Saturday's dinner proves a new challenge: the kitchen on a wedding schedule. We're not going to be so focused on anticipating orders as we are with plowing through them. I wander through the property before my run to town, and the ceremony and reception tent are already in place. The dining room is decked out in all the colors of an Indian wedding, red and gold and saffron orange, and huge loops of jasmine flowers hang over each window.
It's nice to hear that I've got at least one reader for this project: I finally reach Mom as I'm going through the Island Market for soap to fix my dry skin. "I sent it to all my friends," she says. "It is so great that you got to do this--to try out a new career while still getting paid by your old one!
"Yes, Mom, it's great," I say, though I'm wondering how much of a career I could make out of this if I get so stressed out by a few tickets.
"I just gotta tell you that your blog is such a joy, and so spectacular...it must has suddenly gone viral because I've sent out the URL to everyone I know, and everyone is reading it and saying how great it is." I love how confident she is--and though in certain circles she could be the Kevin Bacon of Boston, what I'm really hoping is that the food writing world is reading it. Where are you, my twitter friends at food52? At The Kitchn? I need your support...
"I certainly hope you're right...otherwise I'd probably be better off spending my time reading while here."
"Just keep at it--you make it so vivid, it's like we're there. This may be the very best thing you could've done. What a great eye-opening experience, and what a little mini-sabbatical."
She's right about that--I'm seeing things a bit more calmly, less neurotically since I've arrived here. I can feel it in my bones, the relaxation that comes with finally being away from the city: I'm walking straighter and with less pain, a product of spending my entire 8-hour work shift on my feet, and my hair is growing faster than it ever has in the city. Is it the three square meals a day? The hour-long walks to and from town? Is the kitchen's conspiracy to fatten me up actually a good thing?
And I need it, because while the wedding reception doesn't start until 5:30, we've got plenty to do. I spend the morning sawing away at the slicer, cutting stale bread for croutons and hors d'oeuvres, which I then assemble with Geddes leading me--spreading chicken liver, cornichons, and pickled fennel onto crackers, and sprinkling chive flowers onto smoked salmon. We set up a station outside by the walk-in so we can load up trays as quickly as possible.
Piment d'Espelette, chicken liver, and spicy mussels with green garlic aioli for the waitstaff to take away. We have more vegetarians than we'd anticipated, so Geddes starts pulling flatbread pizzas from the oven, adored with fresh asparagus and herbs from the garden. Winfred and Molly start coming back from the reception with trays of empty oyster shells--one guest said that they were the best oysters he'd ever eaten in his life. I'm not surprised at all, and make a note to myself to make a day trip to Buck Bay, where we get our oysters, as soon as possible.
black japonica rice and roasted vegetables, Geddes slices the fish on top, and Angela adds a scoop of salad and drizzles aioli around the dish. Then they pass the plate up to me. I dollop some herbal emulsion on top of the aioli and scatter chive blossoms over the top, wiping the rim of the plate with a clean towel. The plate goes to Annie for a final check, and then out to the dining room. We repeat this with chicken breast and mashed potatoes, and with a creamy Parmesan-citrus risotto and raw vegetables. This course doesn't run as smoothly as the first one, mainly because people start changing their orders at the last second. We're watching for problem ingredients along the way--too soft potatoes, too juicy tomatoes--but somehow every dish goes out. And it leaves us with great stuff for family meal--tons of rice and risotto; juicy, buttery chicken; and lots of roasted asparagus and carrots.
And finally, the dessert is ordered up. Annie's made a special version of the cake, adored with wildflowers, for photographs, but we still need to slice up an enormous sheet cake, a sweet gingery pound cake with vanilla cream and rhubarb between the layers. On one side of the cold station, Wally and Chris drizzle rhubarb sauce and ginger-chamomile syrup onto the plate, and pass it to me to place three borage flowers around the plate. Geddes scoops out ice cream studded with candied ginger, and it goes out the door. We clean up in a frenzy, mainly so we can dive into the leftovers, and finally exhale.
Melissa and Chris are chatting on our porch, sharing some wine and laughing at the guests who are clearly on their fourth (or fifth) drinks, and smoking something sweet and woody on the lawn. Some of the guests dining in the restaurant last night were asking for a weed connection on the island, but I'm fairly certain we all demurred to provide an answer. Nevertheless, they seem to have found a source, and one guest stumbles out onto the porch of the reception room and does a full faceplant into the grass. He stands, laughs, and stumbles back into the hall to rock out to the Indian music. It's as though the Inn has become a private playground for the night, and I'm having a good time watching the show. Molly, who's on waitstaff for the dance party, fills my empty wine glass with a bit of prosecco. I salute her, and the guests, for a good night.