Sunday, March 21, 2010

Leaving Gracie's

This past Wednesday Steve and I went in to Gracie’s for a glass of wine at the bar as a sort of final farewell.  Interestingly, being St. Patrick’s Day AND the first round of the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament in Providence, traffic was a sight to behold!  It took us 6 light changes to even get through the intersection just before Gracie’s, where fortunately we then took advantage of the valet parking.

Whew!  We ordered two glasses of Westport Rivers sparkling wine and decided we would each have a bowl of Gracie’s signature rigatoni for our supper. 

Following the amuse bouche of marinated yuzu fruit we were treated to seared scallops with a cauliflower couscous with pine nuts and currants. Our palates were refreshed by a cool and creamy yuzu sorbet, after which we proceeded to dive into our large bowls of rich, piccante rigatoni.  We could only eat a small portion of the generous servings, giving us plenty of leftovers for lunch. 

Dessert came next, the tart du jour for Susan, a light coconut cream served with cinnamon ice cream, and crème brulee for Steve.  We enjoyed every bite.

We chatted with Ellen, Gracie’s owner, for a bit before our meal, and she encouraged me to “write on the wall” before I left for Paris.  This has become a Gracie’s tradition over the years.  When an employee moves on from their work at Gracie’s they often write some pearl or sentiment on the kitchen wall to leave their mark, as it were.  I had some thoughts already written down, so I went in on Friday morning, as Danielle and Melissa were starting their workday.  I had decided that the wall downstairs over the pastry table was a fitting spot for me, as opposed to the general kitchen wall upstairs, since I had done so much of my work over the last 2+ years in that space.

Here is what I wrote: 

“Ah, how I love the feel of cool, smooth dough, the aromas of baking wafting from the kitchen, the flavors and textures of an oh so delicious dessert.  It’s been a true adventure and a learning experience unlike any thus far.  I’ve given it my all, and now it’s time for me to go.  May your days be luscious and your nights even more so.  And . . . always save room for dessert!  Your pastry chef, Sweet Nell.”

I added to my note higher up on the wall: “For J.H. wherever you are, I’ll see you Wednesday at  1pm  S.V.” 

Chef Joe Hafner and I met regularly in the early months of my employment, although the regularity of our meetings varied after I got to know the routines a little better.  We used to have a running joke about “meeting on Wednesday at 1pm” since for any number of reasons our meetings often got postponed.

And there you have it. 

To Chef Joe and Ellen: Thanks for everything.

No comments: