Friday night (Saturday morning?) I didn't sleep well and ended up getting up about 7:00. LLT was already up. Soon everyone was up and we split up. While eridun and LLT went to Restaurant Depot to pick up a few pieces of equipment (a couple more chafing racks, a large bowl, containers for the salad dressing and sterno). feymaker and I headed straight to the Ihop and got the table. LLT and eridun headed met us at the Ihop and we had a good breakfast with a really motivated server (really he brought us ALL grits even though only 2 of us had actually ordered them...yumm grits) - he got a BIG tip. We stopped at Starbucks for coffees then headed to site.
Sadly, this year the decorating crew managed to miss the load in of the kitchen stuff. I don't know what happened, but they were LATE ;). But then we were early enough that the site cleaning crew was still there. So we cleaned out the cars (luckily the site has 2 rolly carts). Then while the rest of the gang organized the kitchen I headed out again. My first stop was the liquor store for Rum (151), Kaluha and Butane for the torch. Got the first two - but they didn't have butane. 2nd stop was a hardware store for rope lights, but no Butane again. I also picked up a roll of what I thought was duct tape, but turned out to be something else (I think eridun said it was gaffer's tape?). Then finally to Shopper's for ice and lighter fluid (again no Butane). Of course when I got back to the site and showed LLT what I'd gotten she said that the torch couldn't be filled with lighter fluid, so that was a bust. Oh well.
While I'd been gone the crew had been busy, setting up the dessert alcove with levels made of kitchen crates and covering them with fabric and setting up the kitchen tables. Before we knew it pinkribbonwench and cozit showed up to start in working as well. First thing feymaker made three apple braids, one of which we sent out to the decorating crew while it was still hot. Part of that was to make sure the ovens got turned on early and were working properly. The lentils also went on the stove to start cooking. Then on to the chopping. In addition to the gianormous bag of red onions that feymaker set to, we had carrots and potatoes that needed to be chopped, while some of the potatoes needed to be sliced finely (luckily we had a mandoline). Finally we had to chop the chicken into chunks. Of course, I say "we" like I was doing any of this. Nope, except for carrying food to the buffet I didn't touch a vegetable all day.
Don't get me wrong - I kept myself busy. First off I needed to make mini crustless cheesecakes. The problem with this is that we've managed to lose LLT's Microplane (I pause now for a moment of silence). This was about the time that museclio showed up. She asked what she could do and I said zest the limes. She came up with the idea of running out to Shopper's for a box grater, since she wanted a new one anyway. While she did that I started the rest of the cheesecakes. To flavor the cheesecakes I put in a good glug of the rum. So we tasted the cheesecake filling and decided that the first batch was good without the lime zest. We also decided that it was good enough that I should make two double batches instead of one. So I called museclio and asked her to get some more sour cream since I thought we'd only brought one of the tubs. By the time she got back I was in the midst of making the 2nd batch and that one had lime zest in it. I didn't taste the baked off cheesecakes so I'm not sure how much difference the zest made.
While the cheesecakes were baking I started working on the creme brulee which was our special treat for the kitchen staff. We actually ended up never baking the last tray of cheesecakes because by the time the cheesecakes and creme brulee were done enough to pull LLT needed the ovens to start baking the actual dinner. We intended to go back and cook the last tray of cheesecake after the last food came out of the oven but it just never happened.
So once the last of the desserts went into the oven I left the kitchen for my little alcove in the hall (behind the brig). There museclio and I started by filling small cups with a mock Tiramisu. "Mock" because rather than layers with lady fingers each cup only had one a butter cake, soaked in a combination of coffee, rum and kaluha then topped with the ricotta layer that feymaker had made for me. Then we filled eclair shaped pieces of choux paste with pastry cream - we stopped when we ran out of pastry cream with choux paste left over! Next we filled shot glasses with pistachio cream and pots de creme. When it came time to fill the cream puffs museclio and I decided that the cream cheese icing that I'd made would be a better filling then the lemon curd, but we also decided that it was a bit too sweet. So I doctored it with some more cream cheese, sour cream and rum. Finally we added the juice of about six limes to the batch and the filling came out tasty. museclio had to go do her "real" job of working with the entertainers and by this time I was in the midst of piping lemon curd into the mini filo shells. So pinkribbonwench gave me an assist by filling the cream puffs with the mixture (which eridun took to calling mojito cream). She'd also spent some time making nutella sandwiches by spreading nutella on meringues and sticking two together. feymaker and eridun also spent time helping out with both filling shot glasses and plating desserts. For a final step with the desserts I took a full quart of heavy creme and whipped it with some honey then piped it on top of the lemon curd and pots de creme.
Keep in mind that while I was working on all of this in the hallway LLT's kitchen crew was busy working their tails off making all the food that went on the buffet. There was chicken with Marsala sauce, roasted potatoes, grilled onions and mushrooms, noodles and roast beef. Plus salad with 3 kinds of salad dressings plus bread and butter (both plain and honey).
I'm not even sure who all did what in the kitchen other than that feymaker ended up in charge of the marsala sauce and cozit was an angel, spending most of her time washing dishes. As I say, I was too busy with the dessert bar. I do know that when Chris came in about 4 pm he said he felt like he was late (I'd put on the email to the crew that we needed them by 4 at the latest). It wasn't that he was late, it was that we'd all been busy. LLT said that actually Chris came in at a perfect time because he was fresh when the rest of us were tired and he was able to stand by the ovens for the rest of the night lifting pans.
Each of us also snuck out to go through the raffle room (although I had to practically force LLT out of the kitchen to do it). And of course eridun spent some time taking photos. I think she said at last count she had something like 400 photos - I've suggested that she let me put them on flickr to save the bandwith/storage on her website. I'll make a post when they are up. Of course LLT and I carried through with our usual luck - each of us put int $20 worth of tickets in the raffles and won nothing. However cozit won a big jar of honey and gave it to LLT so that was really cool. The other really cool thing is that I know that the hairstick went to a good home (where I might see it worn in the future) - museclio won it!
I got a treat as well - keltique gave me a very spiffy apron perfect for the event.
So once service started museclio took charge of making sure that the table was stocked, either letting us know what needed to go out or taking food out herself. eridun and I mostly concentrated on making sure that the dessert bar was kept well stocked - most of the time we replaced plates before they were even half empty.
To our surprise, the thing that we seemed to run through the most of? The salad - we came fairly close to running out - by the time people stopped eating we'd gone through ALL of the salad in the kitchen and there was less than 1/4 of a bowl left on the buffet. The other funny thing was that while museclio came back and said that there were people looking for the roast that was more "medium" (we served the majority of it at medium rare) she came back later and said people weren't taking the "medium" meat, they wanted the medium rare.
The food seemed to go well, I only got a couple of comments later. 1) faireraven's mother-in-law said that the mushrooms tasted weird to her - to the point she couldn't eat them. It wasn't until I tasted some on Sunday morning that I realized that what she was tasting was the thyme which was put on with a fairly heavy hand. 2) feymaker said that some people didn't really like the roasted potatoes since they found them a bit hard. Funny - people keep telling us that this crowd likes roasted potatoes and that's what they were. Last year we served potatoes that had not been roasted (due to the ovens issue) but were cooked in a butter sauce. I guess people liked those better. 3) Someone mentioned that there were a lot of "creamy" desserts this year that would have done better with small spoons. That would have to do with our serving the pots de creme and the pistachio cream (plus some of the tiramisu) in 2 oz shot glasses. Another point on that was we didn't get around to deciding what ALL of the desserts were early enough to get Dee to making the signs. So there was one sign that said "mini cheesecakes are gluten free" but no other signs. This caused people to not eat the pistachio cream as much because they didn't know what it was. To a person, everyone who I actually said "this is pistachio cream, do yourself a favor and have some" tried it and loved it, but those who didn't know what it was seemed to stay away from it.
As far as I can tell the only real issue the entire night was with the Alaska Bombe. Against my better judgment LLT was trying it for the FIRST time that night - you guys all know how much I HATE that. Well the kitchen was warm so feymaker had a hard time getting the meringue to peak. Then LLT couldn't get it to flame when it was presented. She made up for it by taking the table some of the creme brulee when it was done, but still I'm not thrilled about it.
The other issue is that by the time LLT toasted the sugar on the creme brulee the Pyrates Royale were onstage so the Captain didn't get his dish until after the last song of the night. He seemed to really appreciate it though.
The worst part of the night is that I went to move a chair by the dessert table as I was packing some things up and didn't realize that feymaker's leg was in the way so I banged the chair into her knee. This caused issues because her knee was already acting up anyway. She ended up being down for the count for the remainder of the night - which made her feel guilty for not being able to help with the load out. I keep telling her she did enough during the last two days to make the rest of us more than happy with her, but she seems to have problems believing me.
The good thing is that the kitchen crew did a fabulous job with cleaning to the point that we were able to sit outside and watch the last bit of the jam session at the end of the night with feymaker, eridun, LLT and me sitting on the fireplace to finish out the night. Once the lights came up we finished packing up the food and started the load out. We gave faireraven the great majority of the dessert leftovers so she could take them into her office.
Everything got loaded into the cars and we all headed for home, where we sat up decompressing for a while before all getting to bed somewhere around 1 am.
Sunday was a recovery day with much napping, eating and watching of tv/movies. feymaker headed home around 2ish I think? and eridun headed home around 7:30. I think today is going to be more of the same.
All in all things went fairly well. If you count the things that LLT turned in receipts for we came in about $14 over budget (IIRC $800). I'd say that between us LLT and I spent an additional $150-200ish on stuff we didn't turn in receipts for (food table/dessert area decorations and most of the dessert supplies).
edited: the weirdest thing of all? I actually did something I NEVER do - at the end of the evening I made myself a plate of food - salad, noodles, beef and chicken. I can never face the thought of eating more than nibbles after a feast kitchen but for some reason the idea of both the noodles and the salad was really good to me and I felt the need - of course part of that might be skipping lunch.
The important part of all this? We raised over $10K this year (in a bad economy) for Breast Cancer research - in one night!