The Day I Yelled “Fuck” in the Middle of Dinner

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“Here, chug it.”

“We’re chugging wine?”

“Yes. Someone get Alfie. Rikki! Leave the dishes and get over here. Cheers!”

And down the hatch it went. Chugging red wine from paper cups on my last night of work in the kitchen.

Except, holy shit, WTF is that sludge in the bottom of the cup?! Gulp gulp, gulp, tastes like vinegar…. ABORT! ABORT! Definitely vinegar.

“Fuck! What was that!?”

And just when I thought, Was there soy sauce in there? Am I going to barf? an onslaught of condiments came hurtling toward me. Cream pie to the hair, a heavy dusting of cocoa and a shower of oil from squeeze bottles had me cowering in a banana box, yelling expletives while normal people had lovely desserts at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. Laughing and crying and dripping, I got got. Apparently you aren’t supposed to trust anyone on your last day in the kitchen. I didn’t know that.

 I had an awesome job in Wanaka. I worked with people who helped me make a career change from teacher to chef (though I don’t feel comfortable using that title quite yet). I made friends with four chefs who taught me everything I needed to know. How to use the meat slicer, segment oranges, make sabayon, skin a ham, trim a filet, make pastry cream, plate food and do that little smear of caramel on a dessert plate.

They taught me what its like to work in a kitchen, to use scales and timers, to label things and always be looking at tomorrow. They showed me how to work during those in between moments during service, to prep more lettuce for the next rush, or get the hazelnuts roasting so tomorrow you can just come in and get started on the praline. Or to caramelize apples in the middle of service because people are eating twice as much dessert tonight (they do that when its cold).

I loved learning skills and spending my whole day working with food. In New York, I looked forward to preparing food when I got home from work, but now I get to do that for work. But the thing is, I don’t care too much for stress. And I like eating dinner. Neither of which jive too well with making many other people’s dinner all at the same time. Despite not loving dinner service, I’ll probably wind up doing it in several more restaurants, as it is an awesome arena for learning new skills.

I decided to send my knives home and will pick up an all purpose knife along the way. I’m going to miss the scales, kitchen aid mixer, and easy answers from experienced chefs, but as a going away present, my kitchen fam gave me an awesome travel spice kit so I can still work some magic over the camp stove or in the communal hostel kitchen.

Hopefully our paths will cross again. Maybe next time it will be in front of a pig on a spit at our farm :)


Gallery: Adios Wanaka

Here are a few good shots from our last days in Wanaka and our trip to Christchurch via Castle Hill.


See You in the World!

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Today we leave Wanaka. We have been here for 8 months, which is long enough to make good byes quite hard. Last night was my final shift at work, followed by an amazing last staff meal, good bye drinks and loads of hugs at our local watering hole. Some of our friends are those whom I’ve worked side by side with since I started work in December. And some are those whom I’ve just met, but could tell right away that we are cut from the same cloth. So because it was hard to say good bye, we didn’t really. See you next year in the Czech Republic.  See you when we eat New York together. See you in France when I stay at your parent’s house. See you when we’re 50 and bring our kids back to Wanaka.  See you somewhere, some time, out there in the world!


Vaccines, Visas and Decision Making

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Today was the last of our trips to Queenstown to get shot full of vaccinations. We’ve gone three times over the last month, slowly driving over the snow covered Crown Range, to visit the medical center for consultations and “jabs” as they call them. Each time, we sit watching the clock as the harried nurses shuffle papers and vials around.

“So Christina, you’re getting Hep B and Japanese Encephalytis…”

No. That’s Zach.

“Okay and you’ve already had it, but still need your second rabies.”

No, third rabies.

Once we sorted out who gets what, it’s needles, bandaids, credit card rape, and you’re off! Then back up the switchbacks and into Wanaka just in time to go to work. Between the requirements for Indonesia and India, we have been vaccinated for just about everything out there (Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Rabies, Polio, and Japanese Encephalytis). Which means now we can go just about anywhere with the peace of mind that the diarrhea is probably just diarrhea and not typhoid fever.

With vaccinations out of the way, we have started researching visas. It turns out that obtaining visas has been a driving force in our decision making process. For example, my friend Melissa is coming to visit us in Indonesia in August (!!!!!). Amidst the excitement to see her, I think I said something like, “Whatever, whenever, ohmygod yeah, just come,” forgetting that we only have a 30 day visa. As I realized later, our visa expires in the middle of the days that she requested off from work. Woops. I emailed a representative at the Indonesian Embassy and asked what to do and she suggested leaving the country and coming back on a new visa. So that’s what we’ll do. We’ll hop a flight to East Timor for a week and come back to Indonesia on a new visa.

When we leave Indonesia, we will make our way toward India. We plan to head to Kathmandu, Nepal to apply for a six month Indian visa. This looks like it will be a more complicated process, but the internet is a wonderful tool and we have taken notes from fellow travelers (check out Ryan Beale’s Super Trip of Awesome), government agencies, and Lonely Planet alike.

There is a spectacular feeling of freedom and adventure to be able to change plans at the drop of a hat. But it requires constant communication between the two of us, a willingness to be flexible, and to be able to trust that things are going to work out. We get excited to go somewhere, but after looking into the logistics, figure out that the plan isn’t going to work exactly how we had thought. Because our plans change all the time, long term planning is pretty difficult, but this also allows us to take advantage of opportunities that we didn’t know were going to come our way. A month ago, neither East Timor nor Nepal were anywhere on the radar, but now they are and that’s fantastic. We are ready to go!


Winter Gallery Through a New Lens!

We just upgraded from an iPhone3G to a 4 and have been having so much fun having a phone that takes decent pictures and can load data at a reasonable speed! We’ve also activated an Instagram account for Bring a Snack, so feel free to check us out there. Here are a few pictures from the past week, walking around the lake, some of the dishes I make at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen and downhill skiing at Cardrona and cross country skiing Snow Farm.

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