Summit New Years

2010-01-01 22:27:54.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

9 courses at once.

Being the night observer on the night of New Years allowed me to do a few “firsts” for the observatory. Nothing record breaking but sometimes it’s the little things. I got to put on the first new wind and temperature charts of the New Year and new decade. But I also got to do the first weather observation, the first deicing, first precipitation can collection, the first synoptic, the first radio broadcasts, the first higher summits forecast online and on the phone, and now the first comment on the front page. Although there were a lot of firsts for the New Year on my shift, the overall weather that occurred didn’t bring any new firsts for me. The clock hit midnight and life proceeded as usual on my shift. Our guests celebrated downstairs while I switched out the charts upstairs. The “Oh-Oh’s” decade came to an end last night as 2009 drew its last seconds and 2010 came rolling in starting what some are calling the “Teens” decade or the funnier decade definition of the “Onesies”. But earlier in the night, I did experience a new first on the summit: a nine course dinner with an Edutrip, who, unlike my last New Years Edutrip the first year I worked here, stayed up until midnight instead of kicking off at 10 pm.

The dinner went smoothly and was one of the best ones I have had up here or pretty much anywhere. What made it even cooler is seeing what it took leading up to it. Since I was in charge of weekly shopping this week, that meant I was graced with the list of what to buy. When I got the list, some of the items on the list were items I had never even heard of and since Berlin only has a choice of small IGA and a Super Walmart (who, despite being big and cheap, has a small selection of unique menu items), this meant I had to travel an hour south to North Conway, NH to fulfill the needs of this list. And I found out via my Facebook status update that the head Chef of this Edutrip, John Bauhs, was going to be in the area Tuesday afternoon. So to make my life easier, I convinced him to come shopping with me to pick out what he wanted for the dinner.

Well, after three hours of shopping, plenty of assistance from multiple Shaw’s employees and many, many, many cell phone calls to the summit and valley offices, we completed our shopping list. Loading all the grocery bags in the back of my small hatchback car, I felt like I was stuffing one of those cartoons clown cars where 100 clowns come out of small toy car. And with temperatures expected in the negative single digits Tuesday night, that meant when I got home, each one of the bags would have to come inside for the night then back out in the morning. Unloading Tuesday night took 15 minutes followed up by a reloading of 15 minutes some 12 hours later on Wednesday. Then they were once again unloaded from my car and loaded into the Bombardier tractor, brought up and unloaded once again at the summit.

As soon as we arrived on the summit, John and Ed (the two volunteers) unbagged the groceries, double checked everything, then set out on the task of preparation of the meal more than 24 hours away. Ending around 130 am the night of Wednesday, they both put about 13 hours in. Then starting on Wednesday, they went back to work preparing lunch and the rest of dinner. When all was said and done with the last dish placed into the dishwasher, they had put in an additional 17 hours of work on New Years Eve. A surreal amount of time but resulting in an exceptional dinner which couldn’t have been rushed. So from buying to presenting, some 34 hours of work were put into a 2.5 hour meal.

And what about the meal itself? Well, by the end of them I was stuffed. Normally, I would have called it quits by course 5 but each plate looked so good when placed in front of me that I pushed through the mental block and pushed on until the last bite of ice cream. If you have ever seen “Monty Python and The Meaning of Life” I felt like Mr. Creosote who eats and eats then pays for it when he eats a wafer-thin mint. But luckily the results of my last bite didn’t end as poorly as it did for Mr. Creosote.

If you checked out Brian’s link yesterday, you saw our menu of meals but they say a picture is worth 1000 words, so here is what each course looked like (just click on the underlined highlighted words for a picture pop up):

Course 1: Amuse Bouche; various croustades, appetizers, nibbles and beverages

Course 2: Smoked Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Course 3: Belgian Endive Salad with Spiced Pears and Blue Cheese

Course 4: Maine Lobster with Mango, Avocado, Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Ginger-Lime Sauternes Sauce

Course 5: Duck Breast with Port Wine Shallot Reduction

Course 6: Ragout of Lamb with Olives and Preserved Lemon

Course 7: Chateubriand with Bernaise

Course 8: Assorted Cheeses and Winter Fruit Chutney

Course 9: The “Rockpile Trio,” featuring a Banana Caramel Tart, Mini Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake and Roasted Coconut Ice Cream

It was a lot of fun ringing in the New Year with a great group of people. They got a great meal and a great day of weather on the summit of the rockpile. While the remainder of our Edutrips won’t have a nine course meal with them, the meals our winter volunteers prepare are equally great. If you have never been to the summit in the winter, an Edutrip is a great way to experience the mountain, the people, our lifestyles, and our nightly dinner and the converstations that go along with them. For more information on how you can visit the summit and for a list of some of our other Edutrips expected this season, click here. And if you want to find out more about how to prepare meals just like this, Chef John Bauhs (the person behind this meal) will be leading an Edutrip to teach how to prepare meals at altitude. For more information or to sign up for this particular trip, click here. We hope to see you some time this year where you can make some memorable firsts for yourselves in the first year of the decade of “Onesies”.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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