For Iris

This is a song that I quote to my bestestestestest friends when shit just doesn’t seem to be working as ideally as possible.

Some great lyrics. One of the things I love about Dave Matthews is that he can write a lyric and sing it, but the lyric only works as that: a lyric. Not a poem or a sentence. So I urge you to listen to these lyrics as they were meant to be heard: to music.

Anyway, this one’s for you, darling.



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Wordplay and Del Toro


I’m back.

After the night I had last night, this post will be more “outlet” than “informational”.  Some of you may have seen my FaceTweets last night (this morning) and been like, “Jesus… wtf?” or something to that effect.  All I can say is that sometimes trying to speak to someone in a heart-to-heart kind of way when the other person is on a completely different planet mentally, the conversation can do more damage than good… damage that is slight and get-over-able, but damaging nonetheless. Damaging especially when the other person is someone you respect as a superior, mentor, and teacher.

In any case, I’ve been beating myself up for 3 weeks over my lack of word-output blog wise. Today that will be rectified. I might even throw in a few puns.

Compartmentalization. A long word version of the phrase: “check your baggage at the door”.

Chefs deal with this concept daily… how successfully they do it truly depends on the weight of said baggage. Be it bills, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, sibling, dealer, bookie, landlord, doctor, blah… it’s baggage. Extra weight. Extra. Too much. And then there’s the job.

Just like at the airport, it also depends on your journey. How much time you plan you invest in your trip is usually directly proportional to how much of your shit you try to cram into a suitcase. I haven’t traveled by air in a long time, so I’m not sure what the weight limit is or how much the airlines charge for checked baggage over that limit, but I’m sure you could file it under “ass rape” in your book of monetary injustices.

I unabashedly claim this movie as one of my favs. Del Toro. Walken. Nuff said.

The same can be said for holding that “baggage” in your professional life. You will pay dearly if you can’t let go. Leave it. You could lose your paycheck and/or your mind if you try to deal with both simultaneously. This is the same for any industry, but I have the feeling that for those who also have a high-stress work environment… things have the propensity to get ugly.

But we all have those days. The days that you are just too tired, too inside your own head, and too languid to deal with any of it. So you don’t deal with any of it. Your performance fails, in every sense of it. The “it” becomes everything. When someone asks you, “Is everything alright?” all you can think to say is “define ‘everything’ and define ‘alright'”. Then all you say is “Yep.” But it gets really magical when almost everyone you work with is feeling the same way.  All you can do is put out plates and regurgitate every profanity you ever learned in a Turrets-esque rant to try to express, nay, embrace your anger.

Then there’s the work. Your work. Your art. Your reputation. Your standards. I don’t care if I sound hippy-dippy when I say that when you are passionate about your work as much as I am and you put your whole being into it, if you aren’t in the right mindset when making your work… it will affect your work. The energy or “vibe” if you will, can jeopardize your work, which could jeopardize your patrons’ experience, which could taint your reputation, etc. etc…. and that CANNOT happen.

There are no carry-ons allowed on this flight. The work is enough to keep your mind busy, occupied.  At least it should be…

In summation: if you can’t check your bags and you can’t bring a carry-on… you might end up as carrion. (like that word play? I do too…)

Thanks for waiting.

Thanks for reading.


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What’d I tell you?

I can hear your "The Knux" over the muzak. And you have cans on. Puh-leez.

See?! I’m already behind. But I’m also awake at 8:30 AM and I’m writing… only 8 1/2 hours late.  Yeah I’m gonna go ahead and use this post to make an amendment to the original plan.  My life is too busy being action-packed with awesome these days to feel the need to waste time indoors writing a blog everyday.  That being said, as soon as I win the lotto the first purchase will be a laptop.  Then I can go to Starbucks and be an official hipster douche bag with my black dark roast, Raygun shirt, MacBook, and ear buds.

As mentioned, I’m gonna take a page right out of “I Know I said This, But Now I’m Changing My Mind” by Katie Brennan.  My *goal* will be to post at least once a week.  I figure that’s a good amount of time to formulate topics, brainstorm, draft, proofread, etc. (Thank you, Mrs. Hingl of Valley Southwoods for making me do all that bullshit. Seriously.)  I definitely want this to be a product of quality over quantity.  I have enough competition out there as it is to worry about choosing something dumb to write about.  You get what I mean.  I’m lucky enough to know personally a few locally-famous bloggers and let’s just say, I’ve got some work to do.

So, this project’s (“Project Don’t Runaway”) First Amendment reads thusly: in the effort to preserve artistic integrity and literal sanity, one has the right to blog according to one’s creative output and scheduling allowances.  Get all that?  This is America, dammit.  This amendment will take effect at 00:00 hours Saturday, June 4th.  Thank you.

But since I’m here…

A large part of the reason I don’t have the time to write for you everyday is my social life and everything that comes with it.  These include but are not limited to: shots, after hours (‘afties’, as I will call them from now on), couch-crashing, cab rides, and next-day car retrieval.  I’ll say this now, mean it now, and I’ll still say it again in a month: I go out way too much and spend too much money on it.  *whew* Glad that’s outta the way.  The point is that all these side-effects contribute to the manner in which my day’s schedule is laid out.  I’d say I’d try to cut back on the excess, but where else am I gonna get material?  Besides work… well I do my share of throwing-back at work too.  Hmm.  Dilemma, or ideal?  Please… latter.

So, in search of good material, I met up with some industry people at The Waveland in the DSM after I left work (about 12:30. See what I’m getting at?)  Already had a ‘few’ after I clocked out, so I order a Coors bottle: “banquet beer” as a friend told me.  Then I see the ginger beer. Then the mug.  It’s Mule Time.  I decide then and there that I must go on a mission to find the best Moscow Mule in the city.  Listen, I don’t normally drink vodka because back when I was 17 I learned that it makes me angry and sweaty.  On top of that, I had never had a Mule until one Mr. Chris at 34’s f.k.a. Valley West Pub made me one a few weeks ago.

"Chris! Make me a Mule, please."

Delicious summer cocktail.  Just fell in love.  Then Tuesday night, Mr. Tom at said 34’s made me a few.  I think I have a problem.

Quick tangent: Chris and Tom are one of the best bartender-difectas in the city and its surroundings. These guys are the kind of bartenders you REALLY WANT to tip well as if in sacrifice to the gods of Cool-Dudeness.  Friendly as all get out, strong pour, great iPods, and despite the plethora of alcohol surrounding them, they’ll have a Miller Lite bottle during the shift, if anything.  Go to there… now.  Tell ’em I sent you.  Yeah I’m pretty important.  I will elaborate on the pickings Des Moines has for bartenders in a later post.

Hello, friend.

Da, dahling.

It was clean, refreshing, potent, and COLD.  According to Wikipedia, the Mule was invented by some American liquor distributor during the “vodka craze” of the 50’s (which is still going strong, of course).  I’ll bet they were sure to include the English translation of the word ‘vodka’ – water of life (l. aqua vitae) in their campaigne.  This guy, in a stroke of marketing genius, chose to serve the drink in a copper mug because… well because it’s cool in more ways than one.  Not only does the vessel lend a hand aesthetically, but the metal is known for its high-conductivity.  Conductivity applies in the absence of heat as well.  That’s how I know that when I take a sip and come back from outside 7 minutes later and take another, that drink will be just as cold, most likely colder.  Cool shit.

Now last night, courtesy of Mr. Tim (HA! Tom and Tim…) my Mule looked like this:

All that glitters might be silver...

Sure beat the piss out of my Coors.  Yummy.  Same bite from ginger, clean alcohol flavor from the vodka, bitter citrus. And COLD.  Don’t quote me, but I’m guessing the mug is nickel or silver-plated aluminum, again, known among food professionals for its conductivity.  I’m tellin’ you… Mr. Moscow Mule nailed it.

Obviously I cannot formulate an educated opinion based on two samples.  So the search continues.  I’ll let you know about it on the next occasion I get to imbibe of this phoney-euro-albeit-DAMN-GOOD concoction.

Until then, you never know who might turn up at Hy-Vee, so be sure to dress up.

Thank you for reading, sincerely.


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Here we go…

My good friend Sam told me yesterday that if I want to write, then I have to find the time to do it every day. Sounds good. Awesome. Easy peazy lemon squeezy.  I am a notorious procrastinator and I sometimes start things I don’t finish. I’ve started a few blogs in the past with clever titles like “Kulinarienne” and “The Procrastinator’s Kitchen” and lo and behold, after a few valiantly consistent posts, I never touched it again.  The truth is I’m afraid it won’t be good enough to make an impact on anyone but me, which is my ultimate goal… but I need to get over that.

So this is as “scratch” as it gets. I’m going to write about food.  About drinks.  About Des Moines. About the amazing people that I get to meet on a daily basis.  I will attempt to do this as eloquently and accessibly as possible.

It’s always been a task for me to put into words about my relationship with food.  In the most simplistic terms: food is merely the medium with which most (some, not all) food industry professionals create art.  We tens can be hard to come by nowadays, but we’re always there, fighting the good fight.  Sometimes fighting with each other. Sometimes fighting with ourselves.  We’ve all read Kitchen Confidential and Devil in the Kitchen (if you haven’t read these titles, don’t come back until you have!) There’s a certain reputation that we restaurant-folk carry; lushes, cretins, uneducated, general miscreants you could either trust with your life or would expect to shank you to steal your pack of P-Funks.  But there’s a special place on every bar’s ban list reserved for cooks. Cooks (real cooks) are a special hybrid of fire-proof, pressurized, highly caffeinated insanity.  We know it. We embrace this truth and we turn around to face the world and say, “Yep.” Then we crack a tall-boy at 10 am, turn on some Daft Punk and start ticking away at that prep list.  It’s either a good or a bad night.  Clock out.  Drinks. Sleep.  Repeat.

That being said, cooks can be some of the most brilliant people you’ll ever meet. Not saying I could count myself among these few, but someday.  Cooks could become this planet’s army if things continue to go south. Think about it… they thrive in high-pressure, hot, small spaces, work well with fire and blades, can usually make something edible out of.. anything, and are there to work the work. We have time, taste, talent, and we aim to please (even if we hate to admit it).  Thusly, I am here to please. To inform, educate, enlighten. All while knowing and embracing the fact that I, myself, am and will always be a student. Absorbing, retaining, repeating, improving.

This is where I start.  Where I finally find out if I’m made of what it takes to be a food writer.  My mind will be running on all cylinders; I will remember tastes, smells, textures, good, bad, ugly, brilliant and try to relay and/or convey these experiences. So basically I will try my best to keep this going.  Thanks.

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