There is something about a wood table in a kitchen that gets me excited. It can’t just be any wood table. It needs to be really old with lots of scratches and wear and tear. A table that looks like it’s been through kitchen wars is what I like. Even better if the wood surface is  literally worn away by a baker’s weight pushing down on the surface while kneading dough.

Today I found such a table. It”s 8 feet by 30 inches and old, really old. The surface is scratched. The edges are nibbled away and the wood is very dark. When I got it in the restaurant it appeared larger than life. It took up most of the space. My first inclination is that it’s too big, but I am going to let it grow on me. I placed it next to the stove.

I cleaned it with a green scouring pad. There was a very tough layer of grease on the surface that fought me good. I can’t say I prevailed. I did alright. The wood is still sticky and if you lean against it the bottom of your shirt sticks. Tomorrow is round two.

I love how it looks in the kitchen. It is exactly what I imagined.

I also purchased a screen for the back door. There’s something comforting and inviting about an old screen door. It reminds me of the country, of big open fields of tall grass and of farm life. The door to the kitchen will always be open. I’m hoping neighbors knock on the door for an espresso or cappuccino kinda like people used to knock on their neighbor’s doors to borrow a pint of milk.  There’s something homey about it.

So once we open please knock on the the back screen door.

Check out the grain of that wood


Day 10 of Fiore Market Cafe

A little over a week has passed. We are moving along nicely. The last of the wall was removed today. We pulled out two small 4 by 4 beams and took out the final 2 by 4’s that held the wall up. The space seems to have grown over night.

This morning I wrapped up the last of the painting. The walls are now covered in cotton linen. What a name for paint. It looks white to me. Afterward I spent 2 hours cleaning up after myself and most of the time was devoted to scraping up paint that dripped from my leaky brush. It is amazing how resilient dried paint can be.

I had a few visitors from the old place. I’m hoping they’ll join us at Fiore. They’re really strong employees with terrific attitudes. I showed them around and then made sandwiches with mixed cold cuts that I bought at Rosies. Rosie stacked thinly sliced capicola, mortadella, salami and provoletti cheese on red parchment paper for me. I bought a large ciabatta for the sandwiches. These guys are light eaters. They ate the sandwiches, but I know they were too big for them.

This is Rosie.

Anne brought some chocolate sables that she baked. They were really sweet and looked great in the packaging. She delivered some to our new neighbors in the building. They oohed ahhed like school kids. All her packaged cookies are sealed and tied with one of her famous tags. I posted one below.

In the afternoon my friend Brian dropped by. He hosed down the front entry shaking down the cobwebs and dust that lingered in the corners for the last few year. We removed the iron bars on the four kitchen windows. The bars were installed by the previous owners for reasons unbeknowest to the landlord. It was not for security reason because the rest of the windows were unadorned. Once down the view of the kitchen was unhindered.  I could see my reflection in the glass dressed in my dirty painting clothes. I thought for a moment. In a few weeks I’ll be on the other side of the window and that reflection will be me leaning over a stove .

Anne baked red velvet cupcakes. I brought them in a glass cake stand and set them on the  table in the dining room. My friend Arturo came in with his brother to help out so I gave each of them a cupcake. Sean and Tracy dropped in and they each devoured a red velvet cupcake. While we were outside hosing down the patio tiles a nice couple stopped to say hello. Yes, you bet I gave them a red velvet cupcake. They took one to share. They seemed very pleased with the cupcake.

I love passing out food especially great treats. People can’t say no except for the young girl at the hair salon in the back. I gave her some of Anne’s chocolate sables and she only took a nibble. She said she had to watch what she ate.

Here are Anne’s red velvet cupcakes.

Examples of Fiore.  In Italian more than one Fiore is Fiori

Fiore Market Cafe

Heirloom Tomatoes

Today I received a box of heirloom tomatoes. They are huge, multicolored strange looking tomatoes. A friends 82 year old neighbor grows them in her yard. I had the opportunity to see the plants the other night.  The plants rise about 8 feet from the ground. The leaves are vibrant green and the tomatoes pop from the branches. The tomatoes are so large and the plants are so tall that it feels like a garden for the Jolly Green giant.

I did not get a chance to meet the 82 year old gardening legend, but I was fortunateenough to get some our her priced jewels. My friend said that when he went to her house to pick up the tomatoes she had 100 of them spread out on the table that she was dividing up for her friends and neighbors.

Lucky me and lucky everyone who is the recipient of one of my tomato sandwiches today.

Day 8 The Wall Comes Down

Toward the back of the restaurant the previous owners built an alcove consisting of 2 walls. They hid stuff behind these walls, stuff that you don’t want the general public to see like to-go containers, cash register tape, cleaning supplies and a whole lot of other restaurant stuff. The wall monopolized the room. For our concept we need space and Anne and I decided that the wall must go. Today Patrick and I took it down. We used a crowbar, a hammer and a very long screwdriver. Patrick did most of the work. He climbed up the ladder and chiseled away at the corners using the hammer and the long screwdriver. The corners and ends of each wall were held together with those metal dry wall bands that tie two pieces of dry wall together. Once he peeled them off, the drywall practically lifted right off the studs. We had fun breaking the pieces in more manageable sizes that we dragged on a cart to the trash bin.  The trash bin was across the street about a block away . We swerved in and out of traffic. The pieces stayed on the cart because we wrapped them together with masking tape. MacGyver would have been proud.

A friend’s 82 year old neighbor grew these

Day 7 for Fiore Market Cafe

Today is day 7. It’s amazing what one can do in a short period of time. We have been focused and have had some quality help with our work. Days one and two we wiped grease off of everything. It’s amazing how grease clings to stuff and refuses to let go. It’s also amazing that nothing works to get it off. We tried Awesome, but it wasn’t awesome at all. It just smeared the grease around. Comet worked pretty well, but it leaves a long lasting residue  to everything.

Day 3 and 4 we painted. I had help from Patrick, Sean, Jason and Luis. We knocked out the whole kitchen with the exception of the wood work which needs more prep. The place looks fantastic. It’s hard to believe it’s the same place.

Yesterday the electricity was turned on. Patrick and I went over about 7pm to check it out. We found the restaurant pitch black. In the electric room the meter was spinning so I knew Edison had been out. Right below the meter there was a main switch. I turned it on and presto. Let there be light.

The equipment started right up, but the refrigerators were creaking and making outrageous noise. One was humming so loud that it seemed to shimmer on the floor. I called Fernando a good friend and an excellent HVAC man. He came out within an hour and solved the problem. The fan was rubbing against a metal plate  creating the “music” .

The most exciting thing about the electricity being turned on was the way the restaurant looks from the outside at night with the lights on. It’s almost magical. Really really nice. I have posted a view pictures.

Today Patrick and I remove a wall. He is excited to smash the hell out of it. I want to take a more civilized approach and peel off the dry wall very neatly. We’ll see what happens. Wish us luck.

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