Monday, May 26, 2008

How Do I Love Cooking....Let Me Count The Ways....

Ah yes, it has been a while, but now the semester has finished, and I have another job, for summer and beyond. Before the end of the school year, I did manage to make it to Emery's for several more lunches. These included a delicious Thai curry dish and on another day, some succulent roast pork; unfortunately my last meal there left me hungry.... My husband had a huge, scrumptious crab and shrimp salad. The lady next to me had a huge bowl of some kind of pasta. The guy to my left had a large, fat-dripping andouille sausage. I was served five little bay scallops and eight miniature gnocchi with tomato sauce. It all tasted good, but the forced diet-sized portion left me so hungry that I had to eat more at my favorite Coeur d'Alene latte stop, Bella Rose. Oh well, next semester my teaching will be in Sandpoint, ID, so I'll have an opportunity to find more interesting eateries and food hangouts.

Since I'm only a part-time instructor, I began thinking about a second or even summer job to keep me busy and supplement my income. Luck came my way right here in my little home town and I jumped at a local opportunity to work as a "chef." Recently returning to his hometown after many years' absence, my new "boss" took over a local pizza place and preceded to turn it into a delicious and cozy local bistro (keeping the pizza, of course). Several soups, a small variety of sandwiches, and specials dependent on seasonal foods make up the menu. He is also a self-trained chef and I think his food is wonderful. Together we try to cook food that will make the customers says "wow!" And I am having way too much fun. I have to pinch myself to make sure it's real.

I just love spending hours in the kitchen: prepping, cooking, creating new recipes. And my boss, Mark, is a delight: creative, humorous, genial, gracious, and just a dear person. He owns the place with his niece, Tracy, who is the front room person that everyone falls in love with. Indeed, the entire staff is great, but I think that's because Mark and Tracy set the tone to make this a hard-working but friendly place to be. And the food is excellent!

Although quite small, the location is town center. Originally they thought it would just be a family affair, but through local word-of-mouth people have flocked to the restaurant and its popularity has spurred quick growth. Besides meaning a necessity to hire more employees (lucky me!), this has also prompted the necessity for the menu to expand. Bringing my pastry skills to work, I have been allowed to present as well as create some of my European style desserts and I love doing it! From chocolate mousse cake to lemon gelato filled tuile cups to a coconut-inspired Tres Leches cake to an all chocolate-no flour cake served on raspberry coulis with a dollop of whipped cream, I am in dessert heaven. I also prep for lunch, am given free allowance to create soups of the day, and help with the specials. I never thought I would love the work this much. And when we have a really busy lunch or dinner, it just makes it all that much better.

So, if you ever make it up to the crown jewel of north Idaho, Bonners Ferry, visit us at Papa Byrd's Bistro (at the city parking lot, near the Visitor's Center), 11-8, Mon.-Sat. You'll eat well, appreciate views that include mountains, trees, rivers and blue skies, and then you can shop Main Street downtown for all sorts of great items, from used and rare books to dishes to clothes to crafts to art to stationery. We're a friendly bunch in this town and as the U.S. gateway to the Canadian Rockies we always welcome our visitors.