Sunday, November 6, 2011

What You Desire

4:15 pm on Thursday.

The Osso Bucco had been braising for almost an hour now, and I was letting it go till 7:00 pm. Desirable anticipations of the sweet veal meat melting away from itself, in a pool of saffron risotto, set around an exquisite steeple of bone marrow. It will be beautiful. I mean, come on, what more could a party of 12 want tonight after a foggy Boston day!?

Wait, what do you mean you desire, lobster?

This is, in fact, exactly why I am here and offering up myself and my craft to do what I do best-- To cook what someone wants to eat. I honor that. So in that moment, standing in a large galley kitchen with swirling caramelized veal aroma around me, I did what any private chef would do. Traded kitchen clogs for running shoes, and apron for a purse, and down the dock I ran towards the main street of awaiting taxis.
I had been up making the perfect sofritto for my osso bucco since 9 am, and even my hair wreaked of simmering olive oil and sprigs of sage leaves. But I had just entered a whole new realm of chefing- the ultimate search and retrieve. Fresh local lobster is my mission, and I will succeed.

I quickly transformed into an aggressive machine that would do anything, and blow down anyone that stood in my way of getting my hands on a dozen Massachusetts lobsters. In mid-stride out of the yacht marina, my arm flew into the air and my gaze met that of a taxi driver. I was in.

"Boston Fish Pier, please" -I demand with an edge of girlish charm.
"Alright.... How you doin' today?' -my driver says to me as his eyes smile through the rearview mirror.
"I'm doing ok, my friend. But I am in an urgent and desperate need for 12 fresh lobsters, and I need your help. I need them fast, and I will pay you to keep the meter running while I get them"- I respond to my new partner in crime for Lobster mission 2011.
He picks up on my sense of urgency on the matter, and most likely smells the braised veal cologne I'm rockin'. He speeds up, and I fasten my seatbelt while digging out my phone from my back pocket.

I search for numbers of fish venders that now, at 4:30 pm, have all closed shop and gone home.
"OH, FOR F*** SAKE!!!" (my new English reaction to even the slightest bits of frustration, inspired by working alongside a handful of English sailors.) I say to myself while connecting to answering machine after answering machine.

I take notice that my choice of cab is a unique one- sharpie marker graffiti on the ceiling, "Nicole loves Vince!"-lovely.  The front passenger seat is pushed way up and awkwardly folded forward. A bag of chips and empty soda cans littered the floors and seats. My dear sidekick has taken this journey quite seriously as we weave through 5:00 pm traffic and running red lights, while offering each neighboring car a horn of awareness to our urgent mission. Growing up with three brothers and a littered childhood of nintendo-created-urban-car-chasing games, I'm surprisingly comfortable in this illegal, lane jiving, lobster pursuit. My law-enforcement brother, may not be fond of this story though...

I'm dropped off at one place near the water front. He speeds away to pull an illegal U-turn and prepare for an easy escape. Closed. "Oh, bollucks!" (another handy English habit.) The tires screech as he comes to a stop before me. On to the next.

Only 6 live lobsters left in the tanks, and I need 12. The chef over hears my worry as I explain to the woman behind the counter that I will take anything made of lobster at this point- Empty lobster shells? lobster juice? jello? I'll take it, seriously. They have 12 that are already cooked, and they'll sell them to me. Perfect.

.... the phone rings. The party has dropped down to 6 people now... great I'll just get 8 lobsters then.
 I inform the chef.
...Phone rings again- 4 people now.
"Oh for f*** sake!"

6 lobsters purchased.

Out the door. My driver makes eye contact with me from across the street. He points at me, as if to use some secret code language that only he and I know how to understand. Yes, my friend, I understand. Illegal U-turn and skid to the curb. I throw the lobsters in before me and tuck myself into the back seat. We did it.

While stuck in traffic on the way back to the marina, my partner in crime and I got more acquainted with each other.
He's from Haiti. So I then practice my french.
He inquires about my life as a traveling chef. I inquire about Haitian chicken recipes.
The meter reads $43. It's 5:45 pm

At the end of the road, I tip him for his kindness and support to my mission, and ask my sweet 280 lb Haitian taxi driver his name...
"My name is Desire."
"That's right, Deeeesire. And you just give me a call anytime you want help with something like this again. That was real fun."
"Well, Desire. It has been a pleasure to work with you, i'm happy i met you tonight. Thank you."

Our Icelandic deckhand has an apron on and is preparing the ingredients for my rissotto. Other crew are aiding in my absence in the kitchen as well. The table is set for eight..... Eight? Yes, eight. 10 minutes later and it's nine guests. By 7 pm, it's back to eleven guests for dinner. Six had lobster, and the others osso bucco- a win win.

I made chocolate pots de creme with vanilla poached mandarins for the end of the meal. Saved the lobster shells for a future bisque, and saved Desire's number away in my wallet. At the end of the night, everyone was happy, and many desires were met.

Dodging lobster baskets en route to Manhattan!
x -A

1 comment:

  1. I need to find your amazing cab driver, Deeeesire.
    You are amazing and I really want a taste of that Osso Bucco right now.
    Safe travels, wherever you are headed at the moment. Come back to Boston soon!