Unfamiliarity


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Here’s my plan (maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t, yet):

In conjunction with 20somethingmeals, I want to cook dinners in unfamiliar places.

Explanations are duly needed, I acutely understand. What this will become is a traveling dinner party. A supper club for those who want the gathering to happen in their house, and an experiment in unfamiliar territories in both location, company, and culinary geography for myself.

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How it all boils down is: after being invited (but of course, I am a gentleman through and through) I will come over to hosts’ homes, tread delicately through their kitchen to find the cheese grater, the cutting board, the emulsion blender, and the dull knives. I’ll find out how accurate the oven may be, if the mustard in the fridge is past due — or that smell is just authenticity — and cook coursed-out suppers to fuel the host’s dinner party.

I buy the ingredients. I cook the food. I serve and talk about it. I’ll even pair wines (I’ve been known to do that a few times before).

The hosts need only set a date, talk to me about what kind of food they want, how many people might be coming over for their dinner party, and I’ll do the rest.

The caveat? None, other than I might take pictures of the food and write about it later.

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In return, I’ll put out a donation jar just in case the food was that good.

If this sounds dope, or cool, or on just plain swell, email me and we’ll start thinking about what foods you want. The five borough are options. In the future, so are other cities… just sayin, my dear west coasters…

To suppers, in unfamiliar places!

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Unfamiliar suppers email: unfamiliarsuppers@gmail.com

And just in case you’ve ever wanted to email 20somethingmeals, there is an email address now. 20somethingmeals@gmail.com

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Story Time: Red Rooms and Snazzy Shoes

There are some days you need to treat yourself. Feel Good Friday. Sunday Funday. Thirsty Thursday. Whatever you want to call it, there are days for decadence.

In the middle of a never-ending shift at one of the restaurants I find myself in far too often, one of my dear sweet friends, turned to me adorned in her Egyptian-inspired apron/smock and asks “Do you want to go out to dinner?”

Yes. Of course yes. She tossed a few ideas around, but really they all landed on the same name at the end of her catalogue. “Here, here, here, or there?” “Oh, I had an idea, there!” “I would love to get a cocktail and a few snacks here or, really, there.”

With a few friendly phone calls, we were in at 9 o’clock at night for a feast that would leave us waddling out of the restaurant a half hour into the next day.

We got out our restaurant around seven, so with a glass of wine in us, we got ready, listened to the best and worst of current music, and headed over.

From the moment we walked into the restaurant, we felt important. It was the atmosphere of sophistication and a presumption that we, that is all of us that roamed and mingled around tables for two lit by small Tiffany-impersonating lamps, belonged there; we made it in life and could spend frivolous moneys on small portions of huge flavors.

Since the beginning of my endeavors, my journeys, into the food worlds – I have wondered what exactly was the preferred way to go about eating the perfect meal paired with adult imbibements. Cocktail, sparkling, white, red, dessert, espresso? Sparkling, cocktail, white, bigger white, red? Should hard liquor even play around with the amuse-bouche? Should alcohol even be around food – if the food is good enough, why even tamper with it?

That last question, in the face of true eaters, gastonomes, all over is a laugh. Even the revered Gopnik claims “Dinner with water is dinner for prisoners” (31, The Table Comes First).

In any case, we took to the first option: a cocktail at the bar with her in heels and a fur and me in snazzy shoes and a collared shirt. Gabbing about nothing and musing about our shift and those around us – how exactly do so many 20somethings have enough money to afford SoHo lofts and TriBeCa two-bedrooms – we spent fifteen minutes soaking up the higher class.

Once at our table, a small table for two in the corner of what looked to be a French brasserie, carpeted red and cushioned with comfort, we told the server – a joyous man – to choose our menu. We were hungry and ready to see what people really get for all of the hype and accolades. First, playful starters. Second, delicate seafood. Third, decadence. Fourth, gluttony. The food was outstanding playing around with fleur de sel, foie gras, truffles, fruit de mer, butter, homemade cheese, and chocolate. Poach, Roast, Braise, Brine, Sear, Mandolin, Julienne, serve raw and true. Radishes and Cauliflower, Chicken and Mozzarella, Uni and Brussels Sprouts – really this menu did no wrong. Paired with a half-pour of beautifully crafted wines for each course – the accolades stood tall and my wallet couldn’t handle this more often than a few times a year.

We walked our ways through the emptying restaurant to coat check, put our winter wardrobes back on, and exited back into the real world, escaping what seemed to be a secret, satiating hideaway.