For those of you who are following my post, I have to apologize for not keeping it up last week. Actually I wrote a blog and had Cari-Ann post it but I changed my mind about running it so I had Abigail pull it down. The reasons shall be secret. I had written disparagingly about what someone else was doing or attempting to do and I have made a vow against being negative in any way and I came to the realization that I was breaking my vow.
I found a few things that still didn’t fit into the no preservative regimen, only marginally but needing to be changed out nevertheless. One of them was our molasses so if you had our steak sauce in the last week you might have gotten a little tiny amount of preservative. It wasn’t intentional. We thought we had it entirely licked but in every endeavor there are fits and starts. I think we now have it totally under control. In addition, I have started a policy of checking everything I buy as I pick it up in Chicago. Nothing is ever perfect but this is about as close to being perfect as can be because I buy everything personally.
Having said that, after becoming totally scratch, it wasn’t all that hard to get to the point of having no preservatives. But let me explain what I mean by scratch. Scratch means that we make everything we sell from basic ingredients. True, we do not churn our own butter or make our own cheese, but we do make our own sausages and our own bacon. We also make all our condiments like catsup, mayonnaise, steak sauce, salad dressings (five), deserts, breads, in fact, everything but the mustard.
I decided to keep the French mustard so that we could say we made everything but the mustard. I thought this would better delineate the fact that we do make everything else by making it known that we do not make the mustard. I was amused by a television commercial for another restaurant where they are claiming to be scratch. Then they invite you in to try the fish tacos with their new Sriracha mayonnaise not realizing that by that statement they have revoked their scratch status. I would bet a hundred-dollar bill that they do not make their mayo either.
If you are going to be scratch, not only do you have to make your own hot sauce (at the Rose we make two and sometimes three) but you also have to make your own mayo using Italian olive oil and cage free Amish eggs. Any bets on whether they actually do? I could use a little extra cash. Take my word going preservative free is not an easy undertaking, because first, and foremost, you have to make all your own products. Almost everything that comes into a restaurant from a commercial purveyor has chemical additive or preservative. The only real way to avoid them is by making your own using preservative free ingredients.
So when the next Rockford restaurant says that they are scratch or preservative free, I encourage you to look at it with a jaundiced eye, unless it is more than a year from now, because that’s how long it took us and we were already a scratch restaurant. I say this knowing that many will cheat. As for our endeavor I encourage you to talk to my people, any of them, as everyone who works here is aware of our policies and familiar with all the work that went into getting to the point of being preservative free.
Now that we were going to be preservative free, we needed a television commercial to tell everyone what we had accomplished so on a Wednesday we got together to make one. I wrote and videoed it. After we were done shooting Cari-Ann went up to my place to edit it only to discover that we had no audio. The new clip-on microphone had malfunctioned.
This necessitated our waiting another week and shooting it all over on the following Wednesday. Finally, we got it right. It was during this time that I found the offending molasses and replaced it so as with all hitch-ups of this nature, there was a silver lining. We hadn’t lied to anyone at this point and now we have clean molasses. Reminds me of a plane I didn’t get on, only to watch it explode all over the area west of O’Hare. It never pays to be in a hurry and you never know the reason you might be being delayed. Maybe you are missing a fifteen car pile-up on the freeway. It just wasn’t my time.
Next week we are going to replace a coil in our beer cooler, the one that cools the draft beer. We probably won’t have any draft beer on Tuesday (and Wednesday is our fall back day) but we probably shouldn’t have any problems beyond that (but I never forget the day I missed Flight 191 and now I always take one day at a time). Hopefully by the time I go to Chicago on Thursday I will have this final improvement in our infrastructure completed.
By the way, business has been absolutely terrific the last five weeks in a row. Thanks to all of you for giving us such outstanding support. My last few years of being downtown are turning in to the best years of being here. I owe everything to you, the folks who support us in this most unlikely of places to run a preservative free restaurant, downtown Rockford in 2016.