When I throw a dinner party it consists of the best hummus you will ever taste (seriously I make some kick ass hummus), cheese, crackers, and probably some fruit just for giggles. But when you go to a chef’s dinner party, a chef who is aching to get back into the kitchen, well you are in for a treat because this gathering was appetizers and dinner to the “nth” power. But what else would you expect. Do I in anyway regret the kind of effort that was bestowed upon me? That’s like asking if I would deny myself a piece of cake right now if it were put in front of me, because the answer is “No”.
Friends were brought together and were treated like the best little guinea pigs as more ingredients, produce, and ideas were tested. Soft shells crabs, ramps, asparagus, rockfish, strawberries, gelato….I mean the list could go on and on. I know, I’m a food tease. But doesn’t it make you want some more? I know, I feel the same way.
It continues to be amazing to experience food that stays true to what it is. Where sauces are tools to enhance natural flavors rather than take over the show. A bite of rockfish tasted clean and pleasantly salty, like you were taking a bite of the ocean. Pickled ramps that enhanced the tanginess of caramello (a longer version of agnolotti) stuffed with sheep’s cheese that was light and airy. A perfect medium rare piece of rib eye that was earthy and accompanied by “These Aren’t Your Typical Ore Ida” tater tots that I wish I could have curled up on and made my pillow to sleep on. I realize that I have described three of the four elements in this meal: Earth, Wind, and Water. Since fire was used to bring together all these dishes I think it is safe to say the Equinox mission was met that night.
Dessert! Dessert! I cannot leave without a little tidbit on that. Did you know that when you bake strawberries that the flavor concentrates and becomes even more intense and sweet? It’s true! And when combined with strawberry soup, ricotta gelato, and thyme everything is deepened ten-fold. It once again proved that I do have a separate stomach for desserts; as by the end of all of our previous courses I was definitely full. (I’m much like a cow, which has a total of 7 stomachs; life could be worse.) Not only that it was the perfect example of all that has just come back into season. As a girl whose hometown hosts the annual California Strawberry Festival I was so happy to have some berries back in my life, because it has been a long winter and I am ready for spring. Apologies that I lack pictures of our wonderful sweet things; my camera ran out of power. Mea Culpa!
Privileged. That is a great way to describe how I felt the other night. Not only to become a part of this family but also to have the opportunity to experience tastes and sights that will not last much longer. Some produce such as ramps have only a small window when they are at their prime and can be enjoyed. Crab and rockfish will and have already been impacted by the oil spill that is still taking place just miles off the Gulf of Mexico. The fishing industry will be taking a major hit this season, which will mean limited supplies and high costs that are unfortunately unavoidable. Yet this is the time that we need to support our small vendors and become knowledgeable on responsible purchasing so that we do not further negatively impact an already delicate situation.
It is a learning process but I know we can all figure out how to do this together. I am enjoying being a student and I hope, that as your culinary interpreter, I can bring valuable information to your table as well. So here is to good friends and good times.