Monday, April 24, 2006

All this and a social life too...

The first week starting up the food cart again was crazy hectic but I can tell already that this year is going to be much smoother than the last two. Much of this has to do with the kitchen I use. See, I am not allowed to actually prepare food in the food cart. Funny, huh? I can assemble pre-cooked items like burritos, but the prep has to be done in a certified kitchen, i.e. a restaurant kitchen or any other facility that serves food to the public and is inspected by the health department. I know people will wonder so I'll answer up front. Yes, you can have a certified kitchen in your house but then you can't cook food for yourself in the certified kitchen so you'd have to have 2 kitchens. This is only one of the many, many rules that rule my life.
This is my third year in business (2nd full-time) and I have changed kitchens every year. This entails paying the health dept. $450 everytime they need to check out a new kitchen for you. I mistakenly thought that since I had worked in restaurants in Madison for quite a few years that it would be no problem finding kitchen space to rent. Ha! That's before I knew all the regulations. If the kitchen doesn't have a diswasher, they need a seperate prep sink, handwashing sink, mop sink and three basin sink for dishwashing. This is a fairly new regulation and some older restaurants have been grandfathered in and do not need to upgrade. Unfortunately, If I want to come in and use their facilities, I would have to upgrade because I am NOT grandfathered.
The point of this diatribe is that I think I have finally found a good fit as far as kitchens are concerned. In the new kitchen, I can get things delivered, they do my dishes for me sometimes, parking is not an issue, they make really fabulous food and it's nice to be around good cooks, I can prep before and after I am out selling my food so I don't have to get up ridiculously early, the list goes on and on...
So Saturday morning was the first day that I had to let myself in before anyone else was there. Farmer's market starts at 6 AM and I try to be in my spot on Capitol Square as early as possible. I went in and started my blueberry sauce for crepes and went out to the storage room to grab my spice mix for potatoes. Click. The door latched behind me. I reach for my pocket and knew instantly that my keys were in on the prep table. I was locked out. With something cooking on the stove. And the only person who's full name that I knew was the one who had given me his key. Gaaahhh!!!!! I won't bore you with the details but it was 45 minutes before I got back in and the bluberries were cinders and the kitchen was completely filled with smoke. Not the best way to pay someone back for graciously allowing you to use their kitchen! Hopefully the summer can only get better from here.
I went to bed on Saturday at 7 PM and slept for 12 hours but it's a good sign that I felt like hanging out on Sunday night. We went to a cookout with the Sunday Night Club. (Hi guys!) Here's some pictures of the grub.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Shrimp and Grilled AsparagusCorn Salad with pepper, garlic and jalapenos
Lime meringues with Mango Passionfruit Gelato and Blueberry Sauce (Luckily all the bluberries didn't go into the pan the first time!)

I promise to tell you more about the food cart logistics and further thoughts on mahlab, ect. so please be patient and check back...


At 11:18 PM, Blogger Tea said...

Oh, no. Perhaps I've passed the locking oneself out bug to you. If so, I am sorry:-) Glad you got back in before more than the blueberries were burnt!

I can't wait to hear more about the cart (what do you serve? does it change regularly?). And those cookout photos are delicious looking! Any chance you might pass the recipes along to us as well?

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