Solo [Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Orin deals with a difficult customer on the eve of Feastday

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 9th, 2017, 10:09 pm

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79th of Summer, 517AV


Today at The Almond Blossom was probably one of the hardest days Orin had ever had to deal with. First of all, it was boiling inside the kitchen. While normally it was hot, even when the air outside was cool, today, unfortunately, the air was decidedly not. In fact, it might be at an all time high. Unfortunately, the conditions inside the kitchen weren’t doing much to alleviate the heat. Actually, they were making it worse, as nearly every single oven and stove that The Almond Blossom had was on. Orin was sweating buckets, and if it hadn’t been completely unprofessional, he would’ve taken off his shirt by now.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, not only did they have their regular service tonight, they also were getting ready for tomorrow’s holiday, Feastday, the most important holiday for anyone related to food, and in Orin’s mind, possibly the most important holiday in Riverfall period. While all that was good and exciting, it did mean that Orin, Dolmar, Korana, and the rest of the staff at The Almond Blossom were working overtime, and had been for days now. While the bulk of the actual cooking would be done tomorrow, there was more than enough prep work to do. Orin had been taking in shipments from suppliers while stirring, making marinades while trying to roast vegetables, and making spice mixes with one hand while handing plates to the wait staff. Which is why, when one of the servers approached the chef and mentioned that there was a problem in the front, Orin was crabby. “Deal with it,” the human said, not unkindly, but with little patience.

The server, who had dark hair and unusually colorful eyes, that seemed to shift every time the light did, cleared his throat. “But, uh, they’re asking for you by name.” The server seemed to shrink in on himself, clearly expecting Orin to yell or something along those lines.

Orin sighed. He must have been in a particularly foul mood recently, for the other man to fear the chef’s reaction. It was true that, for whatever reason, he’d been short-tempered, but part of that was simply how drained he felt. It had been a long summer, and something about it had been messing with Orin’s emotions, alternatively riling him up to epic heights and then causing him to crash down. It had left his nerves feeling raw and wanting this whole season to just end already. Still, that was no reason for his employees to find themselves afraid of him. Apparently he had to do damage control in more ways than one. “Alright, take me to the customer and then I’ll take care of it.” Realizing that even that was a little curt, Orin smiled. “And thanks for bringing this to my attention. You’re just doing your job, and doing it well at that.” Hopefully that would be enough to alleviate the wait staff’s current tendency to walk on eggshells around Orin, as they gossiped worse than old people.

As they emerged into the dining room portion of The Almond Blossom, Orin took a moment to wipe the swear from his brow, and attempt vainly to fix his hair, which no doubt looked frightful and must be plastered to Orin’s head from the sweat. Still, The Almond Blossom had appearance to maintain, and Orin was well aware that if he looked bad, the restaurant looked bad.
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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 9th, 2017, 10:10 pm

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Finally the server and Orin arrived at a table, which, Orin was surprised to see, contained a party of Eypharians. The chef hadn’t spent a significant amount of time with the race – Sayana, whatever happened to you?— and while they weren’t unheard of in Riverfall, they certainly weren’t a common sight. Orin tried to dredge up what little he knew of Eypharians, but came up with almost nothing beyond they had six arms, which would be readily apparent to anyone simply looking at the group arrayed in front of him. The server, duty dispatched, fled, and left Orin alone to face the appraising and slightly condescending gaze of the six-armed folks in front of him.

Fixing his brightest smile on his face, though Orin felt anything but happy on the inside, the chef prepared himself for what would probably prove to be an extremely unpleasant conversation. Priskil preserve me. I hate difficult customers, came the exasperated thought. Probably everyone did, but for whatever reason, Orin thought that cooks and chefs got it worse. Perhaps because everyone thought they knew at least something about cooking, but didn’t really know anything about the work it took to run a restaurant or manage a kitchen that didn’t just produce meals for a single family.

“Hello and can I just say, thank you for choosing the Almond Blossom. My name is Orin Fenix, one of the chefs here and –“

A woman in the center of the group held up her middle right hand for Orin to be quiet. She had just the barest hints of age lines around her eyes, and absolutely no smile lines around her mouth. Those were definitely not signs of a lovely personality. Orin noticed that the others at the table seemed to defer to her, in a mixture of fear and respect. Clearly, she was some sort of leader to these people, and she seemed to prefer the closed fist rather than the open palm. “Do you know who we are?” she asked, voice sharp, sounding incredulous, her voice heavily accented in the way that those from the south.

Orin shook his head. “I’m sorry ma’am, we haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced.” Though it was anything but a pleasure, Orin made sure to keep a pleasant and calm façade. All those years of pretending to be happy had at least left Orin with a remarkable ability to disguise his actual feelings beneath a mask or a veneer of happiness. He called upon every single one of those bells of practice now.

The woman and her crew seemed outraged at this mission. “We are members of one of the oldest and most important families in the world. We have come to this city,” and somehow the woman managed to sink more contempt and disdain into that word than Orin had heard in a long while, “on a diplomatic mission. From our homeland to the Akalak one.”
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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 9th, 2017, 10:10 pm

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Oh shyke. Orin felt a spike of nervousness in his stomach. If what she was saying was true, then this wasn’t just a matter of The Almond Blossom’s reputation. A mess up here could have serious implications for the city as a whole. There was no reason Orin could think of that she would lie. The woman continued speaking, and Orin focused intently on every word, wondering what he possibly could do to make sure this situation went smoothly. “We decided to sample the culture of Riverfall, and so far I must say we are not impressed.” She yawned as if bored, and her fellow Eypharians followed suit. “We came to this restaurant because we were told it was the best the city had to offer. And we were specifically told that you happened to be the best of the best.”

Orin smiled. This was going to have to be handled very, very carefully, and so he took a few ticks to line up exactly what his response would be. “Well, I don’t know if I would I’m the best in the city, but I hope that I’ll be able to make your stay here more enjoyable.” The truth was, Orin probably was, but it wasn’t a fact that he exactly advertised for a variety of reasons. “I’m so sorry to hear that your stay in the city hasn’t been to your liking. What can I do to remedy that?”

The woman smiled, a thin, sharp smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Orin disliked it immensely. It was a cruel smile, one without any hint of warmth to it. However, he carefully kept his reaction to himself. “My companions and I find ourselves homesick for a taste of home. Perhaps you would be so good as to bring us something with the flavors of the desert in it?” She waited expectantly, clearly more used to giving orders than making requests.

Orin had absolutely no idea what Eypharian cuisine was like, and so the fact that this was their request was frankly terrifying. If he got even a little clue, though, he’d be able to make it work. There wasn’t a dish Orin had encountered yet that he couldn’t cook, so long as he had the knowledge for it. So, Orin tried to fish for information. “I’d be glad to. Is there anything in particular you were hoping for?” If the woman mentioned basically anything, the chef would be able to make something up that was close enough.

One of the other Eypharians opened his mouth, clearly intending to ask for a meal, but the woman silenced him with a look. Turning back to Orin, she smiled that dark smile again. “Surprise us.”
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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 9th, 2017, 10:11 pm

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Clearly, that was a dismissal and Orin responded to her smile a smile of his own. “Gladly. In the mean time I’ll send our server back out with our selection of wines. I trust you’ll find them satisfactory.” With that Orin bowed slight, feeling that it was appropriate, and then smartly turned on his heel, walking quickly back to the kitchen, while not trying to appear rushed. His mind was racing all the while. What did I ever do to deserve this? Is this a test of some kind? Orin could imagine some god or goddess out there laughing at him this very chime.

Passing back through the doors to the kitchen, Orin made a beeline straight for the small office in the corner. Dolmar look up, concerned. “Everything good out there?” the Akalak asked, clearly seeing Orin’s distress.

Orin for his part didn’t feel he had time to waste chatting with Dolmar, so he simply explained, “Difficult customer with connections. I will let you know if I need help.” There was one place that might contain exactly the information Orin was seeking, but it was a bit of a long shot. The Almond Blossom did happen to keep a few cookbooks on hand, and maybe the answers would be in there. Scanning the titles, Orin’s eyes lit on one that looked promising. It was called ‘Cultures around the World: Cuisines and Customs,’ and Orin vaguely remembered it. Korana had got it in her head to maybe try some themed nights, but the idea had never really taken off. Still, Orin could kiss her now, if she weren’t busy. It also might distress both her and Dolmar, who had carried a torch for her for as long as Orin could remember. Still, the human made a mental note to thank her for her foresight at a later date. Flipping through the book, Orin finally noticed a mention of Eypharians. Skimming as quickly as he knew how, Orin saw two descriptions of dishes that he felt confident he could replicate.

Taking the book over to one of the few empty spaces left in the kitchen, Orin placed it down. Next, making his way to the pantry, Orin scooped up a basket, and filled it with the ingredients he thought he would need. For the first dish, Orin grabbed oil, dates, flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, black pepper, honey, eggs, strips of bacon, maple syrup, yeast and some cayenne pepper. One his way out, Orin pinched off some rosemary from the one of the plants they kept throughout the kitchen. Taking the now full basket out, Orin set the ingredients down, ready to start them cooking. Retrieving a pan from the overhead rack, Orin coated it with oil, the cut the dates in half and placed them on top, curved edges touching the pan. Next, Orin took his freshly picked rosemary and cut it up finely. Grabbing an empty bowl, Orin filled it with warm water and yeast. After, he added oil, the cornmeal, the flour, honey, rosemary, dates, bacon, and cracked two eggs into it, and then mixed it together until it made nice dough. This Orin set aside to begin rising and went to prepare the main course.
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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 9th, 2017, 10:11 pm

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This second one would have a few more exotic ingredients in it. The Almond Blossom didn’t have a large supply of such items, but Orin thought that the situation called for drastic measures. More onions and garlic went in first, followed by chilies and rice, which in turn was followed by a few mackerel. Orin also took the more unusual ingredients, lotus, Kokum, and ghee down from the shelves, and placed them in with the rest. His next stop was the spice rack, where he retrieved cinnamon, black and green cardamom, powdered ginger, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, cloves, chili powder and salt. It was an expensive dish, but in Orin’s mind the expense was necessary.

Everything gathered and placed in one spot, Orin took a moment to collect his wits. This would be a challenge, even for him, and he couldn’t ask for help, as everyone else was too preoccupied. I can do this. Then, the chef launched into motion. Step one was to was the mackerel, then cut it up into medium sized pieces, which then were rubbed with salt. That done, Orin moved grabbed a pan, rubbed in the oil, then placed it on a stove. The fish chunks went in, and Orin fried them, turning them over as necessary, until they were a beautiful golden brown.

As soon as the fish was done, Orin removed them from the pan. Taking up some large onions, Orin washed them, peeled them, and chopped them into strips in record time. These went into the empty pan, which in turn went back on the stove. Soon enough, these also browned, and Orin took them out, got a mortar and pestle, and ground them into a paste. Taking out a separate frying pan and a pot now and filling them both with water, Orin set it to boil. That done, Orin went to check on his dough. Seeing that it had risen nicely, he put it on a baking pan, patted it into a bricklike shape, took it over to the open, and slid it in, making sure to close the door afterwards. The water was boiling at this point, and Orin dumped the Kokum in the pan in order to extract the flavors from the fruit. The rice got dumped into the pot. Soon enough, the water in the pan changed to a deep red, and Orin picked out the now blackened fruit.

Orin then went to mix the spices. Taking the mortar and pestle, Orin emptied the onion paste into a currently empty jar, and added cloves of garlic, quartered onions, the red chilies, both forms of cardamom, some cinnamon, the powdered ginger, and finally the cumin seed, along with a little water. Orin ground all of it down into an incredibly thick paste. Taking up the lotus stems, Orin peeled them and cut them diagonally then left them for now. Grabbing yet one more pan, Orin put oil in, along with cinnamon, green cardamom, a much smaller amount of black cardamom, and cloves. He lightly sautéed these until they sputtered, at which point he tossed in the garlic paste. When the garlic browned Orin tossed in the lotus stems, the turmeric, and chili powder. After frying that for a few chimes, Orin added the paste made from the combination of spices from the mortar and pestle.

Leaving it to sauté for now, Orin went to check on his rice. It was coming along nicely, and Orin stirred it to make sure it didn’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pot. His next stop was the oven. Opening it, Orin saw that his cornbread with dates, rosemary, and bacon was complete, so he removed it and placed it to cool. Swinging back to the pan where he was making the curry paste, Orin dumped the Kokum essence water in, and stirred gently for several chimes. Next came the onion paste from earlier, and after sautéing it all briefly, Orin finally added the fish cubes from before. In addition to the fish, Orin put in the powdered ginger and salt. He let it fry for a few chimes, making sure to stir the sauce onto the fish properly, until he was satisfied with the outcome.

Taking it off the stove, Orin placed the curry into a serving bowl. Next, he went to the rice, and drained the water. The rice was sent into a separate bowl, which Orin placed along with the curry on a platter. Finally going to the cornbread, Orin took up a knife and sliced it into squares. Placing those squares on a plate, which also went on the platter, Orin got serving spoons and placed them in the rice and curry. Finally, he took the platter up, and started walking outside the kitchen.

The staff watched him as he went, slightly in awe at his efficiency and at the meal he’d pulled together, but he didn’t register them, seeing as he was too focused on the upcoming meeting. Entering the dining room, Orin returned to the Eypharians. Placing the platter in the center of the table, Orin stepped back, and clasped his hands together in front of him. “What I’ve made here is a fish curry inspired by your home, served over rice, along with cornbread filled with dates, bacon, and rosemary. I hope you find that it brings you joy.” Holding his breath, Orin waited on the Eypharian woman’s reaction.

For her part, she raised an exquisitely arched eyebrow. The rest of her party waited as well. Reaching out with her bottom left hand, she snagged a piece of cornbread, while her middle and top right hands spoon rice and curry onto her plate. She raised the cornbread to her mouth and took a dainty bite. Her eyes widen and she turned to stare at the bread, then Orin, then the bread again. More quickly now, she took up a forkful of the rice and curry, and put it into her mouth. Instantly, her eyes closed in bliss. Chewing and swallowing, she smiled, genuinely, for the first time. “This is absolutely divine. Simply incredible.” Turning to her fellow Eypharians, she urged them to serve themselves. “It’s better than home, really, truly.” Blinking what Orin thought were tears from her eyes, she spoke one more time. “Thank you for this.”

Orin felt a swell of relief, but he didn’t let himself sag, or show any signs. Instead, he simply commented, “I tried to think of my own homesickness, and how I managed to find joy in new places because of it. Hopefully some of that transferred. I hope you enjoy both the food and the rest of your visit in Riverfall.” Bowing again, Orin made a discrete exit, but the Eypharians were too caught up in the ecstasy of their food to notice.

Once back in the kitchen, Orin leaned against the wall. That whole endeavor had drained him even more than he had been. Still, he could only afford a few ticks of rest. Closing his eyes, Orin groaned. It was only going to get worse from here.
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Orin Fenix
Almost Iron But Actually Master Chef
 
Posts: 959
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Location: Riverfall
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[Almond Blossom] Preparation and Perspiration (Solo)

Postby Shaqira on July 14th, 2017, 9:08 am

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G R A D E



xp

Organization +1
Intimidation +1
Leadership +1
Subterfuge +2
Negotiation +2
Investigation +1
Endurance +1
Rhetoric +1



lores

Riverfall Culture: Feastday festival
Organization: Multitasking
Intimidation: A foul-temper is intimidating
Leadership: Giving positive encouragement
Eypharians: Six-armed race of the Ekytol deserts
Subterfuge: Putting on a bright smile to disguise true feelings
Negotiation: Ease customer complaints with apology & an offer of remedy
Book: ‘Cultures Around the World: Cuisines and Customs’
Investigation: Seeking knowledge in books
Endurance: Meeting a daunting challenge with self-encouragement
Cooking: Grinding herbs with water for a flavour-packed paste
Cooking: An exotic Eypharian fish curry dish
Cooking: Stir rice occasionally to prevent it sticking to the pot
Rhetoric: Revealing a little of your own feelings to relate to others
Eypharians: A proud race who appreciate their own culture


penalties

Orin will feel fatigued & a minor ache in his arms & legs for a day without or 12 bells with rest and/or healing.


notes - Go Orin, go! You paint Orin's inner-thoughts to the challenges thrown his way so realistically that it helps create excitement to see him thrown into the deep end of an unknown dish—and triumph!


  
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