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Posts Tagged ‘fish’

An update is long overdue, I know. I’ve been so exhausted and sometimes the thought of catching everyone up on my comings and goings at school overwhelms me and I take a nap instead. (Shrug) Don’t judge me.

My friend, Joy, who is visiting, laid on the guilt today (“I’M TELLING ALL MY FRIENDS ABOUT YOUR BLOG SO YOU BETTER UPDATE IT IT!”) so I guess I better post to shut her up.

Here are some highlights:

The first of two fish days was rough for me. Nothing actually went terribly wrong. Our bass en papillote (cooked in a sealed paper package) puffed up perfectly and was cooked properly and the caper, lemon, butter sauce over our fried trout was well seasoned, but there was always something. The plates we served the bass on weren’t hot enough. (HOT FOOD, HOT PLATE!) The croutons on our trout were just a shade too brown. Coupled with what felt like Chef M. picking on me all day, I had one of those days that I had to will myself not to burst into tears out of frustration.

It sounds a little melodramatic, I know, but when you’ve been sweating and running around and slicing your fingers open over a boiling hot stove, a dark crouton feels like a big deal. So before I go completely mental, I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that most of the time, especially at this stage of schooling, there will be something. The point is to minimize the somethings to the best of my ability. FINE…moving on.

The second fish day I learned how to clean a fish from top to bottom, snipping off the fins, scaling it, removing guts, and filleting. I got an eye full of scales (painful) and kept commenting on how smelly other people were in line at the bank before I realized that it was me…

Another noteworthy day was shellfish day, very dramatic and easily one of the most luxurious days I’ve had at school. I KILLED A LOBSTER! WITH MY BARE HANDS! Well, my hands and a giant chef’s knife. Chef M. kindly gave us the option of killing our lunch one of two ways: dumping it in a broth and covering it with a lid (nice and clean, like an assassin’s work) or plunging a knife into the back of the moving, live lobster’s head and then bring the edge of the knife through its head (messy and intimate, like a crime of passion). The head wasn’t difficult, but the body was a little tougher as the lobster was still feistily moving and curling its tail and I was attempting to chop it in half. Then when I finally did succeed in dividing the corpse in half, it, um, kept moving. Like, a lot. Like, even with the two halves were on opposite ends of my chopping board. Weird.

Last Friday was my most successful day yet. The first day that all my dishes passed with no criticism and no real criticism while I was working either. I learned how to quarter a chicken and remove the breasts and legs from a duck. With no time to eat, I ended up bringing the lot home and serving it with rice pilaf for dinner. Economical AND easy!

Okay, I’m sleepy now and have to get up early in the morning. I’ll write more tomorrow. I promise.

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Mermaid Inn

Mermaid Inn
568 Amsterdam Avenue (bet. 87th and 88th Streets)
212-799-7400

I wanted to love it. I really, really wanted to love it. I had read so many good things about it. I love seafood. I love finding great seafood joints that I don’t have to drive 2+ hours for…I might have to keep looking.

There was nothing terribly wrong with my experience at Mermaid Inn. No hair in my food, no salmonella poisoning or anything. It just wasn’t great and in a city like New York, you’ve gotta be great to get my attention (read: money) on more than one occasion. LL Cool J’s “Momma said Knock you Out” playing on full blast didn’t really help either.

Matt and I started off the meal with a dozen oysters. I’m not sure what the root of that myth is that you shouldn’t have oysters in any month without an “r” (a more complex way of saying, don’t eat oysters in late spring/summer). So far I’ve consumed about three dozen oysters or so this summer. All delicious. Anyway, these were no exception. But it’s tough to assess the real cooking chops of a restaurant by its mignonette.

Since they have no desserts, everything came down to the main course. I had the summer shrimp risotto with cockles. It had a similar texture to farro or barley “risotto”, which I do not enjoy, made all the more unappealing by the roughly chopped herbs in it (basil and parsley) and shard-like slivers of lemon peel. The shrimp and cockles were small and, strangely enough, added little to the dish. The flavor overall was fairly bland, overly herby, and only mildly lemon-y with little to no salt. Thank god they have salt cellars on the tables.

Matt had the whole fish, which that night was sea bass, roasted with herbs and fried chunks of potato. This dish was more successful. The fish was crisp and not overwhelmed by the herbs. The potatoes were crunchy and salty. The dish was good, but nothing so special as to warrant a hurried return.

Oddly enough, as I mentioned earlier, the Mermaid Inn doesn’t offer dessert, but with the bill comes a n espresso cup of gelatin-ized chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. It was okay, but I would have preferred something more special and delicious.

In fact, that sums up the experience pretty well.

Overall, it was okay, but I would have preferred something more special and delicious.

Dinner for Two:

1 Dozen Oysters – $25

Summer Shrimp Risotto – $21

Whole Roasted Fish – $23

Bottle of Muscadet – $26

Total (excluding tax and tip) = $95

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