Saturday, November 14, 2009

King of the Oysters

So last week was the final week of good friend and roommate Juan Carlos from Mexico. Up to this week, he was in charge of the oyster dish that I have alluded to several times; up to this week, my triumphs were encapsulated by applying the sauce during plating without getting bitch-slapped across the kitchen by Sany; up to this week, I was still a very, very minor part of the dish (roughly 10% contribution).

This week is different.

With the opening left by Juan Carlos' departure, someone was going to be assigned to pick up the slack on the oysters. True to form, Sany made no such declarations, but allowed the first few days of the week to be something of a free-for-all. When it was time to prep, she doled out random oyster responsibilities at will. When it was time to plate, she either asked whoever was closest or let someone try to jump in. Seeing that the position was apparently to be won as if it were a Surge commercial (anyone else remember that soda and those commercials?), I kicked my ass into gear. Today marked, to put it as dramatically as possible, my arrival at the mountain peak.

I have been put officially in charge of the dish, which means I did it perfectly, and did so enough times to prove to Sany that she can trust me (and Sany trusts people about half as far as she can shotput them). I prep the mis en place, I set things for service, I plate, I keep track of the orders, it's all me. And today I even had to train a new guy in all things oyster related... and might I add, I actually did so with patience, and with appropriate explanation when necessary. Imagine that! Using words and gestures to communicate my instructions instead of disgusted faces and curse words! Best of all, service went off without a hitch (on a pretty busy day), and there were even a few times I caught mistakes Sany didn't. Yahoo for me!

Okay, I realize that I may be making a slightly bigger deal of this than it actually is. After all, as I've previously mentioned, the oyster dish is pretty damn simple. But the way I see it, this blog should be at least somewhat entertaining, and we all know how much Johnny loves a good story full of drama and superlatives, so forgive me if I overly vivify an otherwise mundane course of events (BEST OYSTER PLATER EVER!!!). Moreover, to earn any ground in the land of Sany actually is a pretty big deal, and this marks the furthest I've come since I started with her; it's like getting promoted by the Soup Nazi.

Anyway, big deal or not, I am a happy camper. And to be honest, I was getting really bored with the complete lack of responsibility; having to stand around and wait for a single task all throughout service was making me want to shove the oyster shucker into my eye. At least now there's some multitasking required and I feel somewhat more engaged.

By the way, if anyone's interested, Julia is kicking ass in Tuscany! The white truffle festival starts in her town this weekend and the restaurant is booked solid for like three weeks. I spoke to her today and she had that wonderful Julia energy that comes from being just on the brink of overwhelmed but not there yet, and loving every minute of it. She's also working part time some mornings in a little cafe doing random cooking tasks: butchering wild boar, making sandwiches, baking pastries, whatever's around. She's fully settled in, and though living alone in a tiny town isn't easy, she's making the best of it. Best of all, she comes to San Sebastian next weekend for my birthday!

Alright, it's almost time for dinner service; time to don my apron and play with some more oysters. No sweat, right? Less than a month left here; can't say I'm sad about that, but I'll be making the best of the next few weeks.

Till next time... Viva las ostras!

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