Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why I Took Your Favorite Dish Off the Menu

Before you get mad at me, let me say a few things.

Complacency is bad. I truly believe that. Routine numbs us, mind and body; it narrows the aperture of our experiential lens, shutting out light we need to guide and feed us. Complacency is a UV-reflecting gray bubble of protection we build around ourselves, yet most accidents happen at home, near home, on the job, or in our cars. Those are the venues of routine, right? So be safe, for your own sake, and break with routine. Here are thirteen lucky suggestions from me, the chef-owner, family-guy, and thrillseeker emeritus:

1. Go to Paris for the weekend. If the Euro is too strong, which it is, go to Quebec City or Montreal.
2. Splurge on one great meal you will never forget.
3. Drive an hour in the direction of your choice. Get out of the car. Do something there. Drive back. (If you’re in the Seacoast area, avoid a due east heading.)
4. Spend twenty dollars more on a bottle of wine than you usually do. Taste the difference.
5. Go to a church service of a religion you do not believe in.
6. Visit that place you’ve always wondered about.
7. Volunteer at a nursing home, hospital or prison.
8. Ride your bike to work one day.
9. Plant seeds and water them. When they grow up, give your friends the fruits of your labor.
10. Learn a new language. Speak it badly, but speak it.
11. Go for a walk in a “bad” part of town. Bring your cell phone, if you’re scared.
12. Try the food you most dislike again, just in case you don’t dislike it anymore.
13. Sky dive, scuba dive, race cars, climb mountains, explore caves, dance, sing and educate yourself.

No school can do these things for us. No job can provide access to all these avenues of experience. We have to access them ourselves. So do it, as they say at Nike.

In the end, we should come back to what is important to us, but to experience the most out of life should be the fundamental desire of everyone. Obviously, it is not. So, adventurers unite. Preferably at Black Trumpet. Our new Spring Menu is coming soon!

Sorry for the diatribe. The above philosophy guides menu-making for me. Seasons bring new weather, new crops, and—for me—new ideas. Some past ideas that have pleased a great many people have already resurfaced at Black Trumpet. Over time, others will evanesce and reappear when their season calls for them. But with my unquenchable thirst for knowledge, my biological predilection for change, and our customers’ collective response to menu changes we have undergone thus far, I will continue to lure leery traditionalists with new dishes, get them hooked, and then remove them, not out of malice, but out of respect for ingredients and the seasons where they belong.

So, when faced with a dish coming off the menu--like the famous radicchio salad, for example--may I boldly suggest that, rather than mourn its loss, you might try a new dish. Broader horizons make bigger sunsets. Oooh, bumper sticker! Bumper sticker!

See you soon,


P.S. – We just took our first vacation as restaurant owners—Denise and I with our dynamic offspring duo—to the southernmost tip of the East Coast. The Everglades and Florida Keys were wonderful, but the best part of our trip was that our kitchen—under the leadership of Sous Chef Mike Piergrossi—and our dining room—headed up as always by lovely Lennie Blace Holt—ran as well without us as it did with us. We are very proud parents to return and find our one-year-old well cared for. Thanks again to all our staff for being so incredibly dedicated and caring.