Monday, December 22, 2008

The Longest Day

While my fellow Canadians are celebrating the shortest day of the year, I find myself living the longest day.  December is always busy in our bistro. It's busy every where, but Friday seemed a little extreme.  At 4 O'clock our bistro was still full of lunch customers. Our first dinner guests sat down at the bar at 4:30.

My day usually begins at 11:30 when we switch on the open sign and unlock the front door.  (others on my crew start their day at 5am) But this last friday, by the time we opened we had already fed 25 ppl. We had a catered out a holiday luncheon to Concordia hospital.  Salmon with grilled vegetables, chicken and mushroom fusilli, fig and prosciutto sandwiches and a tray of Christmas dainties provided by Chocolate Zen Bakery (

Lunch started promptly at 11:30 and by noon the restaurant was full.  We had a really great lunch special of cocoa chili fettucinni (nature's pasta) with chorizo and shrimp.  This sold like crazy, we went through an entire case of noodles!  In addition to the pasta we dished out a silly amount of mussels, chicken sandwiches and croque madames. By 1:15 the first of our large groups celebrating christmas parties was beginning to arrive. I quickly ran down stairs to place a wine order. Although I had received what I thought was more than enough wine the day before, we had run out  of a number of labels. (I would have to do yet another order the next day.) Soon, the bistro was filled again with long tables of merry revellers. Back on the line, me and Ruben slammed out one table of 10 after another.  In the background, my nighttime cooks were scurrying around like santa's elves, trying to stay out of my way, yet needing to be ready for dinner. 

At 4:30, as I am sitting down for a brief pause, Clint comes down to tell me "it's started."

"are you ready?"
"so", I reply grudgingly, "I guess you need me to do these orders?" So I found myself back on the line, clean jacket and apron, ready to go all over again.

The restaurant fills up quickly. We kick it into high gear and pop out a dizzying amount of food in what felt like record time. At 8:15, everyone is fed and we are waiting to clear the back half for the Christmas party that has already started to arrive.  With a momemtary pause in the barrage of orders coming in, I grab clint and ruben and my wife and we run across the street for a much deserved, and hastily quaffed, pint from Luxalune.

Then we are back into it. Appetizers and mussels for the big party, apps followed by dinners for the rest of the restaurant, salads and soups for the big party, more new tables up front, mains for the big party, a few more tables turn up front...

Clint looks at the clock, "it's 11:30". We laugh, I am geared up for one more turn, but sadly, the longest day is done.

Cocoa Chili Fettucinni with shrimp and chorizo.

1 lb cocoa chili fettucini from Natures' Farm (or any other fettucinni)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
2 chorizo sausages (or other hot sausage), sliced
1 onion diced
1 red pepper diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
a pinch (to taste) of dried chilies
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato diced
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

1. boil pasta
2. saute onions and peppers in oil, add chorizo.
3. add shrimp, garlic and chilied and saute until shrimp is opaque.
4. add stock and bring to a boil
5. add cream, check for seasoning. Toss pasta in sauce. Toss in diced tomato. 
6. serve topped with grated cheddar


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