Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Novel Ideas about Author and former Guest C.F. Dunn

My inn blog readers may have read of author Claire Dunn and her visit to Maine to research a novel she was preparing to write. Two guests, Dan and Karollynn Johnson, from (oddly) Johnson City, Tennessee presented me with that novel, MORTAL FIRE" upon check-in last week after reading my inn blog and Inn 's Facebook page.

Their reviews: "Tortuous," "A skillfully crafted story," "An ending that pulls everything together wonderfully."  This gift is one that I will enjoy as I had the pleasure of the author's acquaintance during her stay at The Inn at Long Lake.

 For a riveting read, Mortal Fire is truly your way to being "Dunn In" this Summer!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tribute to a Mentor (Part III): Chef Patrick Brideau

(From April 2012: For almost 15 years. Chef Patrick Brideau has made me laugh myself silly--and has taught me a lesson that was especially invaluable today. It was an honor to me when he donated his time and talents to feed the local Causeway Workers involved in the Naples Causeway Revitilization in April of this year.)        
Previously, I paid homage to two mentors with whom I worked at Phillips Exeter Academy during 1994-1997: Marshall Lyons and Carol Ann Edgerley. Sadly, these two role models of mine are not with us any longer, and yet I carry them with me every time I enter the kitchen at The Inn at Long Lake.

Another mentor that has made a marked influence on my life and career is my friend, Patrick Brideau. Patrick was the former Head Baker at Phillips Exeter and worked down the hall in a large bake shop (with his assistant Cindy) that fed the entire 800-1,000 students and faculty each day with fresh-baked muffins, breads, desserts, and homemade ice cream.
Arriving early each morning and departing early afternoon (baker's hours!), Patrick was a pleasure to work with as he was "un-shakeable" when the pressure was at a frantic pace (usually around serve time).

Patrick commanded my respect not only because he created freely using improvisation when things went "hoo-wee" (lol), but because he insisted that "losing your mind gets you nowhere fast." Many a time we younger, and less experienced, chefs were not so "contained" when the chaos started leaking into our production (the making of the food) or service (the plating and dispensing of our work for our guests to enjoy).  Even the slightest havoc creates a domino effect on the entire scene (enter high drama at its worst!) While I admit I am still working on not letting stress ruin the love and intention I place into creating the elements of hospitality, I hear Patrick's voice often. It often sounds like this: "Dude....dude....bring it in. Don't let the ship turn over. Dude...reel it in..." It helps to hear his voice in my head. It helps to know it is also a behavior that can be taught from within your own head---IF you can train yourself to respond that way.

Let's face it, folks. Life spins around---and at us---in such a furious, and crazy, way. I never thought that Life would be so busy--text messages, a phone in my pocket ringing, speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour, letters in a computer calling from a cyber-mailbox all day. It wears you down to a point where your physicality actually becomes detached from the moment you are supposed to be savoring and experiencing. Add lack of adequate sleep, or lack of faith or trusting in the Universal support (that gives us enough air every day to keep alive), and the un-awareness that support of friends and loved ones can be there for us when we need it, life can be pretty challenging at times!

Having experienced a meltdown or two during this, one of the most challenging times to run a small business, I was pretty hard on myself for being so emotional.  In its aftermath of shame that followed (I could barely face those who witnessed it all), I learned the lesson that Patrick had taught me 15 years after his words were spoken. It is this: Find a way to ground yourself when you are afraid. Take time each day to know WHAT that feeling FEELS like. When you can move yourself into that quiet place, it will provide you the peace to create, and share, and trust, and actually hear the breathe coming from your own physical body.

Take time to "reel it in" as my mentor and friend Patrick Brideau says. Remember: you are no good to anyone if you cannot offer the world a calm & centered YOU. And....when you are there, your true gifts can then be heard and shared!  Give yourself this gift, too. Whether you are baking, knitting, rocking a baby, or patting an animal---you will find this to be truth.

Keith A. Neubert

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let's Jump Up for Highballs!!

With Summer BBQ and lawn parties, the warm weather might make you and your guests a little thirsty for a cold drinkie. Through all the heat and the sultry laziness of the weekends, keep beverage service simple!

"Highballs" are a truly simple class of cocktails great for most sipping tastes. They are simple to learn because they are usually comprised of a portion of liquor and a mixer, be it carbonated or juice. Even easier is that your guest will tell you what they want--no fancy drink name to remember! YAY! For example, "Whiskey & Ginger (ale)," "Rum & Cola," "Vodka & 7up," and "Scotch and Soda" are some popular highball drinks.

These drinks are easy to make(come on! you really can play bartender!!). Fill a 12 oz. glass (or cup) with ice cubes (to the top, please---we have profit to consider! lol) Then, add a standard shot/pour of liquor (usually 1 oz. to 1-1/2 oz.), using a jigger or shot glass, if you are not fine-tuned on your "free-pouring." Fill to (almost) the top of the glass and serve with a straw or swizzle stick. No fancy Tom Cruise mixing required. You do not have to even stir the drink you have created!

Some Highball drinks are served with a garnish, some do not. As a rule, a CLEAR liquor (rum, vodka, gin, and tequila) and a CLEAR mixer (7up, soda) are will be presented with either a lime or lemon wedge squeezed and dropped into the drink prior to service. (Some barkeeps like to cut a notch in the wedge of fruit and hang it on the rim of the glass/cup for the guest to squeeze their own.) So.....rum and soda, vodka & tonic, tequila and 7up would all taste and look fantastic with a colorful piece of fruit in or on.

Many dark liquors (scotch, whiskey, bourbon, etc.) highballs do not generally get a garnish. Mind you, a twist of lemon peel (the fruit removed from the lemon) can zip up a scotch & soda as twwwwwiiiiisssssting the lemon peel into the drink (and gently wiping the lemon oils within the rind that are set free) is a "zesty" (lol) way of ramping up the flavor of quite a simple drink. Other drinks like Rum & Coke (exception to the clear/clear rule, sometimes get a lime, if requested) .

Remember: any of the top shelf (more expensive) brands can be served. These may be called for by name with the mixer your guest would like. For example, Bacardi & coke,
Dewar's & soda, Stoli and Cranberry Juice. Try to serve the better quality of liquor at your gatherings. They are worth the extra $3.00 or so.

Some highballs might have a simple recipe but it is the seasoned barkeep that doesn't get thrown by a name given to a simple drink. Some of them are simple highballs with an automatic garnish included. You will find them simple once you know their easy names! Some named ones are:
*CAPE CODDER: vodka and cranberry juice with lime squeeze
*CUBA LIBRE: rum and cola with lime squeeze
*SCREWDRIVER:  vodka and orange juice
*SLOE SCREW: sloe gin liqueur and orange juice
*SLOW COMFORTABLE SCREW: sloe gin liqueur, Southern Comfort, and orange juice
*MADRAS (like the Indian blanket):  vodka, orange juice, and cranberry juice
*SEABREEZE: vodka, grapefruit juice,and cranberry juice with lime squeeze
*HAWAIIAN SEABREEZE (I love these!): vodka, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice (no lime)

Twelve ounce glasses may be too small for some groups (too dainty) so just add more mixer if using a larger serving glass. Fill with ice, add a portion of liquor, and fill with mixers.....stick a straw in it, garnish, if necessary, and BingBadaBoom!---positively simple!!Remember: serving alcohol requires a responsible hand. Your friends and the neighborhood will appreciate your prudent serving practices!  Pick up a book on basic mixology and read up on all the various cocktails, including highballs. They will be a simple way to play bartender that does not require anything but a smile and a straw!

Happy sipping!
Keith A. Neubert, Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake, Naples, Maine.