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Nao – Celebration dinner

Ben and I started our weekend with a nice dinner out to celebrate my new job! We had been wanting to try out the new Culinary Institue of America restaurant, Nao, at the Pearl Brewery. It’s motto is “New, World Flavors.” It had a soft opening at the beginning of summer, but the grand opening was just two weekends ago. I was worried that would mean we would have a hard time getting a reservation, but luckily, they had room for us on Saturday. We started off with a couple of drinks, Ben with a spicy rum drink and I had a mango tequila drink. After reading the menu about 5 times, and asking several questions, we were ready to order. We chose a pre-fixe menu that came with one cold appetizer, one warm appetizer and a main entre. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names of these dishes, but I kind of remember what was in them!

I started out with a fish ceviche in a pool of spicy green sauce and wonderful veggie relish.

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Ben had a sushi-style crab roll with Peruvian potatoes as the shell with avocado garnish.

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Next up were the warm appetizers. Ben enjoyed the Tyaluda, consisting of rotisserie pork shoulder, onion, tomato and spinach on a dark, rich mole sauce. The pork shoulder was so tender and was perfectly marinated.

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My warm appetizer was a yucca roll stuffed with duck confit – so awesome!! I tried not to eat them all to save room for my main dish, but I could have had about 20 because they were so good!

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Steak with tamal and spinach salad was Ben’s main dish of choice. The steak must have been great because I didn’t get a chance to try it before he ate it all! I loved the tamal (corn cake)!

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I had a divine red snapper fillet on a bed of nopales. Red snapper is one of my favorite types of fish! Nopales (prickly pear cactus) are growing on me, but they have to be prepared just right.

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At this point, I was so happy with everything. The portion sizes were just perfect and I was just full, and so amazed at the quality of all of the dishes. I want to go back every weekend and try everything on the menu! We didn’t really need to get dessert, but when a chocolate mousse filled chocolate cake with a side of chocolate sorbet is on the menu, you just go for it!

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We ended the evening watching the sun go down at a park a few blocks away from our house. It was the perfect way to celebrate my new job and perfect way to start our Labor Day weekend.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in When in Texas...

 

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Reflections: 3 days of my new job

Reflections: 3 days of my new job

My first three days of work at the bakery have been great. I have always been a morning person, but waking up a 3:55am is a little earlier than I am used to. I am to work by 5 and have been working about 7 hours since I am in training right now. My main duties right now are making frosting (chocolate, buttercream, cream cheese and peanut butter), frosting cupcakes, pre-icing cakes and doing dishes. Ah, dishes, it reminds me a of my high school job, but at least now I’m only washing what I get dirty.

Today was absolutely awesome in terms of experience. Maybe you could tell from my cover picture, but today I got to help make a lego cake! The cakes were baked yesterday and pre-iced by my trainer, and then once the cakes had set, we set out on icing them in green and blue.

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Pretty cool, right?? I actually had contemplated making a lego cake for a friend earlier this year, but decided it was a little to hard for me at the time. After helping with this cake today, I think I could do one by myself. I also got to make icing for a whiskey cake and ice the cake. After tasting the whiskey icing, I may need to add liquor to all my baked goods in the future! Ok, not really, but it was pretty tasty! Check out the pictures below and guess which lego was mine.

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Which lego did I decorate? What are your favorite baked goods with odd ingredients (alcohol, candy, soda, etc)?

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Baking, Cakes

 

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Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Anyone remember that song? Yep, now you can listen to it in case you don’t know what I’m referring to. I like ‘oldies,’ what can I say?

Back to this post…change is the major theme in my life right now. In only a matter of weeks, I have had some huge changes in my life. Unfortunately, one of them was the loss of my beyond amazing Grandma Noni. I still don’t feel like that is a reality, and I think being away from my family has added to that feeling. On the flip side, I have been thinking of her almost daily because I need her most important advice to get me through each day.

First things first; one thing at a time.

In late June I decided I wasn’t going to make it another year at my current job. We have gone under new ownership/management, software updates, personnel changes and beginning in July, we started learning a completely new software system. Now, maybe to the average person this doesn’t sound too bad, but adding these things on top of an already stressful job pushed me over my limit of healthy and allowable stress. I slowly started looking for new jobs, mainly on Monster and Craig’s list. I happened to look at the local universities and also local grocery stores. Just for the heck of it, I applied for three different cake decorating positions and one full-time bakery position. I also applied for traditional office/admin jobs and jobs that had more emphasis on accounting because I enjoy that type of work much more than my current position as payroll specialist.

I ended up getting a call back about the full-time bakery position and was offered a part-time position that eventually would get me into the bakery. They weren’t ready to put me in the bakery full-time because I didn’t have commercial baking experience. That was all I needed to help me put in my two-week’s notice. During the two weeks I ended up having two interviews and working try-outs with two different bakeries! One offered me a full-time baking and decorating position, so you are reading the blog of a newly employed bakery worker! Woo-hoo….I’m almost too exhausted to be excited but I can tell my stress level has dropped dramatically just knowing that I have a full-time job.

I am definitely scared that I won’t end up liking baking full-time in a real bakery, or that I’ll be super slow or be a horrible decorator. But, I took the position because the owner was willing to give me a chance even though I had no experience. I don’t know when another chance would come up to get this kind of experience, so I decided I had better try it or I’ll never know if I like the bakery world.

Now, if starting a new job isn’t enough change, let’s add in moving into a new apartment. Yes, we are crazy, thanks for asking! We had the opportunity to move upstairs in our current apartment and we jumped at the chance because the upstairs apartments have awesome balconies and HUGE kitchens compared to our current one. We will be losing a room, so I have absolutely no idea what I will do with all the stuff in our office, but gaining a balcony and bigger kitchen is totally worth it. Ben and I love being outside and we love cooking. With a bigger kitchen we may be able to cook at the same time now!

I have to give God all the credit for the great things that are happening in our lives right now. I could not have imagined actually having a job at a bakery and then God provides me a job at the bakery Ben and I both love eating at! I will be taking a slight pay cut, and God has provided us a better apartment for a little less money each month, so it shouldn’t affect us too much. Matthew 6:8 explains it so well “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask.” God has been giving me strength to work each day at my current job, but He also had everything prepared when I asked him for a new job.

What is God doing in your life right now? How have you seeing His blessings lately?

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Faith

 

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