sitting still, hearing loudly
Since I can remember, I have always loved two things (of many, but this is my focus for tonight): Bugs and Stickers. I’ve never collected stickers of the norm (unicorns, Barbie dolls etc), they were usually some sort of bug or dragon and if I got really lucky it was a collection. Most recently (and this being 10 years ago), I bought myself a roll of glow-in-the-dark bug stickers. I saved them because they were on the top of my list, and I let the usual suspects be used up (ladybugs, spiders, crickets).
As life would have it, I worked hard, played hard, had children and soon enough forgot about my glow bugs. They were shoved from house to house in random collective boxes of things that I prized and promised to resurface. They haven’t.
I find that the spirit of my life travels in mountain ranges. For some it ebbs and flows with the tide but for me, it is finite, dancing amongst peaks and valleys. When I’m working hard it shines like a drop of butternut sunshine in the dawn darkness; when I have time to enjoy life it rises over a peak and radiates the world with golden fingers.
Since having two children, and presently with a 3 yr old and a 6 month old, the things that matter to me most have shifted into the lives of my children. I can’t say I have lost who I am but the stickers have been put on a back shelf.
Recently I decided to look for them to no avail. They were gone, and I felt a door slam in the garden of my heart, a sign reading, “you waited too long”. It was disruptive but soon forgotten as dinners and vomit and diapers crashed back into my day.
A week ago I found one of my stickers carefully tucked into a screwhole of my closet. How I found it, you might ask, is because I was searching for a missing shoe and happened to glance up at the underbelly of a shelf. And there it was, very carefully placed over the end of the screw. Further investigation led me to the living room. I got down on my back and slid under the table. Sure enough–stickers under the 4 screwholes of each leg holding the table up.
Since then I have found hundreds. On my cereal bag, the laundry basket, a bottle of wine, inside a t-shirt, in the shower, under the area rug, on my pillow. And then the grand finale. Last night I left my bathroom light on by accident, and fell asleep. Our 6 month old daughter Emilia Charlie did her usual barking at 5am for my milk, and I stopped to turn off the bathroom light. What was before me was the most enchanting sight ever (aside from the milky way, which might warrant a separate discussion). Hundreds of glow in the dark sticker bugs, formed into the pattern of a horse, and more. I asked our son Lucca about it and he gave me this shy smile…the sparkly kind that pierces through your skull and brain and heart and mind and soul and makes something in the midsection of your body ache.
There is something fantastical about three year olds, I do believe they sense things on a higher, purer level than we do as adults. He reminded me to dig out my spirit again. To build castles, bake cookies, go sleighriding down the back steps of our porch (belly first) and to live with reckless amounts of love, freedom and play.
I smiled back with the look of a child, in amazement that he understood more than he could possibly fathom.
He said, “Mama do you like stickews?”
Smoked Barley Soup
Truffle Crème Fraiche, Pickled Apple, Chestnuts
Coddled John Boy’s Farm Egg
Melted Leeks, Salsify, “Bacon Bits”
Pan Seared Sea Scallop
Cauliflower Sage Cake, Almond Crema
Clawhammer Farm Rack of Pork
Fried Belly Wontons, Soba, Scallion
Fermented Garlic Broth
Mecox Bay Dairy Atlantic Mist
Candied Walnuts, Spiced Apple Butter
Peekytoe Crab Salad
Market Radishes, Preserved Lemon, Snap Pea Vinaigrette
Morels, Beech Mushrooms, House-Cured Duck, Pecorino
Moroccan Carabinero Shrimp
Artichokes Bariguole, Bulghur, Miso Yogurt
Clawhammer Farm Pork Shoulder
Smoked Beans, Cabbage Slaw, Grits
Poached Quail Egg
Lemon Cake, Earl Grey Whipped Cream
Tempura Maitake Mushrooms, Hazelnut Oil, Chives
Hidden Camp Farm Egg, Guanciale, Pecorino
Shishito Pepper, Dashi Broth, Butternut Squash
Clawhammer Farm Butter Poached Chicken
Parsnip Puree, Chard, Wood Roasted Carrots
Bone Marrow and Black Salt
Butternut Squash Donuts
Sauces and Dips
I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been wondering what to call this blog. It seems that over the past few years the need to label ourselves has become stronger and stronger. We are bloggers, we are foodies, we eat raw things we are ovolactarians, bactarians, germiphites, phobes and gluten free carnivores. We think more about what category we can or shouldn’t fit into. We’re hipsters we’re anti-hipsters and funny enough but the very hipsters we speak of probably call themselves cowboys. A man can’t even don a purple shirt and slim pants without being labeled Metrosexual.
And what, exactly does that mean? A metropolitan dresser that is sexual? A guy who wants to have sex on the metro? A guy who wants to have sex with the metro?
My blogs are usually fairly passive as I don’t subscribe to any party or belief with radical fanaticism. I do have beliefs, but they are something I keep in a small box, not to be blasted over social media or heaven forbid, labeled.
With the opening of our new kitchen we had to make a decision about the sign and awning. Lots of folks recommended the now typical buzz words like, “farm to table”, “market to your plate,” and other random concoctions that made me scratch the small box in my pocket and keep quiet. It wasn’t until last night–I was awoken abruptly at One Something a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep for the better part of an hour–that I had a thought.
We are Maison Prive.
Chefs. Just Chefs.
My ancestors were farmers, and proud to have dirty hands as they toasted the end of the day with some sort of fermented corn concoction that only Germans can love. Jim’s ancestors were butchers, and had the same gnarled hands that the farmers did. At the end of the day they celebrated together: celebrated life as they were brothers and sisters in their own right sharing the same wine, the same food, the same table…
never really concerned with what to call each other.
Marinated Sea Scallop
American Sturgeon Caviar, Shellfish Liqueur, Chives
64° Clawhammer Farm Egg
Melted Leeks, Gruyere Fonduta, Brioche Crouton, Truffle Emulsion
a la Maison Privé
Grass Fed and Finished Beef Ribeye
Cauliflower Puree, Miso Maple Glazed Squash, Fried Brussels, Smoke
Candied Orange, Hazelnut Crunch, Brown Butter Ice Cream
Sometimes in life there are things that we try to protect from one another, from each other, from ourselves. There are times when we have to make tough decisions and when faced with a no answer is correct scenario it becomes even more difficult. I am the type of person who saves everything. My mom had glasses and cups strewn all over our house when I was a child–not for cheerios–but for saving bugs. We didn’t kill things, we didn’t cause harm, my brother and I were taught to have a reverence for life and life it shall be.
I have tossed this idea over and over again in my head because there is a strange dichotomy that forms when you are a chef. Things wildly encompass you when you have the 2am revelation of a new dish or the 6am pounding headache when you know you worked (and played) too hard. You are faced with life and death at all forms and we have chosen the path that faces it. We don’t refer to our protein as “meat”, it is an animal, and we call it young lamb, cow, pig, chicken. Those who are faint of heart and put a hand to their ear well–you shouldn’t be eating young lamb if you don’t want to understand what it is.
For me, solace came this summer in tending to my small garden. I never really knew that my green thumb was a hand indeed and my small plot turned into love. My most favorite was my arugula plants. No offense meant to Lettuces of Other Varieties but this was the red dress in the room. I clipped the arugula daily, we had dinners composed of frontyard greens almost every night, and the spark was lit as I had something to prune. This arugula fed me, my husband, and our child every night. Imagine what would happen if we all had gardens.
The biggest and most obvious caveat told to me by fellow gardeners was, “don’t let it bolt, then you’re finished! Don’t let it flower!”. Plants and herbs need to “go to seed”, which is what happens when they bolt. It’s kind of a gardener’s worst nightmare because production stops when that happens. However, it is the plant’s path. This is why you have to get out there every day and trim the leaves if you want to eat. Be the deer in the forest, the rabbit in the field. We have fancy scissors, they have teeth.
Today I came home from a very hard weekend filled with choices, a weekend where no one was home to tend to my garden. I was greeted by a flower in my arugula bed.
It reminded me that sometimes we should let things go, let them all go and find peace in our solutions, convictions and decisions because in the end what carries you will shine something brilliant.
…is not one that we take. The simple road doesn’t know gravel. It is easy, reflects the sweet shadows that a billowy blowing curtain can cast upon a baby’s face when fluttering in the reflection of the wind’s breath, an open window, an open highway, anything that is meant to look simple and beautiful.
What we do is really hard. We are constantly chastised for not feeding our baby cow’s milk or chicken from farms that we do not know. When forced to pump our baby’s breast milk we heard “oh you can stop that soon” or “no one does that”. We constantly hear “oh strawberries, how bad can they be if they are not organic”. The life that we have chosen is harder and more expensive. My personal favorite comment is, “well I ate terrible things as a kid, never slept, I’m still here!”. Weird allergies are on the rise and we are happy to announce that our 20 month old eats everything from peas to diver scallops to pastured beef to liver from a farm in CT. The simple road, we have chosen to ignore both with our son and our business. We sing out loud with what we have and leave aside our thoughts of what we don’t.
Want to hire us? We will buy you food from farms, we will serve you seasonal ingredients, you will not get tomatoes in December or parsnips in June. We will continue to love the seasons and adhere to them, revere them.
As far as our strategy on life goes..it is our path to lead, and we have chosen the rocky road.
Chanterelle Mushroom Salad
Chervil, Fingerling Potato Chips, Confit Artichoke
Broccoli Rabe Vinaigrette, Crumbled Walnuts, Thyme
Grilled Head-On Shrimp
Market Peas, Lemon, Pea Shoots, Jalapeno
Heritage Red Chicken Breast
Summer Bean Salad, Arugula Soubise, Toasted Farro
Lamb Loin en Persillade
Eggplant, Piquillo Peppers, Spinach
Pimenton Lamb Jus
House-Made Ricotta, Pistachio, Honey, Mint
Orange Flower Water Granite
Brooklyn Chocolate Cupcake
Salted Caramel Ice Cream