Thursday, June 11, 2009

Field Trip to Mumm!

With the front of the house comes a field trip to a winery of Martha's (our instructor) choice and for us she chose Mumm Napa, a sparkling wine producer in Rutherford. At 10am we loaded the Greystone bus with precious grandmother-like/crazy driver/white hair Grace behind the wheel and drove to the establishment off the Silverado Trail.

Upon arrival we were met by our tour guide Suzy who showed us all the background of the winery and production side. Though it was interesting walking through and seeing the workers bottle the grape jucie and "girate" the soon to be champagne, I can't say I or anyone else in my class was too attentive knowing the fun part was to come in the tasting room with the bubbly.
Our tour guide was more than gracious and not only poured us five full glasses of bubbly to taste but also two more glasses of their red sparkling wine. All I kept saying in my head was, "pace yourself, Vanessa, pace yourself." Seven glasses of champagne? Who could drink that much right? Definitely not me, BUT, at least four out of the eight of my class drank them all while finishing off leftovers from other students. You can imagine what the day progressed into. By the end we were cheersing and convincing our instructor we needed to go out to lunch on the way home. She gave in, we went to La Luna Taqueria in Rutherford, devoured tacos, burritos and Mexican soda before going back to school. Realizing we were in no shape to be serving guests at the restaurant Martha let us play jeopardy for a half hour until we were let loose.

Good tour, good field trip, good burritos. The only sad faces I can picture of this whole experience were the few the next morning with baby hangovers. Who drinks eight glasses of champagne at 11am in the morning anyway?

This is called "disgorging" and it's when they open up the wine after freezing it to remove the yeast

These are mini FYB's ("funky" yellow boxes) Instead of grapes in them they had Asiago crackers

Karl sporting the souvenir as an earring. Becoming, I must say

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Service Amateurs

Today was my third day in the "front of the house"/front of the restaurant which means my poor chef whites are hiding in the closet and I'm now dressed like a penguin for class with black pants, a white collard t-shirt and a hideous black vest with a name tag...oh yes, and how could I forget the little gold pineapple pin I proudly wear on my color that stands for hospitality. So far I've worked bar-back, hostess and server. And so far...I miss the back of the house.

From 8am til our server meeting at 10:30 our teacher, Martha Keller (no, not related to the famous Thomas), teaches us random knowledge about front of the house, brings in speakers and has us do exercises to practice our new found skills. Today she had us all sit at a round table and practice bringing one another plates of food and trays of glasses.

Daniel in the seat where the spillage occurred

One of the first to volunteer, no surprise, Mr. Burroughs Blind, came out of the bar with two wine glasses and a tall pitcher of "triple purified" Natura water. He semi-gracefully set the first wine glass down and while placing the second down proceeded to tip the tray ever so slightly to knock over the pitcher, aiming it right onto Daniel and watched it fall to the ground where it shattered making an enormous mess. Sodexo came, it was a big woopsie, they cleaned it up, yada yada, and we moved on. A few other people practiced, Emily with some glasses, me with some plates was going somewhat smoothly for awhile.

Towards the end of the exercise Martha asked for an ambitious volunteer to bring over a big load of glasses to the table. Feeling confident (for no reason I can fathom now) I volunteered, went over to the bar and despite her suggestion to take the load in two trips, piled the glassware onto one tray and walked over to the table. I set down two little glasses of beer before the entire tray toppled over knocking down three other beer glasses and two wine glasses spilling ALL over me and Daniel of all people!!! The glasses weren't filled with water but rather Diet Coke...YUCK! It was a serious disaster. Daniel was completely drenched, there was broken glass everywhere, my vest was literally dripping in a stream where one side comes to a point and everyone was out of there seats laughing and wide-eyed at what had happened. The long clean up ended with me using Shout wipes to try and get the Diet Coke out of Daniels sopping wet white shirt...I think I went through five wipes.

Daniels hands in his face show his mood and the knocked over blue glass symbolizes all that was spilled on him. Sorry Daniel, just consider yourself a VIP...we both just wanted to serve you SO bad.