I wanted to wait until I ate there, but I couldn’t wait any longer. We are going to Lola tonight for dinner!
I have started to explore cooking and baking again. Given my ‘bread slut’ status, my determined starting point was to be able to make a fantastic baguette. I have been reading everything in sight. I have the Culinary Institute of America’s ‘Baking and pastry : mastering the art and craft’. This is a massive tomb meant for the industrial chef. It uses all weights and baker’s ratios with batch sizes for professional kitchens. I am also using “Artisan Baking” by Maggie Glezer as a resource. I have made reasonable likenesses of baguettes before, but none that have been able to take my breath away. It’s strange I know, bread that takes your breath away, but it’s true. Crisp crust, soft chewy center, and flavor all combine till you want to close your eyes and focus on what’s in your mouth. Sorry I digress. My first attempt I decided to use the recipe called ‘Acme’s Rustic Baguettes’ from Maggie Glezer’s book. My dough turned out really wet. Throughout the recipe it continues to say don’t add flour, dough should be wet. Well it is wet, so wet I really have a hard time shaping it, it does not roll. I have to swoop and scrape with a pastry scraper. Figured this is the first time, follow the recipe. It does not look like the dough in the pictures of how to roll a baguette though. After proofing I have what to me appears to be a sorry excuse for wasting all that time. Well I am not going to throw it out now, ovens hot, let’s bake it. Scoring the top is hard as this dough is still very wet. Make a few cuts and in they go on the parchment paper they proofed on because I cannot get them off. I tossed a ¼ cup of water in the oven to get a touch of steam.
Set the timer then off to work on other more mandatory chores. Upon my return to the oven much to my surprise my baguettes don’t look half bad. They are brown and nicely round. This seems to me to be a strange twist of fate indeed. I pull them out and put them on cooling racks. The smell is heavenly, and the crackle off cooling loaves is a wonderful thing to behold.
After cooling down, I grab a loaf to give it the ultimate test; taste. It is not bad, as a matter of fact is damn good. I need to investigate this wet dough thing some more. Kids are arriving home now. They generally appease dad in his oft zealous cooking and baking endeavors. So the kids grab some bread and, with a surprised sort of tone mumble out of a full mouth, “this is really good”. I figured this was a good sign, but when my daughter asked me to only pack her a baguette, apple and bottle of water for school lunch the next day I realized I must have hit home run. To my even more astonishment, the next day when my son found out what his sister had in her lunch, complained he didn’t get the same thing. When both kids are asking for more of my bread;
I must have done something right.
We went early as we were due at a concert at 8:00, so we arrived at the lounge around 6:00 p.m. There was one other table, and two people at the bar. We had to wait for the hostess, eventually the bartender went off to find her. After a few minutes she came out and sat us at a table near the front windows. Wife sat on a booth bench next to the wall with pillows and was very comfy. Waitress tried to pour water then realized table was only half set. She related the story of their previous night didn’t end until 5:00 a.m. today and at that point probably didn’t care what the tables looked like.
We ordered a couple of drinks. Karen ordered a cosmopolitan and I ordered vodka straight with a twist of lime. Drinks came and we tried to order the shrimp spring rolls for an appetizer and she said they were out. Then said wait a minute, turned her head and shouted across the floor “Hey (forget the name) do we have shrimp spring rolls” he shouted back, “no”. Again, she turned to us and said, “no we don’t have those”. I realize I do look older, but do I really look old enough I could not hear the shouting match that just took place? I hope not. So we moved on and ordered the crispy spicy tuna and Hawaiian roll. We then sat and sipped our drinks. Karen was very happy with the taste of hers, but did say it was a bit weak. My vodka straight tasted like water. Now I am generally not an impatient man. I understand it takes time to make food. Looking around there were still only three other people in the restaurant, it took upwards of thirty minutes to get our sushi. I get faster service in an overbooked Vegas sushi bar.
When she finally showed up our first sushi order, we placed our drink and second sushi order figuring time might become an issue. This time I ordered a straight Vodka martini with a lime, Karen stayed with the cosmo as it seemed to hit the spot. Crispy tuna roll was very good. Crispy fried cut and presented in a tall martini glass, definitely our favorite sushi of the night. The Hawaiian roll was ok, but way too big to eat in one bite and way too messy to eat less then the entire piece. My wife did not like the large gob of tuna ‘paste’ on the top. I did not find it repulsive, but did not think the paste added much.
My wife wanted something for dessert. She looked at the menu and did not see anything, but asked the waitress if there was anything else. We were informed these were new menus and they didn’t have what was listed on there anyway. They and mocha ice cream and that is it. Much to her credit she came back later and said she could go look at Mallorca next door if we wanted her too. Next came the most rambling non-coherent description of a dessert tray I have ever heard. My wife heard tiramisu and was hooked. I ordered the #1, which was described as cheesecake like with various berries including blue berries, raspberries and maybe strawberries. Oh, and I would like a cup of coffee to go with dessert.
Dessert came, tiramisu was excellent. My ‘cheesecake’ was really a short torte cake with just a blueberry sauce. It was very good, but not what was described. My coffee came just as I finished my dessert.
I understand it was slow, and I get that the previous night was long, but service could have been better. Overall, we thought the sushi was good, but not outstanding. Drinks were tasty, but not sure they had alcohol in them. As a quick side note; the straight vodka with lime which tasted like straight water was more expensive then the martini, stick with the mixed drinks in our opinion. Price was not expensive overall and we did have a good time relaxing even with the idiosyncrasies.
I have no formal culinary training. My lack of training certainly does not stop me from being an aspiring foodie. When in high school I was in the right place at the right time. I was a bus boy at the restaurant located in Punderson State Park Manor house. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching and learning. I only periodically got in trouble for spending more time in the kitchen then at the bus station. Then the right time came, a little cooking disagreement between the head chef and his two assistants, and suddenly the head chef was the only cook left working. He offered me a thirty day trial in the kitchen and if it worked out would give me a fifty cent and hour raise. I was so happy I could have cared less about the raise. Well things worked out and I happily spent four years working as a cook. They liked it because they were paying me peanuts. I ended up working many nights were I was the only one in the kitchen.
I have finally achieved mid-life, which was a sad realization as I approached my 40th birthday. Statistically, my life is more then half over. I know some physiologist out there would place some grand value in the psychoanalytical benefits of writing down my inner most thoughts and displaying them to the public. My real hope is after putting them down electronically someday I can pull them together and write some great book that will sell millions and retire.
All information contained on in this blog will be my opinions, nothing more, nothing less. If I do use information from other sources I will do my best to reference them. I anticipate the information I babble on about on these pages will not contribute greatly to the body of knowledge on display on the internet. There is a certain amount of comfort in knowing many blogs should have the same disclaimer, and yet seem to forget it.