We are old pros at this cooking demo, it’s almost becoming routine. We prepped all week, filling tiny sampler bottles, checking stock and polishing the Fustis. Chef Joe had planned a menu befitting the holiday – Cinco de Mayo. His selections included fruit quesadillas made with Alfoos Mango white balsamic, fish tacos cooked in Cilantro & Roasted Onion olive oil and Jalapeño white balsamic, pulled pork burritos cooked in Chipotle olive oil and finished with Blueberry dark balsamic, and bowl full of Mango balsamic salsa. The recipes are available here.
The morning was sunny for a change, though not terribly warm. Peterborough was hosting “Greenerborough Day” which brought the crowds walking through town right to our doors. Suddenly the little store was buzzing; family, old friends, new faces. Joe’s food was sparking new friendships and the bottles were flying off the shelves.
Now to start planning for “Dads and Grads” in June, I’m thinking a bar-b-que if the weather cooperates!
I often wonder how weathermen and women, meteorologists as they prefer, keep their jobs when they can’t seem to predict the weather. This weekend, reality reversed the predictions for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday dawned gloriously bright, sunny and warm. THAT was supposed to happen on the only day I had off this week, Sunday.
I closed the store the night before, so I knew exactly what needed to be accomplished before the first customers arrived Saturday morning. I arrived to find Chef Joe setting up and Korey was restocking the fustis with oils and vinegar. This time Joe had a lovely sous chef to help out. Lillie was not only enthusiastic and charming, she was a darn good sales person.
Folks feasted on braised lamb shank with blackberry-ginger sauce, shaved asparagus salad, various flavors of deviled eggs and marshmallows dipped in flavored dark balsamic vinegars.
Some literally stayed for hours, catching up with neighbors and sampling great products.
Someone provides you with an excellent, invitingly clean sandbox. You jump in to play and all the tools are there; the buckets and shovels, the castle forms and characters. How can you not have fun? My sandbox this past weekend was the store.
The idea came from a customer who volunteered to hold a cooking demo in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. My only demand was that we not serve corned beef and boiled cabbage. We settled on Pan Seared Salmon in Black Cherry Vinaigrette Sauce, Pan Seared Sea Scallops in Sesame Oil and Jalapeño Balsamic, Potatoes Anna made with Butternut Squash Seed Oil and Rainbow Slaw featuring Pomegranate-Quince Balsamic. Joe also brought fresh cantaloupe and dark chocolate from Ava Marie Chocolates for dessert with a variety of vinegars.
The cooking demo/tasting was a new event, something untried so far. All the particulars such as recipe cards, tasting packets and sample bottles were prepared. The morning of the event, we gathered at the store to set up. Floors were cleaned, boot-scaper carpets were shaken and vacuumed, stainless steel Fustis were gleaming, decorations and signs were hastily drawn up.
The team consisted of the owners, Korey and Kim, their niece Caitlin, Chef Joe and I. Deb from the bookstore was thankfully popping in with suggestions, such as “Where were all those recipe cards you had printed??” Ah, she saved my butt there. We polished and chatted and waited for the flood. And the flood did come.
Suddenly the store was awash with bright coats and colors. Folks were clustering around the cooking, commenting and tasting. The aisles were crowded with people tasting and exclaiming over various oils. I worked my way to the back and saw a familiar customer who was enthusiastically showing a friend one of the new Blackberry-Ginger dark balsamic vinegar flavor. “Love it on my grapefruit half every morning!” I quipped as I headed to the stock room for more fresh bread.
Laura Mahoney, my photo blogging buddy, was on hand to catch all the action for us. It was fast-paced but well-organized. I don’t think anyone had to wait very long to be served and there was plenty to taste while you waited.
The day flowed by so quickly, I was caught by surprise as Chef Joe started to pack up. He had run out of some items on the menu and had improvised for plates and cutlery for the last hour.
How did so much energy finally start to slow? It was perfect for everyone to catch their breath and evaluate the event. We had all had fun, there was no dispute there. It was well worth our time. It was such a heroic effort to pull it off so seamlessly, no question.When all was said and done, and we were smiling idiotic grins. Guess we passed all the milestones.
Next up? Chef Joe will be back for an Easter menu extravaganza!