Moonshine and Mousse

It is hard to remind yourself that sometimes when there is nothing particularly spectacular going on it doesn’t mean that you are being stagnant.  After a whirlwind year of constant adventure the slower times can seem a little unproductive and often leave me very restless at the end of a day focusing on what I am not doing rather than what I am headed towards.  Luckily both Shannon and I have the luxury of working  in the industry we want to end up in allowing us to gain experience while working on other projects on the side.  Every now and then it is nice to get little reminders that things are moving forward.  Last night my sister and I headed down to SoHo for a dessert sitting at the French Culinary Institute featuring our very own Chef Shannon Tebay and her pastry class peers!  Over the past few months it has become all too obvious that Shannon has a knack for pastry.  She has translated a talent for art, a precise hand, and seemingly limitless creativity into edible delights which constantly fill our fridge.  Night after night I get to indulge in tarts, trifles, and truffles and I have yet to stop being impressed, but to go and see Shannon in her element at the helm of a professional kitchen serving fine dining quality plates is another level of awe all together.  Shannon’s Creme Yvette Mousse dessert was supremely decadent, and an awesome reminder of what she has accomplished in such a short time.

Producing something physical, whether it is a beautiful dessert or a barrel of bourbon, is a nice way to remember that you are actually working towards a goal.  When I am not sure what it is I am actually doing in New York I find that wandering through the room where our bourbon barrels are stacked at the distillery reminds me of results that you can’t actually see come to fruition.  The reason I originally sought out work in a distillery was an infatuation with the lore and legend of every single bottle of single malt I have ever tasted, seen, or know of.  Every single bottle of spirit was tended to with great care by some one for years just so that I could enjoy it for a moment.  4… 10… 12… 21 YEARS of work went into a small bottle of alcohol.  You can’t help but admit that the knowledge of someone watching over that very drop of liquid in your glass somewhere across the planet over a decade ago doesn’t make it infinitely more precious.  It’s the thought that someone might scrutinize or romanticize an unknown random bottle of the bourbon that I make at the distillery that makes me care about every single step of everyday of work.  Hopefully I can imbue as much history and care into my bottles I as get from the spirit I myself enjoy.

Lately we have been getting quite a lot of attention from local, national, and international media.  It is flattering to find our bottle popping up in places I would have never thought to find them, thank you J. Crew.  Most recently we had a TV crew from Tokyo do a story about us for the local news:  I thought you might enjoy the clip, so here is our distillery from a different sounding point of view:  Click Here To Watch!

For everyone back home here is a real look into the distillery and our products, just click each link to take a look:

Video Tour!

Cool Pictures

 

Here are some pics from the new (yet to be named) place, unfortunately I was unable to hold the camera still… not sure what was going on there.  Hopefully I will be able to dig up some good pictures of Shannon’s supreme dessert work in the next couple of days!

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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!

Consistency!

So I have been up and down about what to put up on this blog, whether I should include only the PG rating or even the PG-13!  Shown below in drastic juxtaposition:

PG

PG-13

Should I write about simply what we have been up to or should I venture into the realm of the philosophical lessons we take away from all of this?  My answer to this has not by any means been consistent and directly correlates to my mood, and thus we have another more emotional sided post.  Maybe I can star them so that you can skim…

There is one reason we came to NY: Experience.  Yes Shannon was in school, and yes I had a job out here, but ultimately we both knew that the real goal of heading out into a new part of the world was to begin to open up our eyes to new experiences.  As soon as we arrived in the city we wasted no time hunting down adventures and seeing what we could possibly see!  It was amazing.  As time passes ultimately real life sets in and you have to focus on progress and actually being real people.  After awhile you remember that this isn’t a vacation and you are actually living in this new place.  Lately this realization has been a real struggle for me.  Suddenly with art school out the window and my job down the drain it was starkly apparent that we weren’t heading anywhere, but simply residing.  Shannon is phenomenal about talking my head out making this a problem, about showing me that we are still living in a new city full of opportunity, but I still feel so antsy!  What is it we are doing?  What can we be tackling right now?  I seem to always want to be asking this question.  Hopefully soon I can sort out this mess with student loans and begin my culinary training, but until that time I hope I can wrench from my head this frightful stagnant feeling.  I have only been here 4 months for heavens sake!

It is funny writing about these things in a blog post.  It really makes me step back from everything I thought I might include in here and say, “you know it really isn’t that bad when it might be scrutinized by other people.”  I sit down so frustrated, brooding over my long day, and what seems like constant misfortune, but at the end of the day I have a fridge of great food to whip up, netflix to watch, and a great bottle of wine to enjoy.  Sure I have now included Two Buck Chuck under the category “great” but I’m sure I can redefine my categories again in a few months!

We are going to continue to battle every curve ball thrown at us out here and turn it into a new opportunity.  Heck Shannon and I both work at world renown places, and we can pay our rent every month.  I have only seen about 1/100th of the area around me. and so we will go forth and adventure more!!!

Here is a picture of one of our new favorite places: BUA

BUA!

Crazy Sky. View from the fire escape.

I didn’t want those taste buds…

Last night Shannon and I got to head down into Soho to the French Culinary Institute {FCI} to watch a demonstration by their head of school and a world leading food scientist, then Shannon and I split ways to sit in on a pastry and culinary course, and then were ushered down to dinner in their restaurant.  It was an extremely interesting night!

The Demonstration was incredible.  We sat in there auditorium while two of the head chefs blew our minds.  We first were given a cup of a crushed up herb, shady I know, and told to swish it around our mouths.  As it turns out the herb contained a chemical in it that temporarily blocks off the taste of any sugars on the tongue!  We were them given a plate of various items to taste and explore how taking away sugar from something would effect it.  On the plate were things like: a strawberry, skittle, packet of sugar, cookie, marshmallow, blackberry, chocolate, etc.  It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever experienced.  The marshmallow felt like chewing on foam, and was absolutely flavorless.  There was just no flavor in my mouth.  The strawberry and blackberry alike were super sour.  The chocolate was just that creamy texture in my mouth without any flavor present at all.  The packet of sugar might as well have been sand.  It was truly bizarre.  Luckily over time the presentation moved on, and our taste buds revived themselves.  Throughout the rest of the presentation we covered new sciences and their applications in the cooking world.  For example: Meat Glue.  A compound that has the ability to bond ANY two proteins together on a molecular level.  It actually makes them into the same item.  You could bond soy beans to buffalo meat if you wanted.  We used it in the demo to bond prosciutto around hamachi tuna, for the purpose if it not coming undone during cooking and ease of cutting.  We created liquid nitrogen ice cream.  Used vacuum chambers to pickle onions in 30 seconds.  Played with various mushroom cooking methods for the best results.  Everything.  It was all extremely fascinating, and delicious.

The class was incredible.  I spent 2 hours in class with some of the lower levels students who were learning to create: rice puddings, risottos, gnocci, and ravioli from scratch.  It was actually extremely impressive.  The head chef was on everyone, blasting technique and method into all of them.  I saw a little bit of talent in that kitchen and whole lot of sweating and frantic people who were in way over their heads.  I am not sure they are going to like where they find themselves when they pop out of that class, it was obvious that none of them had been near a restaurant kitchen before.  It was really reassuring for me to see this in action, mainly because I feel like I must have a head start on most of these cooks.

Dinner was great considering the price!  We had a 5 course prix fixe menu.  1: Smoked Salmon with fennel puree  2: striped sea bass over artichoke hearts and buckwheat crepes  3: Lamb over mushroom ragu with garlic mashed potatoes  4: Digestive salad of iced ricotta with lemon, frisee, balsamic, and crushed pistachios  5: a trio of pot de cremes (carmel with sea salt, chocolate with candied orange peal, dark chocolate with hazelnut and coffee)  and a cheese board.  All accompanied by a bottle of French Malbec.  It was all pretty good!  The students from the upper two levels of the culinary classes prepare the food for the restaurant, and everything came out great!

After gorging ourselves, we strolled the mile walk home, and chatted about what is coming up next.  Result:  No idea.  We both are so conflicted about what to do right now.  If anyone has any ideas, we could use some input.  Anyways, that’s our culinary adventure up until this point!  Here are some pictures from the demo:

The Distant Future?

Hello All!

One of my favorite things about NY, and least favorite, is that you walk everywhere.  Least favorite only because I love driving.  Now that the weather is on the ups, let’s not talk about how it’s 90 degrees today, we have been on our feet everywhere.  Last night we were once again in a mood about what the heck we are doing with our lives so we decided to seek out some new sights on foot.  First we hit a little store front that only sells mini cupcakes.  It is just a counter in a small room that only has hundreds of mini cupcakes of every flavor.  We took these to a park bench and enjoyed.  (The people watching here is phenomenal)  After that we sought out the best Fish and Chips in NYC!  Except we both decided that even Two Fools in the ‘Burque was better.  Luckily the fish and chips shop was on the edge of Greenwich Village, our new future home.  So as the sun set we wandered down the cobble stone streets… peered into the beautiful little restaurants… flowers were blooming on trees… and birds were chirping and singing… an all too perfect moment.  This small haven in the middle of Manhattan is bizarre!  But it is the first place where I think I actually enjoyed be able to relax and stroll, it looks like a scene cut straight out of London.  Now I only have to round up a couple of million dollars to buy a townhouse!

This afternoon Shannon and I are heading down the street to the French Culinary Institute where we are going to sit in on a professional demonstration of new cooking techniques.  After we watch the demo we are going to sit in on some classes, and then they are treating us to dinner at their restaurant!  I will fill you in on how that goes!

Here are some pictures from our walk…

Shannon in front of our funky beat up door.

Can you spot it? Haha, the tile on our landing.

Shelves of Cupcakes

Our selections

This is a two for one shot. That's the empire state building inside the arc. Double points.

Found this... in the middle of the park.