A long weekend away with my knitting besties? Just what the doctor ordered. We made our way to a cabin in West Virginia for three days of 80s movies (on VHS no less), bacon, birthdays, knitting, cross stitch, and nature.
I didn’t knit a single stitch, giving my thumb a nice long rest; instead I cross-stitched and embroidered. At night I slept in the top bunk over Caro and listened to the rain fall on the roof in a darkness that I cannot find here in Brooklyn without an eye mask. Mornings, I made lemon-ricotta pancakes. One day we went blackberry picking, which JulieFrick later made into a cobbler. Pam devoted 11 avocados to her amazing guacamole. Nova finished a shawl, while Specs finished a legwarmer and a cross stitch project (that’s for me!). Heather spoke to us in French and kept us stocked with wine. We celebrated Christy and Julie’s birthdays (and Diana and Ashley’s, in absentia). Caro made us her famous Mephistopheritas (Margaritas with habanero-infused tequila). We went out at midnight in the 50-degree night and craned our necks to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We laughed until it hurt.
There’s been this movement in the food world of the past few years, these “underground” supper clubs, in which a chef cooks a dinner party for guests, who pay, and who don’t necessarily know each other. I suppose the idea is to have an intimate but elegant meal that is entirely unique. Some might call it a hipster thing to do; I think it’s pretty bougie. But I’m just bougie enough to have leapt at the opportunity to attend!
Scott calls his dinners “Stagionarsi” from the Italian for “season,” which has a double meaning here: both the seasoning of food and the commitment to creating meals inspired by the seasons. The chef emailed with us ahead of time to find out about food restrictions, allergies, and the like. It was so personal and friendly, and I know my friends (who do have allergies) were well accommodated.
Each of the food courses was paired with wine; the dessert course was wine-less but there was Basil Hayden’s whiskey for us to drink (oh wow tasty). I took notes on my phone, and you will see in many of these uncropped photos of my plates that my phone is still on! This was documentation more than glamorous photography, as you will see, but I’m going to include every course here nonetheless. Click to read more, and enjoy!
Revelry Chardonnay. Chickpea “panisse” seasoned with pear and nutmeg, served with a black garlic aioli. So delicate and delicious! Subtle flavors that weren’t overpowered by the wine. I don’t like Chardonnay but this was very tasty. This was a perfect starter to make you want more. (But I could don my Tom Colicchio hat and deride the curly parsley on the plate. Garnishes without purpose make Tom craaazy on Top Chef.)
Gentil “Hugel” Alsace Riesling. Braised greens salad (collards? kale? wasn’t specified) with barley and what smelled like sherry vinegar. If this was more fully explained I wasn’t listening! I liked this a lot, and the sweetness of the wine was a nice complement to the bitterness of the greens.
Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo. Butternut and cabocha squash soup with a garnish of sauteed hen of the woods and hedgehog mushrooms. Also garnished with a triangle of a truffle cheese (chef couldn’t remember the name and didn’t update us) and a line of truffle salt. This was so THICK, it was more like baby food than soup, but it was delicious through and through. The truffle element surprised me by being so perfect; I am definitely adding that the next time I make my roasted butternut squash soup!
Nikolaihof Wacahu Gruner Veltliner. Smoked salmon cakes with black radish, celeriac, and parsnip in the mix, served with a celeriac remoulade. These were good, nice and salty and crispy. Some claimed they were their favorite course, but I just wanted more of the soup!
Valpolicella Dry Red Wine (not sure the winery). Potato gnocchi, spinach and butternut squash gnudi, with sage butter and a healthy streak of cracked black pepper. The gnocchi/gnudi were fantastic! But browned butter with sage was surprising in its lack of originality; the dish just felt dated/old fashioned (are we still only pairing gnocchi with sage browned butter, really?). The wine was nice and peppery, and that complemented the pepper in the dish nicely.
I didn’t see the wine bottle, but this was a Shiraz/Grenache/Mouvedre blend. That same wine was used in the reduction on the plate that accompanied this pork belly cooked with a juniper berry rub of juniper berry salt, thyme, and garlic. The cut and preparation reminded me a bit of the Norwegian Christmas specialty, ribbe. Wish that skin had gotten more crispy, but the flavors were great.
No wine at dessert to go with the “deconstructed cannoli” that I forgot to photograph before diving in! The ricotta ice cream was studded with flecks of chocolate and was fabulous; the plate had a chocolate streak and a sprinkling of espresso salt. That made the dish, in my opinion! The cookie, a play on a cannoli shell, was hazelnut based.
All in all, it was a fabulous meal, and it was so much fun to be there with other food-passionate people, most of whom I’d never met before. It was a great hodgepodge of folks: Sarah-Ann of Eat Drink Repeat, a cheesemaker, a specialty food shop worker, the proprietor of SupermarketHQ.com (actually a design site, not a food one), someone from Seamless, a lawyer, software engineers, and me! Conversation was wide-ranging, as you might expect, but the food was always there to hold us together. And there were several knitting enthusiasts there, too, so I wasn’t completely out of place :)
A festival of oysters! Last night friends and I went to a fundraiser for the New Amsterdam Market down near the former Fulton Fish Market. I was happy to support the market, and with an abundance of oysters (both raw and in cooked dishes), I excitedly bought us tickets…
People are always asking me for restaurant recommendations in New York City, which is really embarrassing for me. I don’t know the next coolest spot, I haven’t tried all the fancy standards. Normally if I go out to eat, I’m looking for something that maximizes the cheap to tasty ratio, and I don’t have time for the tomfoolery of haute cuisine. (But I wish I had the disposable income to partake in both!)
Last night, however, I was lucky enough to go to WD-50, Wiley Dufresne’s molecular gastronomic restaurant on the Lower East Side (which, truth be told, is not new in the slightest), with a friend. And we went whole-hog, getting the tasting menu—all 11 courses and then petit fours. We happily analyzed every bite, picking apart the components before assembling them on our forks. Some courses blew us away, others left us feeling “meh.” And I managed to snag a photo of every course.