Saturday, March 3, 2012

Do you know who I am?


I was not blessed with wealthy parents so when I went to college I had to pay for everything on my own. That included getting a student loan and working to pay for living expenses. One of my first jobs in college was hosting at a well established Italian restaurant around campus. The manager who hired me was a straight shooting kind of guy. He had a booming voice and a commanding personality. He was a tough guy but he was also the sweetest man you can ever run into. If you needed anything he’ll be the first one to help you out. I would go into work for my shift and there would be a group of 5 guys with polished suites and gold jewelry (that included chains and pinky rings) always sitting at the corner table. It reminded me of a scene from a "Bronx Tale" or "Casino". These guys were friends of the manager and he would introduce me to all of them and say, "This is my new hostess Sarah, if any of these guys gives you a hard time you let me know". They would crack a few more jokes and get back to their conversations and their meal.

I was working a busy weekend shift one night and a customer came in to pick up a to go order. I didn’t really see what happened but this is what I heard:

Angry customer:I just gave you my credit card and you lost it. I want to speak to the manager

Server:I didn’t lose your credit card, but I’ll get the manager.

Manager:What seems to be the problem?

Angry customer:I just gave your server my credit card and he lost it. What are you going to do?

Manager:(talks to the server and the server says he gave the credit card back)
My server is telling me that he gave the credit card back to you.

Angry customer:Your server is lying; he didn’t give me back the credit card. He lost it. I want you to find my credit card and comp this meal.

Manager:My server said he did not lose your credit card and I am not comping your meal.

Angry Customer:Do you know who I am? Do you know where I work? I work at the board of Trade!

Manager:I don’t care who you are or where you work? Get out of my restaurant!

That’s the kind of guy the manager was. The manager knew that the customer was always right but if you were "his guy" he would stand by you no matter what. Even after I stopped working there and I saw him around the neighborhood he would say, "Sarah when are you coming back to work for me?" This place had the best Italian food I ever had and it would be great to see him when I make it back to my old stomping grounds. I want to pay homage to the no BS kind of manager at the best Italian restaurant in Chicago with this recipe.  My favorite item on their menu was the bruscetta.  The thing that made their bruscetta so amazing was the freshly shaved parmesan cheese instead of the processed cubed mozzarella that most places use.  It's not a fancy recipe but this is what I made for dinner after a long day and the last thing on my mind was to cook.

I went to the store today and found  some amazing heirloom cherry tomatoes.  This is what inspired me to make Bruscetta tonight.  I used 2 regular vine ripe tomatoes and about 8 heirloom cherry tomatoes.  Chop tomatoes and add 3-4 fresh basil leaves ( I learned that you are never suppose to put a knife to a basil or they will bruise but I chopped them anyway).  Add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Cut french bread on bias and brush them with olive oil.  You can rub garlic on them too for extra garlic flavor but I was feeling lazy today, so I skipped that step.  Put in 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  I personally don't like it when the bread get's too cripsy.  
Place tomatoe mixture on the toasted french bread and shave parmesan cheese on top!


French bread
2 vine ripe tomatoes
8 heirloom cherry tomatoes
3-4 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon of olive oil
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Dice tomatoes and place in bowl. Add minced garlic, olive oil, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and mix.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut french bread on a bias and place on baking sheet.  Brush bread with olive oil and place in oven for 5 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place tomatoe mixture on top of bread and shave parmesan cheese on top.

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