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Everything posted by girlcook

  1. Thanks for all the suggestions, and all the critiques are are situations I am well aware of. My chef wants them though even if we have to get them from Europe. If anyone has any actual sources for either the berries from Maine or I would be interested in sources from France and England but it has to be actual flats of berries, not the plants. Thanks again and all suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. Does anyone know of any growers of frais des bois that would ship flats to the east coast? Any information would be appreciated.
  3. I would go to August, on Bleecker st., and I am pretty sure they take reservations for large tables. They have one of the best brunches in town right now and it's really affordable at the same time. Lots of egg choices, chestnut filled pancakes, lunch style items and Viennese bellinis with apricot puree instead of peach. If not August then Balthazar is a really good choice.
  4. The best buffalo style wings are at The Back Page on the Upper East Side on 3rd Ave. They understand the ratio of sauce to crispiness and it is really rare that they have an off wing night.
  5. I am a bit hesitant to throw my 2 cents into the pot here as it has become rather vicious, but I can honestly say that if Martin could see this or have it translated for him to Spanish I think he would have a good laugh, and say we were all a bit nuts. Having been at Martin for the past 3 months I can say that he is a friendly man publicly with an affable demeanor. He is especially so when it is with someone he feels can scratch his back a bit. In all fairness though, most people are the same way and this is not necessarily a criticism. Martin and GC happen to have a very good rappor in the kitchen even with the lack of a common language and given certain favors I have done for Martin in English I happen to enjoy the same luxury of a good relationship with him. The thing is GC and I have both seen Martin do deplorable things in the kitchen, more personally than professionally, but terrible nevertheless. Perhaps these things speak more to his character as a man than as a chef but as they occur in the kitchen I cant imagine them not carrying over into the dining room a bit, be it through the food or the style of service which is being fostered. I am not writing this to be disparraging of Martin but only to say that when people have said Martin has hard and terrible working conditions my experience has been that that happens more in the context of stages working with the sous chefs not with MArtin himself. Martin rarely yells and is never rude but he does allow and somewhat enjoy an environment of hostility and anger within his own kitchen. Personally I would be very afraid to work there if I was a Spanish guy or especially a South American guy who had nothing more to offer than my two hands and a lot of energy; but shouldnt that be enough or more than enough for an unpaid stage? There has to be a bit of return on Martins part, more than a letter saying one worked there. The work itself is not all that hard as usually there is not enough work to go around. It all depends on the fluctuating number of stages at any given moment but no matter how busy we are or how many cooks we have around there is still never a lack of an air of hostility. What was I expecting when I came to Martin? Nothing more than I have been given, a lot of hard work, a chance to see some interesting food, my spanish improving 10 fold, the oppurtunity to eat in a lot of these Michelin starred restaurants around Martin and thats about it. Am I disappointed as I take my leave for the UK? Certainly not but if someone asked me where I thought they should stage in Spain I would be the last person to recommend Martin. The living conditions are horrible and unsanitary, certainly not fit for humans. Also unfortunately what I would not call the kitchen at Martin is a learning environment. Having worked with GC for the last few weeks I can honestly say that I think people have been a bit unfair to him here and taken his words a bit out of context. Martin knows he is a famous chef and behaves accordingly. GC is a funny, sarcastic guy and every word out of his mouth is not necessarily meant literally. Furthermore, anyone who has had the experience of spending time with the man professionally and not just dining as a client of his at his restaurant might not want to be so quick to criticise those who are actually spending almost every hour of every waking day with this man.
  6. I appreciate the amount of replies I have recieved as well as the sidebar on my illegal plans. All this leaves me with a few new questions as to what is the usually method in England of approaching chefs? Do people normally go to the restaurant with CV and letter in hand and request a moment of the chefs time at a slow hour or is it more common just to email or fax and follow up with a phone call? Again appreciate all the repies and apologize for getting some people so worked up.
  7. It´s not a snobbery thing so much as I also have to think about my CV when I present it back in the states. I am trying to stick to well known restaurants that the chefs I work for have some frame of reference for. In my experience a lot of times 3 and 2 don´t have all that much on the 1 stars and sometimes nothing but I do have a mutitude of considerations for my restaurant choices. I have reesigned myself to the fact that I will have to be paying for housing more or less. Any thoughts on personal favorites for restaurants food-wise that I would want to stage at. ANd any thoughts as to my question regarding finding wages regardless of how meager they may be. Thanks for the early responses. -girlcook
  8. Don´t know if anyone will have the answers I am looking for but what better place to look than egullet? Currently I am staging at a 3 star in San Sebastian, Spain and am looking to head to the UK for my next stage. I am a cook from the states and my preference is to find a place that offers a room in exchange for the stage or is in a town with affordable housing. If anyone has any thoughts on the matter or suggestions for restaurants that don´t have habitations but are worth spending the money on housing I would really appreciate it. At the same time my preference is to stay within the world of 2 and 3 star restaurants but am not bound by that preference. Also in the States it is not that difficult to find restaurant work, without papers, that pays, I was wondering if the situation was similar in the UK for cooks. While I can afford to stage without pay for awhile I would be able to stay longer and sample more of what the UK has to offer if I had a bit of income. Thanks for any and all advice.
  9. On a Monday night I would either go to Restaurante Matteo en Errenteria which is near Mugaritz or I think Fagollega or Zuberoa are open on Monday nights, have to check. Panier Fleuri is closed as the chef has brain cancer so unfortunately you have to scratch that off your list. Urepel is a bargain for the price but is very traditional basque cuisine. Also make your reservations ASAP as a lot is closed Monday night. Or go to La Cuchara de San Telmo for pintxos that night. The chef is a protege of Martin Berasategui and was actually the creator of the cremant his terrine of eel apple and foie gras. You won't be disappointed by the food there.
  10. As for who is eating at Martin I would agree that our clientele is mostly local with a good mix of french and english. There are a few Japanese but they are a minority. Martin does not speak a word os English and converses with most visitors in either Castellano or French. Staying in Donostia is probably more fun than staying in Lasarte and it puts you in a better position for eating at Arzak and Akelarre. There is one hotel very close to Martin called Hotel Ibiltze and it is clean and affordable and friendly. The ways to get to Lasarte are by taxi but I think taxis here are pricey. If I was having lunch I would take the bus or Euskotren and oncein Lasarte there is a sign on almost every block pointing towards Martin which is about a 5 minute walk. If I was having dinner I would make my reservation for 9:30 and take the train or bus there and a cab back to Donostia. For lunch I would say 1:30 is a good time for a reservation or at least for arriving and ordering post aperitivo around 2 is the way to go. Tomorrow am having lunch at Akelarre and am looking forward to seeing whats going on there now. The general consensus is that when it works it is amazing but sometimes he is just trying too hard to be avant garde and the food loses something on the plate. Will let you know. And as for the dress code, yes it is a bit surprising for starred restaurants to be so casual but that is just Spain and especially Basques, BCN is a bit more formal but not at all compared to Paris.
  11. Go to Ca'Sento definitely. And if you can get to Francisco Torreblanca pasteleria he makes the best chocolates in Spain. We use his chocolates in Martin and they are phenomenal. I would also try and go to El Poblet. Valencia and Alicante are fantastic places to eat and as I said for pastry there is none better than Torreblanco, equal but not better.
  12. Well a typical day at Martin starts at 9AM unless it's Wednesday when we start at half past 8 since we've been closed for 2 and a half days. 9 services a week and never more than 50 covers per service but there have been days where we only do 12 or 13 covers for a service. I've seen as many as 50 some odd people in the kitchen and right now we have about 30. It's Semana Grande so we are about to have our busiest week of the whole summer. Every station, there are 4, fish, meat, garde manger and pastry, has a sous chef and a chef de partie. Everybody else in the kitchen is a stagiere. The majority are from Spain but we have a few french guys, a japanese guy, ginger chef from the UK, I'm from the states and a bunch of argentinians. The majority of the stagieres live in Martin in what can at best be called modest accomodations. Bunk beds a few washing machines and dressers, thats about it. We have a bathroom with a few showers a sink and with 16 people using it, the living can leave something to be desired. The nice part is that it is impossible to be late to work and it is easy to get home as you only have to walk down two flights of stairs. Saturdays we are usually closed due to the fact that we do a large number of weddings at MArtin and it would be impossible to produce a service while a wedding was going on downstairs. Everybody spends the first week of their stage at Martin in weddings, during which you will clean more mussels than you have ever seen on your life. The kitchen is huge and full of windows and skylights. Right now cause it's August it makes it more or less feel like you are working in an oven yourself. I've heard it will be nice and cool in the fall and winter which at present I am looking forward to. The food in my opinion is rather influenced by France and a bit classical compared to say Akelare or Mugaritz or so on and so forth. A lot is rooted in traditional Basque cuisine but definitely influenced more by classical french technique, minus the butter and less by say Adria and a world of foams and air and etc... I've never worked in a kitchen where we used less butter and cream. Only in pastry do you find a quantity that seems relative to restaurant usage. Everybody here is a big fan of Michel Bras and you can definitely see the influence in the food. So far since I've been here which has been 2 months Juan Mari Arzak has been in for dinner as well as Jordi Butron and a few others. The kitchen is very open and people are passing through all the time to say hi or to have a drink or sit down and eat or watch a bit of TV. We have a TV in the kitchen more or less for the sous chefs and also for the cooks on the weekends. From the way it has been explained to me the menu only has one large change a year as people travel from far away and expect to eat the food they have read about. Fair enough but it is quite a different concept from seasonal market driven restaurants in the states and where we do different specials on any given night. For the summer fish got one new dish, meat got one mew dish and pastry got maybe 2, the rest of the menu stayed the same.
  13. bratt23, also if you´d like to come to Martin and stage for a day or two we have people come all the time and Martin is always asking me if I know any americans. You could stay as long as you like and there are places for you to sleep in the restaurant or there is a hotel nearby. So if you want to see the inside of a 3 star kitchen send me an email and tell me when you want to come. we just had a cook from Chicago come out for a day or two last week, Martin is very open about his kitchen and letting people in to see it.
  14. bux, ginger chef arrived last week and now I have bit of english speaking company in addition to all the spanish I am getting to practice. I moved over to the pastry section last week after two months on the fish station. The kitchen really is interesting and unlike any I´ve ever been in before. Pastry is quite fantastic as we do the amuse as well so we are the first to start and the last to end but as I don´t get the oppurtunity to do pastry in the states I am enjoying every minute of it. The chef de partie of pastry is truly amazing and quite talented so far working with him and only for a week has been more instructional than the 8 weeks on fish but then again the stations are designed completely differently and in pastry there is a lot more room for stages to do stuff. I am staying at Martin for at least 4 more months until they close in December, at which point I may go to Mugaritz, Can Roca, who can say or return to Martin. I would be happy to post more on the life at Martin but am unsure what it is you´d be curious to know...details about the food, menu changes, kitchen structure, Martin himself. I must say Martin is really nice and I am enjoying his kitchen and most of the people in it. It is definitely a huge kitchen and quite often you don´t even know a lot of peoples names unless they are in your partida/station.
  15. For Barcelona eating while Jean Luc Figueras is really great the place that I think is the most underrated right now is Abac. It is right around the corner more or less from Espai Sucre and the food is phenomenal. I highly recommend it and if you can take a drive I highly recommend El Cellar de Can Roca. Also another highly undervalued and underrated restaurant. The pastries there are sublime and the food is fantastic as well. They also happen to have one of the better sommeliers and wine lists in Spain. Also in BCN I would try Telaia del Mar. Of course Cal pep is good and you can even go before say a night at Espai Sucre as you can walk from one to the other and you won´t miss anything by not eating dessert at Cal Pep. If they have gambitas, the tiny shrimps with their heads still on definitely order them.
  16. For cookbooks from spain a good website to check out is www.libreriagastronomia.com
  17. Also I think if anyone gets a new star this year it will be Andoni Aduriz at Mugaritz. That is where I am heading for my next stage when I am done at MArtin.
  18. If I were you the one I would skip would definitely be Martin if what you are looking for is the cutting edge of Spain. Martin is pretty classical compared to the others and of all I like the dining room the least. Right now I am doing a stage at Martin and while I like the food a lot I would definitely choose to go to Mugaritz twice before I went to eat at Martin. For tapas in Donostia you should go to La Cuchara de San Telmo and for typical Basque cuisine Martins other restaurants are good Kursaal and right now the name of the other fails me. Have heard the restaurant in the Guggenheim is good but it is also part of Grupo Martin. Europa is supposed to be good and I will try and find some others and let you know. Don´t skip Akelarre or Mugaritz.
  19. Sounds like a fun trip. Right now I am doing a stage at Martin Berasategui which is in Lasarte-Oria very close to San Sebastian in Spain. Personally after having travelled around a bit and eaten are I would skip Italy more or less and start in England and work my way down to Spain. Contrary to what some believe I think you would be impressed with England and that they have a lot of exciting things going on right now. For France I would definitely eat at Pierre Gagnaire and if you can make it east go to L´arnsbourg and you won´t be disappointed. As classic Frech restaurants go I would choose Georges Blanc or go to Pic if you are curious about a woman chef. For Spain, Barcelona is a must: Abac should be first on your list as well as Espai Sucre, Cellar de Can Roca, and here I would definitely go to Mugaritz and Akelarre to eat. Those are all my top choices but obviously there are many more. If you had a car Asturias in the NW of Spain has some great restaurants and exciting things going on: Casa Gerardo, Casa Marcial, El Corral del Indianu. So if I had 4000 dollars and some free time that would be my trip more or less and you may want to think about not staying too long in Paris as it is financially draining, Barcelona is equally exciting though different culinary wise and a lot cheaper than paris.
  20. you should try the Ilo tidal pool. It's sea urchin, perbebes, olympia oysters in a bonito broth. There are also various seaweeds and mushrooms with fines herbes throughout. It's one of their signature dishes and it just returned to the menu for summer. sometimes they do stuff with urchin in the dining room at Tabla as a first course but the menu is forever changing so hard to say what's happening at present. GT does a really nice first course with urchin as well.
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