I’ve been busting to share the next chapter in the ‘storied life’ of Michelle Hooton. I hate it when people talk about themselves in the third person, but I’m sort of having an out-of-body experience. The cautious me is watching the fearless me – wait for it…
buy into a partnership with Liz Rowe and Gord Hewitt, co-owners of Italian by Night. I’ve fantasized about opening my own place for years, but life always pulled me in other directions. By the time the girls had grown up and left home, I thought that I had out outlasted my infatuation with the food industry. I was too old. It would never happen.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that five years ago Liz and Gord hired me as a food consultant to create the menus and recipes for Italian by Night. You also know that four years ago they hired me to run the kitchen. After two hard, grueling, spectacular years, I resigned. I continued to write their seasonal menus, create their recipes and work with the chefs and cooks at Italian by Night, but I wanted to concentrate on my blog and see where that took me. I ended up being hired by Co-Op Atlantic. For the next eighteen months, I was their on-line contributor. I worked hard at the craft of food blogging, teaching myself to write and photograph food. I began designing menus for other local restaurants and giving cooking workshops. I loved the path I was on. Then I had another discussion with Liz and Gord.
They’d decided to expand Italian by Night. They asked if I was interested in participating. I asked, “in what capacity?” And so it went…
In short order, we formed a new partnership, secured a fabulous space and are currently designing the restaurant scheduled to open this fall.
One of the biggest challenges the original location presented was its intended use. The line [the kitchen area where the cooks prepare your meal ] was designed to deliver for a fast paced deli. We made it work, but the thought of designing a kitchen specifically for Italian by Night is intoxicating.
So here I am, middle-aged and beginning a bucket-list journey. I’ve dreamed of cooking in my own Italian restaurant forever safe in the knowledge that the time would never be right. Then wad’ya know, when I wasn’t looking I bump into Liz Rowe and Gord Hewitt and the opportunity of my lifetime happens.
Never ever say never.
So beyond the restaurant design, I’m testing recipes daily before I write the new menu, which is partly why I haven’t been around as much. Today’s post was inspired by a little neighborhood restaurant that I used to eat at when I lived in Brooklyn. The owner would offer his guests a tiny jar of his wife’s Carote Marinate to munch on as an amuse-bouche. A simple generous offering that I’ve never forgotten.
My recipe for this carrot antipsato is simple to make, ready to eat the next day, so you can do them in advance and if there’s any left-over they’ll keep in the fridge for a month.
- 1 pound young carrots, peeled
- 1¼ cups water
- ¼ cup pure cider vinegar
- ¾ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly-crushed
- 1½ teaspoons fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- A few dried pink peppercorns
- 1½ tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small dried chili
- Bring a medium-sized pot of lightly-salted water to a boil.
- Once the water boils, drop the carrots in and simmer for one minute. Pour into an ice bath to stop the cooking action.
- When thoroughly chilled, pour carrots into a colander and drain thoroughly.
- Using the same pot, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes. Cool until room temperature
- Pack carrots into your jar then pour the brine over them to cover.
- Chill 24 hours before serving
THE LOVE: Your Carrot Antipasto should be made at least one day prior to use. If there’s any leftover, they will keep for up to one month in the fridge.
Thanks for reading.