When I first started working at Lawrence, I thought for sure that I would be able to make time for both work and writing. That between the long days making anglaise, puff pastry, bread, custards, and caramel, I would still feel stoked to write in this blog (or anywhere else!). Six months later, I’ve accepted the struggles that I’ve encountered when searching for energy and inspiration to ever visit this space, especially when the one thing that I blog about the most — cooking! — I simply don’t do much anymore. (I mean really: you don’t want to hear about endless breakfasts of avocado toast, lentil mush, and late-night popcorn). So one of the things that I thought about over the holidays was how to make this space feel engaging and special to me again. Because I’d really like it to be! And already: relaxing in this space again feels comforting and cozy.
These photos aren’t that recent, but hopefully still worth sharing. I’ve written about the beauty of steamed mussels before (my recipe can be found here). They’re one of my favorite dishes to make for friends because they’re awesomely cheap, easy, and healthy. And right now, they’re in season. I also added an obscene amount of chopped herbs (I used a mix of fresh dill, fennel fronds, parsley, basil, mint, and tarragon), pastis, and my secret ingredient — a tiny dice of raw celery. The steam relaxes the celery slightly and gives the dish a miraculous lift and lightness. We ate big bowls of brothy mussels with crisp duck fat-fried potatoes, a shaved fennel salad, and golden garlic toasts — made with my own bread! (A smuggled-home stump of Lawrence sourdough).
So here’s to more parties… and garlic toast… and brothy healthfulness… and finding time to spend in spaces that you love…. even if all you make six days of the week is avocado toast and lentil mush.
Things have seemed a little quiet around here, haven’t they? The truth is, I’ve never been busier in my life.
Somewhere around the end of July, Marc Cohen of Lawrence — one of my very favorite restaurants in the city — approached me with the opportunity of a lifetime. Was I interested in being his new assistant pastry chef, he asked. My first thought was: I’m no pastry chef. I never went to pastry school, and I’m definitely self-taught. I’m more of a writer, an observer, a consumer. And I felt so safe and cozy being part of the Depanneur Le Pick Up family, making brownies and cupcakes and granola bars. This was something else altogether, something strange and scary.
There was so much doubt and nervousness, but also excitement. (Let’s just say there were a lot of pep talks delivered from loved ones.) But I wanted the job. Badly. Even if I meant that I would fail. So I did my trial shift, finished my training, and now I’m officially Lawrence’s assistant pastry chef. Things are different but the same — I’m working in a kitchen with people I really respect, learning about an art that I’m totally in love with, at a pace and in an environment that’s challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, gorgeous, and surreal. (I mean, just take a peep at this beautiful menu!)
I was worried that my crazy new schedule (50 hours a week! What was I thinking!) would affect the amount of time that I would get to hang with Adam. But then I woke up one morning, tired and overwhelmed and missing him, and found a little present on my doorstep. Half of a perfect watermelon, a market gift from him to me. I need these sweet reminders from the people who believe in me, and share my excitement.
I’ll keep writing here, but I was thinking that the content will shift. I want to write more about this new restaurant life, my new pastry skills, my new insane schedule. Life is so weird. Here I am, a California girl making pastry in Montreal. I never, ever would have imagined this would be my life. But I am so grateful.
I’m so excited to announce the next special event at Le Pick Up, featuring the talented duo behind Rau Rum, an independent and local catering company. We attended a preview event for the dinner last week and the food was totally mindblowing — everything was so incredibly fresh, flavorful, and healthy. I’ve never had Vietnamese food like that in my life! See the full details for the dinner here.
Montreal friends, I’m hosting a Hawaiian luau at the Pick Up this Friday, July 20. (Full details here). I’m in charge of the dessert course, and I can’t stop reading about of the amazingly retro South Sea options out there, like “Millionaire’s Pie,” a classic no-bake dessert featuring a charming mixture of Cool Whip, crushed pineapple from a can, and condensed milk. The search for a gorgeous Hawaiian dessert continues…
My VENUS crew at CKUT will be broadcasting live tomorrow from 12-2pm at my home away from home, Depanneur Le Pick Up! We’ll be spinning lots of rad lady jams, eating cupcakes, and selling awesome t-shirts. Montreal friends, stop by and hang out with us! Consider it the perfect soundtrack to your lunch hour.
This Monday, June 25, I will be throwing a lush Provençal summer feast with my buddies from Kinfolk Magazine! (See their announcement here). My best lady and celebrated chef Michelle Marek (FoodLab) will prepare the meal, inspired by the wild, aromatic garrigue of the Provençal landscape. The highlight will be a Provençal-style Grand Aïoli, featuring local produce from Birri Et Frères. And it will all be held at the beautiful new bar Alexandraplatz as a post-St. Jean Baptiste celebration. (Ahem, dancing afterward!)
We will be joined by co-host Theo Diamantis of Oenopole, who imports one of my most treasured summer wines, the Domaine du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé. (I’ve been writingabout themquite a bit!) Private wine importer Kermit Lynch has called the wines of Gros ‘Noré “magnificent Bandols made in the simplest manner, très franc de goût, with a whole lotta soul.”
This will be a Kinfolk-inspired evening of feasting, wine, laughter, and friends! We are thrilled to present the dinner at Alexandraplatz, one of the newest and most inspiring spaces in our neighborhood, and feature so many talented members of our food and arts community.
As a final note: We released the information for the Kinfolk dinner a few days ago, and I have been stunned by the response — it sold out (and then some) in a matter of hours. I’m thrilled by the level of response, and it has moved me and Michelle to take on more projects in the future. But for those who are patiently on the waiting list, some reassurance: the bigger, badder “official” Kinfolk gala will actually be held this September at the brand-new, stunning PHI Centre space in Old Montreal, so drop me a message anyway and I’ll keep you posted about future events.
To say this is a personal event that speaks to the depths of my heart is an understatement. I feel incredibly honored to work with so many extraordinary people and businesses, and just so happy that the dinner reflects so personally my own interests and passions. (I mean, really: how many times have I written about aioli, you know?) Now, if only I knew what to wear…
The only downside to being in France for the last two weeks was missing a weekend-long event with Brooklyn chef and butcher Berlin Reed at Le Pick Up that I helped organize. And from all reports, it was a gigantic success! (Big thanks to Marc for taking control of this one). I posted a bunch of photos taken by oe of the students from the butchery workshop and the dinner the following night over at the Pick Up blog, if you’d like to take a peek.
And as for our next event… we have a sausage-making workshop with Bartek on Saturday! Yeah, it’s kind of non-stop awesometimes around here.
It’s finally here! Bartek Komorowski writes and stars in the latest installment of the popular “cooking” film series ‘Culinary Propaganda,’ directed by Matthew Rankin, Winnipeg-born, Montreal-based filmmaker. It also marks my acting debut. Fancy, I know.
I’ll just let the short film speak for itself — it’s, um, a little raunchy! — but it was a blast to make. (I could barely make it through a take without a severe fit of giggles). Love those guys, and congratulations to them for a work well done!
See the first two installments (on making brisket and Portuguese marinated green tomatoes!) here and here. For the full sausage making recipe, read Bartek’s instructions here. The best tip Bartek ever gave me for cooking sausages? Low and slow, for that enviable all-over golden coloring.
Montreal pals! If you’ve ever been curious about 1) sustainable farming 2) basics of butchery or 3) making your own bacon, then boy do we have a workshop for you. Brooklyn’s The Ethical Butcher will be traveling to Montreal for a special workshop and BBQ at Le Pick Up detailing the awesome processes behind hog butchery.
Email me if you’d like to register! (firstname.lastname@example.org) It’s going to be a night to remember. More info here.