Oct 20, 2011

When the Garroxta Gotcha, or Tales Out of Leftie Field!

I read in one of my many cheese books (all apologies to the author, I can't remember which), that sooner or later it happens to everyone at the cheese counter. That mother of all cuts. Not a casual knick and a curseword. No, a Monty Python gusher of a flesh wound, with all the accompanying woozy spells...

Well, as the saying goes, s**t happens! S**t happened to me last night. I got, 'the cut.' That this had to happen in the restaurant kitchen of my friend, a chef and restaurateur, treating us to an informal private pre-opening dinner, was, well, humiliating! Yes, we watched as my pride left the building, preceding my fall from competence. As it happens, Cat Stevens was wrong, the first cut is not the deepest. The first cut was a graze. This was deep! Deeper than the pile of metaphors I'm burying myself in!

I tried to brush off how awful I felt - dizzy, woozy, slightly nauseous. All caused by the sudden loss of pride, not the amount of blood (which was impressive), or cabin pressure. My friend the chef, already a little crazy (in a talented, creative wild man kinda way!), is made crazier by the fact, that after months of hiking up the mountain of obstacles to open his new restaurant, he now sits in that elevated plateau of rarified air, weeks away from opening, and subject to zealous bursts of oxygen and sleep-starved creative energy. I should have known better than my poor choice of joke intended to lighten the load of my humility and put the focus back where it should have been - his food and the restaurant. You see, this idiot (me) thought it appropriate to offer my copiously pumping blood as paint somewhere in the building. I think he actually wanted to do it! Oh, my poor attempt at humor gets worse. Me, noticing the chorizo that Chef friend has made, quips, "Well you could always use the blood for a blood sausage." This consequently steals the thunder from his presentation of the blood sausage he is about to show us. Still, everyone forgets later when they tuck into the sausage. Why do I not notice when I'm the only one laughing at my jokes?

Spouse stepped in, not in that 'lick of the handkerchief soothing maternal way.' No, more in that, "I'll knock you into the middle of next week if youse two don't stop your whining, don't make me come in there" kinda maternal way! Spouse tells me to stick my arm in the air, suck it up and eat. We'll stop at the E.R. on the way home because, "It would be rude to leave now since Chef friend had gone to all this trouble!"

While spouse sits knocking back the wine (whine), Chef friend, also a volunteer firefighter, saves my thumb by using an elastic band to tournaquet; then goes back to the quarter pig roasting, while simultaneously attending to the blood sausage and chorizo he'd made by hand! My hero, I swoon (lack of blood)!

So, what culinary crime did I commit to earn my badge of shame cut? I offered my help. I was delegated the cheese board to prepare. Distracted by chatting, I reached for a different knife, so that the Colston Basset Stilton knife would not contaminate the Garroxta I needed to cut next. I did not even notice that instead of a ten inch chefs knife, I had grabbed a ten inch paring knife. It gets better! I used the knife upside down. When I sliced down with all the pressure I knew appropriate to slice a wheel of rinded Garroxta, the blade sliced me, and the cheese was merely tickled by the top side. I swear I heard it chuckle as the knife bit to the knuckle! You see, the Garroxta (prounounced gah-ROTCH-ah), well, it gotcha!

What have I learned? Well, Jack Byrnes (Robert DiNiro) was right. It's all about, "opposable thumbs" (Gregory). Having one out of commision has turned me into a leftie, wondering how the heck I'm going to, "Suck it up" and live to serve Milton Farmers Market with cheese tomorrow! One has to laugh! One has to open that book on knife skills I got for my birthday, and quit relying on Top Chef to learn cutting technique!

The cheese I featured in this article were Garrotxa, and Colston Basset Stilton. For more information, on Garroxta, click here, for Colston Basset Stilton, click here.

Who is my Chef friend? For those who know spouse and I well, you can probably guess. I won't divulge yet though. Chef has a great new concept, authentic, of its time and place, and unique in our area (at least for now - imitation will be the sincerest form of flattery). He is so close to opening, I do not want to steal his thunder. All I can say is I've had a glimpse of how the space will appear. Impressive! We've enjoyed more than a glimpse of the food. Yes, it gets our, "We Know Yum" stamp of approval. Rustic with a sophisticated twist, and delicious!


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