Preliminary Menu For Saturday Market

I have been working on this for a few days now.  And while the menu has at times ballooned up on me I have pretty manageable now.  That was due to my constant refrain “keep it tight, keep it easy’.

In theory this plan will work out, but in practice well . . . .  Hopefully it won’t go completely pear shaped-as the Brits say.

For breakfast I plan to do mostly burritos-similar to the ones El Burrito Loco in Gresham, OR serves.  They are massive affairs-I would be stuffed after eating half.  I continued to until nothing was left because-it was the awesome.  I miss those burritos.  In addition I am thinking of biscuits and gravy.  At least come October they will be added.  There will also be a secret menu-ala In & Out Burger-of biscuit sandwiches.

Come lunch time will be the usual suspects of burgers and brats.  And there will be chicken wraps and a salad of two.  But the secret here will be the rubs and BBQ sauces I make.

There might be some problems transitioning from breakfast to lunch but happens in stand alone restaurants.

I went to the Health Dept today and they told me what was required and they said they would work with me to on what was possible.  The guy told me he visited farmers markets around the midwest and wondered how long until Quincy got food stands in its market.  Well here is hoping to this year.

I can’t wait.

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New Food Stand Coming Soon

For the last two days I have been working on a business plan to open a food cart and a food stand.  I even played hooky from work.  I feel a little guilty about that, but not enough to go to confession.

The plan calls for a food cart to be set up semi-permanent through the week and then have a stand at the Farmers Market on Saturday.  Apparently this will be the 30th season.  Way to go Quincy Farmer’s Market.

I have been working on a menu for the last three or four hours.  It has not been easy balancing taste with what is possible to do in outdoor conditions.  Then there is considering how to much to pack into the park and how to get it out of there.

My mantra has been ‘keep the menu tight’.  I have a tendency to cook up all kinds of wild dishes with exotic tastes.  But I am in small town Midwest and so I have to tone it done.  I can’t be Spinal Tap and turn it up to 11-though that would be so awesome.

For the lunch menu there are burgers and brats and chicken salad wraps.  But I still want to jazz them up.  The menu isn’t too broad and I am considering salads.

The breakfast menu is small, only breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy.  I am not sure how the biscuits and gravy will sell.  On cold days I am sure they will fly out of the stand, but warm days . . . .  I guess I could use them for skeet shooting once they get really hard.   I think the burritos will sell no matter the weather.  But we shall soon see.  Maybe I could do breakfast biscuits.  That could work.

All I know is that I finally feel alive again.  Since leaving the cafe I have felt sad and numb.  And working in the pizza place hasn’t been the most rewarding experience.  The only reason I have stayed this long is because of my father.  The only plus to the place is I get to spend time with my dad.  I work mostly nights so I can see him in the morning and have a cup of coffee and talk about the world, or books, or movies, or nothing.  But as for any satisfaction beyond that, there is none.  I have felt it was time to leave and do something else almost from the moment I walked back into the place.  I feel so old some days working with people so young.   And they seem so disconnected from the reality in front of them.  Not all of them, of course, but a great many.

So I am looking forward to telling the boss that I have a new venture.  I can’t wait to explore the possibilities.  Besides the kitchen at the pizza place reaches 120 degrees plus.  I won’t miss that.

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New Foods-I Am All In

I think the last new food I tried was mozzarella cheese and prosciutto ham wrapped together in a log shaped configuration.  It was heaven,  The creamy richness of the cheese mixed with the saltiness of the prosciutto was a wonderful taste.  Another new food I had the pleasure of eating was the Monte Cristo Sandwich-WOW!!

This sandwich was one of the most salacious, decadent, and sinful pleasures I have ever experience.

It all started when I lived in Portland.  On Belmont St.-on the East side of the Willamette River-stood an old icon of Portland dining, The Monte Cristo.  People would often tell me I had to eat the sandwich there, as” it was out of bounds”.  “It was a home run on a bun”. “And I could die in peace knowing I had the best sandwich ever created”.  I always thought Dagwood Bumstead‘s sandwiches were some of the best ever created, but of one can’t eat a cartoon drawing.

However before I had a chance to try this Portland “must have” icon, the place burned down.  Luckily no one was in the place.  I did kick myself for not getting down there.  Happily the owners eventually moved to a location in Gresham-just outside Portland-near to where my house was.  Thank goodness America is the land of second chances.

Sadly I missed my second chance.  The new place closed down within 6 months.  I kicked myself again.  All this kicking was becoming tiresome and potentially could lead to cramps and disjointed joints.  So I vowed to eat the Monte if this place ever opened again.  It didn’t happen.

As is often the case, life got in the way.  Work, school, travel, and family obligations all conspired to make me forget about the sandwich.  Perhaps forget is too strong a word.  De-emphasize would be a better word.  Soon the sandwich was on the lowest rung of things to get to list.  Years went by with nary a thought of the Monte.  Then I got the chance to open my own restaurant and the sandwich regained prominence on the list.

One of the great things about opening a restaurant, whether as owner or worker, is eating all the dishes.  Cooks practice making them and it is a shame to just throw them away.  Besides the waiters need to be able to explain the awesomeness of the menu items.  The weeks leading up to “going live”  are fat and happy ones.

There was one little draw back to putting the Monte Cristo on the menu-I didn’t know what it was.  In all the years since I first heard of it I never bothered to discover what it consisted of, or how to make one.  So I hit “the tubes” to discover what a Monte was.

I dam near ended up in traction from kicking myself for not discovering earlier what this sandwich was all about.  On the Google I found myself staring at pictures and reading descriptions of what has to be the world’s most perfect sandwich.  It is as if some demented genius mashed breakfast and lunch together.  According to that genius was some French cook who invented the  Croque Monsieur, with an assist from Walk Disney who made the American version popular in the 60’s selling it at The Blue Bayou in Disneyland.

I couldn’t wait to begin making this sandwich at the cafe.  I believe it was the first item I made in the run-up to opening.  It was so naughty and sinful I had to go to confession the next day.  Unfortunately, for my mortal soul, I have sinned so many times eating this sandwich that I just gave up the confessional.

In the version the cafe served, we took two pieces of Texas Toast drenched them in egg wash ala french toast.  As the toast was cooking up we grilled ham and turkey, hand cut fresh.  After turning the toast over to cook we loaded the finished sides with grated cheddar cheese, before piling on the mounds of ham and turkey.  Once it was finished cooking the sandwich was cut in half, dusted with powered sugar and served with the cafe’s home made maple syrup.  I am sure the local Catholic churches saw an up tick in confessional traffic the first month we were open.

The sandwich made my mouth water as I was cooking it.  And to taste it well a bib was required, at least for me.  The salty ham, the light turkey, mixed with the fried egg and sugar of the syrup was off the charts.  I was not alone in my assessment.  The Monte became one the Cafe’s biggest sellers.

Check out the various versions of this sandwich here.

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