Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Saying adiós to summer...

Ocean Pines Beach Club

Yesterday we returned from our weekend visit to the Maryland seashore. It was nice to get away from the stifling heat and humidity. I never realized how much of a luxury California summers can be, until I moved to New York. Growing up on the Central Coast we rarely experienced oppressive heat waves or any real change in seasons for that matter. You almost take the beach and the ocean for granted when you live in California.

El Galeon (Spanish Replica Ship)

While we were in Ocean City a Spanish replica ship called "El Galeon" was docked at the inner harbor. Lucas had fallen asleep in his car seat, so I had to keep my sight seeing short while Matt stayed with him in the car. Unfortunately I didn't take very many pictures since I was in a hurry, but being on board the ship did bring back memories of our August trip to Spain a couple of years ago.

Bay of La Concha, San Sebastian

I was a couple months pregnant at the time, and we decided to spend a few days in Barcelona and San Sebastián before the end of summer. The sights and sounds of the Catalonia and Basque regions were intoxicating. There is this unmatched appreciation for family, food, and leisure that you rarely find anywhere else in the world.

La Boqueria, Barcelona

In retrospect I really wish my morning sickness hadn't kicked in right then and there. My poorly timed nausea caused me to miss out on some amazing food and wine. Hopefully I'll have a chance to do it all over again... maybe next summer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Value of an Education

FCI Student Chefs

My entire life as a kid, all I ever heard from my parents over and over was "you have to do well in school". Actually it was in Spanish and went more like "tienes que hacer bien en la escuela o si no pues ya veras".

My parents weren't messing around when it came to making threats. I'd get the occasional threat of being hit with a belt if I misbehaved, or the terrifying threat of getting thrown out of the house if I ever got pregnant, and then there was the random threat to never buy me anything if I acted up. Those threats usually occurred after a long day when we were shopping at the grocery store, and my brother and I would slam empty grocery carts into the canned food aisle.

Ultimately after all those threats, the one value that I still carry around with me is this need to be well educated. I'll be honest I wasn't a great student. I wasn't a terrible student either. I excelled when I wanted to, but I also knew how to be lazy and lie about homework being done or not study for a test because I was going to wing it the next day. I was your average B+ student. You don't want that "A" because you'll set the bar too high, but if you get a "C" that means you're pretty much average and really who wants to be average? With a B+ there is always room for improvement, but with fewer criticisms.

That blasé procrastinator habit though has morphed into my downfall over the years. I put things off way longer than I should and it always comes back to haunt me. I think that's why I'm constantly lied to about when I need to be somewhere. It's pretty apparent I don't know how to be on time... EVER.

BUT when I am motivated and enthralled, I know how to wake up early, get to where I need to be before everyone else, and focus with an obsessive compulsive frame of mind. I was like that in culinary school. Although in my days of learning how to be a chef, all of the above was a prerequisite. You HAD to be early, focused, and obsessive when it came to cooking and you can't just wing a recipe. Cooking is all about precision and timing. Too early and it's underdone. Too late and it's over cooked.

Yesterday I received a concerning email about a class-action lawsuit filed against the French Culinary Institute. It made me momentarily reconsider the value of my Grand Diplôme in culinary arts. Was it worth it? Were the endless hours spent in a blistering hot kitchen during the sweltering New York summer valuable enough to justify the small fortune spent on tuition?


Culinary school taught me to be passionate about learning. It taught me to focus and continuously hone my craft. Each day I learned how to improve upon the previous lesson. I grew to embrace high pressure situations and thrive on those feelings of chaos-induced anxiety.

I didn't go to culinary school to learn to cook. It may sound cliché, but I went to culinary school to find my drive and determination.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hurricane Irene... how soon we forget.


Right about this time in 2011, Tropical Storm Irene was making it's way up the East Coast. I remember not being overly concerned about it until Irene finally made landfall in New York. At that point, what started out as a very strong storm in the Bahamas turned out to be a Major Category 3 Hurricane, and unfortunately for our little Village of Bronxville it caused a great deal of damage.

We've had some very quiet hurricane seasons these past couple of years, so I start to wonder how long will it last.

View the complete album here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1PbCAC