Memories of a Season Past

Living the Ridgway by Tony Ridgway

I asked for a busy year and that is exactly what we got -- and what we needed! The hectic pace began in October and peaked from mid- February to the end of March. My staff did a great job (I'm amazed how easy they make it look) and we were glad to serve more new customers than ever before!

My wife, Wynne, has created a beautiful garden that was much in demand this season. Wynne's garden was much in demand and deservedly so. Even the few disagreeable guests could not put a damper on the positive effect created by its beauty. Someday I'll write the real chapter on those unique individuals.

I keep trying to convince everyone that hard work is fun. It certainly can be productive. Being the workaholic that I am, I already miss the March pace. BRING IT ON!

I watched Sanjay Gupta on CNN news this past Sunday. He had a piece on Nathan Mhyrvold and his culinary antics. He is the latest to buy into molecular gastronomy. He has written a five or six volume tome on the subject, which he proudly sells for some $600. By sheer weight it is worth it.

The specific piece talked about preparing the perfect burger - a subject dear to my heart. First they dipped the burger in liquid nitrogen to create a crisp shell on the outside and then cooked it sous vide to finish with the perfect pink center. Not sure Wynn's, Fresh Market or Whole Foods has a liquid nitrogen isle. Sous vide cooking has it's place. It can do wonders for rare duck.

My method is simple. Use a black iron pan, season well, sear it hard and know how to cook!!!! End of subject.

I did something that I've never done before. I took the rack of lamb off the menu because availability and price became a serious issue. Both Australia lamb racks, which I like and New Zealand lamb racks, which I don't like, have become so scarce they are not even available. That shortage pushed the price of domestic lamb to a frightening level.

I've had some good meals out on the few nights off these past months. I finally got to Angelinas in Bonita. I like my restaurants a little more fun and the menu a little more interesting. It is beautiful and the food is good; just not my personal style.

I also visited KC's American Bistro. Excellent entrées. I had a good talk with Chef/Owner Keith Casey. Nice to see another independent restaurateur who knows good food and makes it work.

I had dinner at Roy's at Bayfront; appetizers were good, but nothing separated them from anyone else. One entrée was simply over-cooked, the other was unrecognizable relative to what was ordered.

My executive sous chef, Michael Voorhis, and I and other Naples Originals' independent restaurants cooked for the trustees of the Naples Winter Wine Festival last Sunday. That was the day they distributed the funds from the Wine Festival to the children's charities. I made an Apple Galette, and Freddo Gelateria made cinnamon gelato to accompany.

Business is good, our health is good and life is wonderful.

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