Alligator Dundee.

I went down to the Willamette Valley yesterday to interview for a sous position- the one I did the menu for.  It is at a new small hotel that is opening up in the middle of wine country, in a small place called Dundee, and it looks like it's going to be pretty nice.
Highlights include a small restaurant, a deli, a wine bar, and the food would be supplied in part by a 1.75 acre farm, which I would go pick stuff from.  Also, being fed one of the finest lunches I have ever had*.  Seriously.
Lowlights include the fact it is in a pretty middle of nowhere, agricultural-based place.  The county seat is 15-20 minutes away, and has 35,000 people.  Portland is 40-45 minutes away, and that is to the outlying section of SW Rip-City.
So if I am offered the job, do I commute from the city, or live in a small town.  It's poll time!

*food was: 4 kinds of perfect salami and an 18 month prosciutto (all made in-house), a green garlic sformata (it's texture was like having a beautiful woman in your mouth....but that's another story), deep fried sausage stuffed celery with spicy tomato sauce, and fresh tagliatelle  with sea urchin.  And 2 glasses of wine.  And an espresso.  And excellent service from the owners.  And a bill for $20.  I am the Alligator.


Cricket Makin's.

I made a little cricket set for the summer.  It is in the style of tape ball cricket, popular in South Asia.
Bat, traditional size, (except depth), made of VERY untraditional American pine.  I may treat it if I get inspired with the traditional linseed oil.  It will only hit tennis balls well I think.
I am playing a few overs in a bit to test it.
Here is what I made:


I had a virtual "black box" (like "Iron Chef"- get ingredients randomly, and come up with some food) cooking test today as part of an interview for a job down in Oregon wine country.  It's the sous chef job at a small, boutique hotel, and because I am so far away, we did it like this:
I got a list of ingredients from the chef.  It was like a list of things we would buy at a farmers market right now.  
The list:
Spring onions
Fresh ricotta
Hen Eggs
Wild salmon
Stinging nettles
Stinky Black truffles
Baby turnips
Buffalo Tri tip
Washington Syrah
Peasant bread
Smoked Bacon
Persimmon Vinegar

My menu:

The chef liked it, so I am going to chat with him later this week in Oregon. 
Concern: I have never really lived in a small town, so I am unsure of if I could do it, and not go crazy!



A little round-up for my life:
-Went out to the Nisqually delta, which is going to have the retaining dike destroyed on April 3rd, thus making it (I think) the largest salt marshland in the state.  It has been farmland for 90+ years or so.  Please correct me if I am wrong.
-I bought the 1st of the season asparagus from Eastern Washington yesterday; from Sunnyside.  It was FANTASTIC.  I simply broiled it, then butter salt and pepper.  I ate it outside, in the sun.  I loved every moment of it.  And when asked to explain why I love it so much, my answer is simple: it is the beginning of the growing season, well, as long as you exclude radishes...
-Artswalk last night in downtown.  I messed up my pizza dough, which as soon as I mixed in my flour, I realised I had an issue.  It turned out to be high gluten wheat additive, not high gluten flour.  You are supposed to add a bit to regular flour...not use it only.  I made a giant dough turkey!
-Tonight is the procession of the species, the big hippie arts parade where everyone dresses up as animals.  If I went, I would go as this.
-I have gotten some of my music back, either through itunes being nice, or obtaining my music off my ipod.  If anyone wants to compress an album for me, and send it to me, so I can have new tunes, that would be awesome.



Another computer mishap today: suddenly/randomly ALL my music and pictures files just vanished.  I have no idea where they went.  Gone.  *Poof*
Needless to say I have lots of free space on my hard drive.  The pictures I have backed up, but my music collection was pretty respectable-some rare and quality stuff like the complete Stax singles collection.  4 Elvis albums, all live and when he was fat.  Hank Jr's number one hit.  And about 40 gigs of "other."
I also went morel hunting this morning with Trever, and we found....nothing.  We started the day off too high up in the hills, then basically, we either didn't get lucky, or got cursed by the thousands of spawned salmon carcasses from last fall.

But this here is the view from up in Capitol forest.  That's Mt. Ranier.

And finally, just for the record, this guy stole my idea for a restaurant.



I am going to do some home brewing this week.  Why?  Because I have my kit, I've got some extra time, and I'm poor, so making my own liquor as a poor person is a time-honored American (or human rather) tradition!
Well, it ain't gonna be no moonshine.  It's going to be a Belgian strong golden ale, ala Duvel, but perhaps a wee darker.
Never made beer before?  It's easy, and fun.  You can start with mixes/kits, or you can create your own recipe using an online beer calculator like this one.  It's nice, 'coz it does all the math for you- I even found out how many calories per 12oz my beer will have (Bud Lite it isn't!)
I will try to document the process of beer making.  I wish to inspire you to make your own.

Other project: cricket bat for backyard summer cricket.



What a weekend, or really, weekends are less visible in my life now; they have been that way for a while really.  That's how you roll when you are retired (and with your shit off safety....) 
Saturday was spent on the Skokomish River delta; apparently it's the biggest on Puget Sound.  It's on Hood Canal, and I spent the day with Trever and his dog Buddha.
We got out to a mud pit, and of course, what do I want to do: Jump in it, of course.

Everyone wishes I disappeared up to my neck....

On the way home I came up with two pretty good superheroes I feel: The Indifference and the NacroLeper.  I could go into the details, but I think you get the gist of what they do, or don't do rather....

Sunday was a family BBQ day at my sister and bro-in-law's house; I made Jerk Chicken and hoppin' john.  It was nice to sit out and eat in the yard.  And then I got an upset stomache, and went to bed as soon as I got home....
Today, I am going to Capitol Forest to walk- it's gonna be the nicest day of the year so far!



I am about to hit a good stretch- I can feel it in my bones, and smell it in the air....
Last night I went with my dad to see a Buddhist monk from Tibet speak at Evergreen.  He was, at first, really difficult for me to listen to; he was so relaxed with his speaking and manner, I was having difficulty focusing on him.  I guess that means I had all the symptoms of being bored, but was not truly bored.  But his message was simple: "Drop your mind."  By realizing that our whole world exists in our head, and that our minds are our perception one can learn through meditation how to become at peace with ourselves.  Once I relaxed, I then got more into it, his talk was rhythmic, and became "looser."  He was not a natural born sales man, which brings me to my next idea:
Buddhism (even though it is growing in the US) will never be a major religion in the US, because of our ingrained capitalistic nature.  Buddhist think less is more, while Americans think more is more.  I had a discussion with my dad, who I went to the talk with, and I said that the religion is pretty contradictory to what I like about myself: my drive and dreams.  Ambition is worthless to a Buddhist....
But the fact that they're so relaxed, and content with themselves it seems makes me wish I could swap all the crazy evangelists and fundamentalists of other religions for more Buddhists.
That would make the world a quieter place- Imagine a Buddhist Fox News Channel!  Wait, you can't!



I am slightly giddy.

As a young boy, I loved my Seattle Mariners.  Even though they were crap, and then got good, and then briefly got really good (but not great), they went downhill again.  WAAAAAAAYYYY downhill.

But on nights like tonight, I am a small child again.
One of my childhood heroes has returned to Seattle for the season: Ken Griffey, Jr.  He hit his 400th homerun as a Mariner tonight (613th career), and Ichiro, the star of this decade's M's, started his 1st game of the season, and hit a grand slam to complete the rout.
I love this game.  (Don't mention this post to me in mid-August when the Mariners are in last place, and are 15 games under .500!)

What Do I Wear?

So how does one approach a job interview properly when they have realized that it's not a good fit as employment?
I have said interview today, and I am really not thinking the job is for me, but I also feel like the interview is good practice.  It's going to take 15 minutes at most right?  I can easily endure that for a lesson.  Do I dress as snazzy as I would for a job I'd really want?  I might even wear jeans! Shock horror!

It's also a job that I'd be not-emotionally invested in, so leaving it for NZ* would be possible at any time really....
So I am in a place of if-ands-or-buts.  I have been in this position before, quite recently in fact.  I went through this when I decided to go home on my trip to the Coromandel.
My return has been mentally harder than I thought it would be, admittedly.

*I have been told my application has been sent to the UK, but haven't heard from the UK office.  It's taken a long time, like NZ Immigration sent my paperwork by sailboat that's also to call on the Spice Coast and Malabar!



From the other day at Trever's with the lil' sis.  We ate that salad, and dressed up in funny hats.
That's the life.

Today I am taking care of random errands, no big whoop as they say.

I have also been listening to the Adam Carolla podcast lately.  He used to be one of the guys on "Love Line," was a creator of "The Man Show," and also "Crank Yankers."  It's basically an hour of him shooting the breeze with his guests in an informal interview.  I've thrown it on the pile of my NPR-based podcasts.  Any other ones I should check out?


My Treat! My Treat! Yeti Lives!

Hanging about in Olympia is a funny thing.  I grew up here; and so there is a, well, not hate, there is this natural denial of it being cool; maybe at best is a begrudging respect.
Yesterday I spent it with my little sister Sophie, and with my friend Trever, and his dog, Buddha.
Trever has been volunteering at the Oly co-op for a while in the produce section.  This co-op is a place my family has been going to as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, it was full of smelly hippies and sold soy-milkshakes.
Now, it's full of less-smelly hippies, and some really cool stuff.  And it still has a great bulk selection.
One product: Olykraut.  A local range of sauerkraut, from traditional, to Eastern European style with apples, to "spicy chi."  Fermented cabbage products made in Oly- they are delicious!  While Sophie may have gotten a vegan cupcake (that wasn't horrible, but still lacked the buttery richness a cupcake needs), and T-Man chose a Sarsaparilla, I chose the kraut as my treat.  "My treat! My treat!" I shouted as I wore a traditional (country of) Georgian sheep-herders hat.  "Yeti lives!"  You had to be there.
Also, our food-related ramblings about town took us to the Hippiest of All Colleges, the Evergreen State College's organic farm.  We talked with one of the volunteer growers, bought duck eggs, and looked around in the green houses.  What a farm.  I could go on a rant about the proximity of lots of cool farms to this city.
So we made with our purchases, "Dandy-Tater Salad with Poached Duck Egg and Alder Smoked sea salt."  Dandelion greens and po-taters with leeks and a mustard vinaigrette....
And in the evening, I ate Morgan's favorite chips of this nation: Tim's Cascade JalapeƱo flavor. 

Spicy, sweet, and VERY salty.



I thought I'd take a moment out of my busy, busy day to post this idea:

I love it, and it's the next hot thing, like.....like....fashion challenges, epaulets, or watermelon hats.

Ok, I get back to walking around in the sun. (yes! it's sunny here- 21°C!)

End of Rant.

Well, I feel like the car troubles are over, even though the car is still in the shop.  But they figured out what the problem is, and I in the meantime changed all the parts that got fried in the electrical mess that they would have done anyways for 4 times the cost (at least).  And the fix isn't something I could have done at home.
But it's seemingly over, and I apparently got lucky-I was close to optimum fire in car conditions!

Anyways, I promise this'll be the end of my car dramas on this blog for a while (unless I crash the car, then the images of carnage will prevail).

Today I'm going up to Seattle to chats with people regarding employment.  I'm going to try a more "casual" approach.  Perhaps the suit and tie were bad juju in an informal industry- at least in the kitchens of the Northwest.


.....And it's dead!

My car. What happened to the always reliable Dart?
On my way down to Oly from Seattle yesterday, I stopped for gas in Fife, the butthole of Tacoma, only because I felt I needed it (felt=because my gas gauge doesn't work).

And then it didn't start up again.

I moved it out of the way, got a ride down to Oly, to sort it out once I got home. I got it towed this morning down to my dad's house, thinking/hoping it was just the alternator needing to be changed. I changed that, and some other stuff, and it won't start up or do anything at all.

And now I know it's an electrical mess, which, if I remember correctly, is something that is supposed to be more in line with, say, a1983 Alfa Romeo Spyder, not a '66 Dodge Dart. There is barely anything electronic. Some are surprised when they open the hood and DON'T find a dino-creature moving it, ala the Flinestones.

Rant, rant, rant, etc.

At least it was sunny today- shorts and t-shirt weather, and I went disc golfing (poorly). I just don't need the car troubles.
I should blog about something much funnier to read tomorrow!


Turn That Frown Upside Down.

My sickness seems to have slackened.  My car's problem's have risen.
This general confusion of looking for a job, and reacclimatizing myself into American society are what I was supremely wary of....
My blogging seems depressing as of late; I've little to be excited for.
But you know what?  It could be a lot worse, and that makes me smile a little.

And Trever slightly changed the look of this site.  Maybe something new soon?



Currently, it is snowing in Olympia. It's not sticking, but it is snowing, so technically, that is a crime. I am still rejecting this cold weather, with not only my nose becoming congested, but mostly because I didn't get any "breaking in" period. One doesn't get to play baseball with a new mitt- it has to be broken in. I am like a baseball glove: leathery and tanned.

My job search has been all about my contacts; who I know and who I've done business with. The market is more depressed than I thought it'd be, and that all the positions I'd love to have are currently filled with people who are too smart to leave them. I do not blame them. When I went to my old culinary school to chat with career services, the woman said it was the worst market she's ever seen. For somebody with my resume, the only places that would really pay me what I'm worth that have positions that are available are corporate gigs- the big chain restaurants and hotels. That is not me. Not at all.

I do have one lead- it's pretty funny actually. I've got an interview Friday for the chef at a fraternity at UW. The food would be simple, but it'd give me an opportunity to be my own boss, and even develop recipes. As my friend Mike told me, "it's better to be employed than not employed." Truth.
And then there is this summer, I have a big opportunity selling organic cherries in Portland. My friend Meghan did this last summer, and made pretty good money for little work. If I'm selling hard-out (100%) then I could make some coin, as it'd be direct from the orchards to grocers.
And then there is the final piece of the puzzle: Working at the cabin in Eastern Washington. My dad told me if I wanted to live up there and work, I could do that, and it sounds like I could earn enough to not starve. Actually, he'd love it, because there's a lot that needs to be done by different companies, and there's never anyone there to oversee projects.

I have already thought out this timeline as being pretty good- by the time this circuit could be done, my process for returning to NZ could be (mostly) complete. What about that y'all?