I woke on Friday morning to find that the weather was doing exactly what it did my first day of work: wet, snowy, slick, and cold. This isn't typical for mid-October but we are, after all, in New England. The snow came down even harder this afternoon -- Dave and I watched from our living room as the Pats slid all over the field tromping the Titans on a snowy Sunday. Friday ended up being a wash. We got to the harbor and watched the sailboats bob sideways while Berg and Greg bounced out in the bay on Morris's boat in the rain only to find that they couldn't land on the float. The waves were too high for us to be out there so we ended up at the shop working on some farm-gear upkeep for most of the morning.
This time of year is tricky for the crew. We're all anxious to get the seed planted and get our cages out of the water but with the weather last week, we only made it out on the tide once. We did manage to get a solid night of celebration in - we finally had our crew outing in the city. The guys all took a limo up from Duxbury; Catie and Maggie met us after work/school; and Eva took the train up from Brown. We started at Post 390 for a couple beers and oysters and then moved on to Toro where we ate incredibly well: foie gras with pear chutney, roasted bone marrow, garbanzos with chorizo, smoked duck legs, our oysters with a citrus-y foam, kobe burgers, paella, and of course, a perron of cava.
We ended up at Eastern Standard telling stories and laughing uncontrollably. As always, it was a wild night out with the crew - one we definitely needed after all that hard work this summer (thanks, Skip).
We've got some work ahead of this week but I'll be taking a short break from the farm to head to Chicago with Matthew. We're going out for the Shaw's Crab House Royster with the Oyster this Wednesday where we'll check out the ChicaGourmet's Hall of Fame dinner and spend a few days doing sales calls. The guys at Island Creek are always part of the event (they're serving our oysters on Thursday night at the Goose Island beer dinner) and we're looking forward to seeing our bud Rowan Jacobsen along with (hopefully) some other oyster notables.
And now, the really good news. I just got word that on Nov 12, I'll be heading down to NY to stage at Per Se (talk about burying the lede here). We very kindly asked chef Jonathan Benno if I could come down for an afternoon and watch as Thomas Keller's famed New York restaurant prepares one of its signature dishes, Oysters and Pearls ... which just happens to include Island Creek Oysters. Thankfully, he's agreed. We had a visit from one of the restaurant's chefs this summer (it was part of a couple-week long educational program where the chef went around the country stopping at Per Se's various purveyors to work for a few days); I'm looking forward to retrieving the favor by spending a day with chef Keller's kitchen staff. I'll be trailing the fish butcher and at the canape station plus I'll get to hang out for a bit during service. Skip and Shore will head down with me to do a pre-meal presentation for the staff and later that night, the three of us will sit down for dinner (my first at Per Se).
I'm trying hard to contain the nerves that comes with something like this. For any chef, spending the day in Per Se's kitchen is a treat. For a non-chef, oyster farming writer (that would be me) it's just plain unexpected. Since learning about Island Creek's relationship with Thomas Keller's restaurants, I've been salivating over the idea of getting into the kitchen to see what they do with our oysters. After all, the whole point of spending this year on the farm was to watch an ingredient go from seed to table. Finally, after months of nurturing, planting, harvesting, and handling our tasty oysters, I get to see what happens to them in the hands of one of the country's most revered chefs. And then, more incredibly, to taste them while sitting alongside the guy who grows them.
Not bad for a girl on an oyster farm. Right?