I've peeled about two pounds worth, and have a bushel of parsnips to attack in the meantime. But where I really want to be is with the sous-vide machine, currently holding a giant heart of chevaline. And for those of you who don't mask what you eat behind fancy French words, yes, we are talking about horsemeat.
"So does this mean we have to toss them?"
"No, but we'll have to find something else to do with them." His bright blue eyes look over the kitchen, scanning the equipment, reconsidering the menu. "Where are the vegetable peelers, d'you think?"
Knives get put away, peelers come out. Geddes has me peel the parsnips into long thin strips. He brings a deep pot of frying oil to a high heat, then plunges the parsnip ribbons into the pot. They sizzle, crisp up, and come out as sweet and crunchy as fried wontons.
These will be nibbled in the kitchen, but eventually heaped over giant platters of horse brisket, tossed with the roasted cipollini onions and roasted root vegetables, and dolloped with homemade tonka hollandaise. I was put on garnish duty, piling them on top like mountains of onion rings.
Ian, Geddes's brother and sous chef for the day, puts me to work as the diners come in. There is a giant bowl of horse tartare, ready to be scooped and rolled into quenelles and slathered on toast. Ian shows me how to scoop the two spoons together, demonstrating until I reach a smooth rhythm of my own. Ian watches me get my stride, and helps to keep my size standard. He's got a winking disposition that makes me worry he's laughing at this city girl who thinks she's a cook.
What really ends up blowing my mind is the precision and certainty that my fellow chefs carried with them throughout this meal. Ian knew that the roasted vegetables weren't quite ready to come out; Geddes knew just how much sauce to include when serving the brisket; and even when Ani's semifreddo weren't perfectly firm, she took advantage of it to help wedge her roles of pastry into place. I'm hoping to pick up some of this certainty, to know that, Yes, this dish is ready, before I get it ready for the serving. Or at the very least, to look at a parsnip gone to seed and not see it as a total loss, but instead as possessing all kinds of new pleasures...
(photographs courtesy of the NY Gastronauts).