Thursday, February 25, 2010

Underground Dinner Parties

Our friend Kevin started this new dining society called Just Call It a Dinner Party. Basically he puts on dinner once a month at a friend's home. He charges $30 for a multi-course meal and wine. Oh, and did we mention he works at Providence and is an amazing chef?!

We've been to two of his dinners so far -- both hosted in Silverlake. The first one was more of an outdoor, Summer-themed meal. He served a roasted corn and bacon salad to die for. He took some fresh corn-on-the-cob and cut off the kernels, mixed in some salty, crisped up bacon, added juicy grape tomatoes, and sprinkled it with red onion for a bitter touch. He also put together a proscuitto and squash blossom salad. He added shavings of parmesan and cucumbers for crunch. Finally he drizzled a generous helping of some of the most aged balsamic vinegar we've ever tasted (the vinegar was so thick and so sweet -- delicious).

For the main attraction, he grilled up an amazing piece of white fish, steamed a generous helping of clams, and prepared grilled steaks for the non-fish lovers.. The fish was served on a chopping block, so everyone could help themselves family style. He also brought out some perfectly crisped potatoes, which made for some amazing warmed up leftovers for days to come. We rounded out the dinner with homemade sorbet and fresh figs.

The most recent dinner was seated inside and set up a bit more formally. We started with warmed olive bread, served alongside whipped butter. First course was a bean cassoulet (a stew of sorts) with fresh beans, greens, and squid. Then out came little bits of roasted cauliflower with parmesan shavings. This was hands-down the best way we've ever eaten cauliflower -- bite size pieces, roasted until golden brown, which even created a sweetness to the vegetable. Then, to top it off, salty creamy parmesan. The last of the first courses was a sauteed potato and onion mixture. The dish was reminiscent of the potatoes from Kevin's Summer meal, but we didn't mind. They were crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and deliciously oniony.

This specific dinner event was unique because several people wrote in that they were vegetarian or had food allergies -- so to accomdate everyone, Kevin served up 4 main courses. Keep in mind, all these dishes were family style, so you can try anything and everything you want. In the shellfish arena, we were served scallops with a deep, smoky romesco sauce and steamed clams in an herbed broth. For the vegetarians: a potato and kimchi pancake with fried egg. And for the meat lovers: delicious, tender pork belly. The potato pancake was one of the more unique dishes we've seen prepared. Kevin mixed in homemade, pungent kimchi to the shredded potato and then proceeded to make a pancake the size of a dinner plate. We broke the egg yoke and spread it all over the pancake to add a creamy aspect to the dish.

Finally, we rounded out the evening with some homemade sorbet and cheese.

We can't wait for the next dinner - Sun, Mar 7! If you're interested, email and sign up. There should still be a couple of spots left. The dinner will be located in Echo Park and is guaranteed to be a fun and delicious time.

Here's the menu:
cute little hors d’oeuvres
santa barbara spot prawns & grits
sweetbreads lime/chile/queso fresco
pommes lyonnaise
korean short ribs, braised french style
fava beans a la plancha

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