklyn enjoying breakfast which included 2 eggs, potatoes, toast, coffee, and a beer all for 6 bucks.

Red Star in Brooklyn.

It is a blast getting up and meeting some friends in a bar to kick off the day, the fact that the games were great also didn’t hurt!  England and US heading into the bracket means a lot of soccer coming up over the next few weeks.    I do have one somewhat separate goal for watching the England play in the cup, Peter Crouch has to score a goal.  Watch out for me on the field playing for England.

After the game in the morning and then work all day Shannon came to meet me in the early evening for a light dinner.  Being 95 years old we have taken to eating dinner at 5

Natori Sushi

o’clock, and for as cheap as possible.  We try and seek out early bird specials an indulge in premium food for a low cost.  AKA the Natori Sushi special.  Shan and I hit up the first in our run of discount eating at a risky trial: Sushi.  We got wind of an awesome special which includes Miso Soup or Salad, Sushi Rolls, Sashimi, or Udon Noodles, and cold sake or beer!  Upon hearing this news we instantly vacated our immediate premise in order to enjoy this delicious opportunity before it expired at the time of 7 pm.  We showed up and planted ourselves outside in there extensive 1 table patio, and ordered this:

Fresh Spread.

Turns out to be delicious and shall enter onto our “Where to Dine on a Budget” list.  Following the same theme we then scooted over to my location of employment and indulged in some expertly crafted libations.  We have the coolest and most talented bar tenders to hit the scene.  We ended with these creations:

Lawn Dart, Lion's Tooth

Nothing too exciting happening other than that.  My sister got her new job at Pure Food and Wine, and everything seems to be going well there.  Dan continues his quest for wine knowledge with a tenacity few could rival, and much to the benefit of those who he kindly continues to introduce new wines to.

More to come as usual.  Keep checking in!

Chef Willey!

Just got in my official chef whites!  These guys won’t be this color for long, so I wanted to somewhat immortalized their beginning beauty!  This is my official chef jacket and knife kit.  I have three of these jackets along with three sets of beautiful black and white checkered pants, and three really good looking hats.  In the knife kit is everything you would ever need to cook with.  Most importantly, as seen below, are the lovely knives.  While these knives aren’t the most stellar knives you would ever want to cook with they are still stunningly sharp.  Someday soon I hope to upgrade my chef knife to a Misono UX10 9.75′ uber knife.  Below the knife compartment are 3 more levels of spoons, whisks, pepper mills, melon ballers, measuring devices, spatulas, needles, and much much more.  It is pretty amazing carrying this case through a crowd, kind of a “if you only knew” kind of feeling.  Anyways, I am going to spend all day practicing my knife skills on 40 lbs of potatoes, anyone for need some cocottes of potatoes?

Clean!

Got a break we can catch?

Finally the update I wanted to give!

Culinary School.

For the last 2 Months I have been working with the French Culinary Institute to find a way for me to attend.  I have always been drawn to culinary school and now that I have been in touch with the food industry in so many capacities I know that’s where I am headed.  As soon as I made the decision to attend school I began to attempt to secure the financing to enroll.  Turns out this is not exactly an easy thing!  Now, I have very good credit, but if you have lived in a new state for only 3 months, and have only been employed at your job for 1 month… good luck getting a loan, even a student loan.  The lovely people at FCI have been trying every single avenue to give me the opportunity to attend, and finally we thought we had the answer: one small loan, and a 20k scholarship!  SO once we had assumed that I had secured financing I enrolled and began classes!

What an amazing thing it has been so far!  I bundle up in my entire ensemble of chef’s attire and march down to Soho every other night.  It is amazing the layers of clothing I wear in those 85-90 degree kitchens…. chef’s coat (embroidered with my name), t-shirt, check pants, apron, hat, neckerchief, clogs… Quite the outfit.  I also lug around with me my whole suitcase of knives and tools!  Honestly there is something hilarious to me about carrying around a suitcase of knives right through the bustling crowds on Broadway.

Day One: We did not mess around when starting class.  Our Chef Instructor: Chef X (Xavier) is a feisty and driven Frenchman, and is a firm believer in results and not wasting time.  We picked up our knives almost instantly and began to learn every single french vegetable cut that we would ever need, all the while Chef X is walking around criticizing our lack of skill, 20 mins into our first ever class.  It was an eye opening first day, and honestly quite reassuring, because it became apparent that we were there to learn and not be coddled.  It is extremely nice to know that you were going to get your moneys worth of education, there simply is no fluff involved.

Day 2,3,4,5: Everything is going so fast!  After stumbling through day one and barely escaping with all of my fingers I buckled down and made sure I was prepared for all of the upcoming classes.  We have amazing text books which I have been pouring over in order to make sure I am ready for classes.  As it turns out I am one of the least experienced chefs in the class, but with every single dish we cook I am able to prove myself to our chef and classmates.  I may not be extremely versed in technique but when I cook, I can cook!  It feels so good to be challenged, and every single minute of class is exhilarating and a learning experience.  I am absolutely in love with creating something with my hands, and being allowed to show a little creativity.  Chef X’s militant instruction has eased slightly towards the students who have shown to be committed and competent, and already I feel the class has formed into the classic kitchen brigade helping each other out in order to put out great food and gain good results.  Learning learning learning… I feel like my brain is going to be saturated in no time.

It has been pretty challenging working 50 hours a week, and then Monday, Weds, Friday nights spending 5 more hours on my feet in the kitchen, but man it has been exciting.  It is that kind of satisfying exhaustion that I have mentioned on here before.  Feeling tired for a good reason feels so validating.  It feels so great knowing that the effort you put in is returned to you.  Although sometimes I feel like Shannon is going to forget what I look like.

I am now convinced that this is a very worthwhile endeavor, worth the price, the time, and effort.  I will absolutely be able to call on these skills to succeed in the culinary industry.  On that note, it is going to have to wait.  As it turns out the scholarship didn’t work out.  Instead the financial offices attempted to rig together a systems of loans to make the money available for me to attend, but in the process created such high monthly payments that I will be unable to afford going.  So.  I have had to withdraw (hopefully temporarily) from school.

The plan is to work, work, work… save save save.  Hopefully over the next year I can put away enough money to make the payments I need to attend school.  It is hard to get a little taste like this, like a teaser trailer, but I think it will keep me fueled and pumped up to achieve that ultimate goal.

I don’t know what this may entail or where to start, but I am determined to continue my culinary education outside of the classroom.  I hope to find a chef or organization to mentor me so that I can gain more and more experience.  It may come down to me simply going through the text books they gave me page by page until I learn every single term and technique in it.

Anyways, Shannon is going to start at FCI soon!!!!  We ultimately are both going to be the ultimate knife wielding duo!  Shannon starts there in a few weeks, and I after getting to know the school I am so excited for her to dive in!  She is going to rule the pastry scene!  I am going to have breads, cakes, chocolates, candies, and everything wonderful that ever grace an oven come pouring into my home… world get ready for Tristan the 6’6″ 650 lbs behemoth.  I will let you know how her adventure goes when it kicks off, and how my belt line is fairing.  I am a little sad not to be there with her, but with some time and maybe an extra job, we’ll get there.

So that’s what has been on our plate out here for the last 2 months.  It has been quite the roller coaster.  Hopefully we can sort everything out over the next year…

My sister is here owning New York.  She has apparently decided to rule the city and secured a job at Pure Food and Wine, a really cool raw food restaurant that attracts all of the biggest names in the city.  She has seriously just showed up here, landed and her feet, and just hit the ground running.  It has been a blast having her here.

Upwards and onwards from here.