Thursday, February 16, 2012

citrus flight of fancy


at this very moment, i feel a bit fried from the day. i was able to make some very solid progress on a key work project, so i thought i'd take a moment to wind down here at the sfmoma rooftop....before attending the chef panel put on by inforumsf this evening.

i'm thinking about unexpected moments and how sometimes i really do not know what the day will bring.

this week i was having dinner with a loved one and the discussion turned to how i ended up making a cocktail for 50 people at a private hapa event a while back. i had just finished kid sitting and AC was kind enough to gave me a ride to the hapa kitchen before he went to work so that i could meet up with everyone before heading to the private event. little did i know that when i arrived into the kitchen that i would obtain the responsibility for creating a cocktail for 50 people.

i learned of this about an hour before we all squeezed into the car and left for the event.

i admit that when i first heard the words "you're on cocktail", there was a flare of utter panic...that was instantly squashed down because really there was no time for panic....and my immediate thought was "what do i have to work with?" after taking a look at the available ingredients...then i thought about what flavors would work with what was available, be aligned with the menu, and be a yummy first taste for the clients that evening. fortunately and unsurprisingly, ingredients that were available were excellent....including in-house created syrups, fresh citrus juices....from local organic produce from farmers markets, and in-house candied citrus peels. after a bit of analysis, i pitched the idea of a winter citrus bourbon spritzer that i decided to call a "citrus flight of fancy". this was due to the "flight" of different winter citrus, how this would be a whimsical first taste (a spritzer in a martini glass) as well as a hidden reference to the fact that i was making this up on the fly. once i received the ok/approval on the overall flavor profile and vision of the cocktail....it was all about math.

lots and lots of math.....figuring out how many glasses (with some fudge factor), estimate milliliters/oz per glass, then how many parts of bourbon versus other ingredients to be served to 50 people. then, there was also factoring in the visual presentation of the drink, how could it be made to scale, and delivered quickly for the 50 clients that would be likely arriving within a 30 min window.

i'd like to point out that i'm not a bartender.

i'd also like to point out that i'm not in the food industry.

yet, those dear readers that have been following me for a while are likely well aware of my research into cocktails and my specific interest in different types of whiskey. i had a clear idea in my head of what i wanted the drink to taste like (nothing like pressure to make one very focused)...something to point to what folks would be having later on and winter citrus appeared on the menu that evening.


yet, everything was theory until we arrived at the venue. once there, i set up my station and made a sample drink for the hapa crew to try. now this moment.....this moment was by far the most stressful moment of the evening for me....and i exhaled a breathe that i didn't realize i was holding once richie provided his ok for it. when the event began, it was show time....answering questions about the hapa, richie's background, the provenance of the food, the cocktail....doing all this while making glass after glass of the "citrus flight of fancy".


i think most of you dear readers can understand just how relieved i felt when i started hearing guests speak to each other about how much they liked it. one of the event organizers also came into my station area while i was making the cocktails to provide positive feedback... which was very kind of them to do so. i was extremely glad that the first taste of the evening went well....because i knew just how much tasty, lovely, and comforting food was on the menu that evening....and wanted to ensure that i was being respectful to hapa and the folks eating the food. at the end of the evening, it was fascinating to see different clients glow and smile broadly from being well-fed. while i observed this, i remember thinking that this is likely one of the reasons people decide to make careers out of feeding people...to see this kind of happiness.

well, it is time for me to head over to the commonwealth club to listen to some chefs talk about their food....

until later dear hearts....

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