(Empty dining room of Lost Society, site of pop-up dinner)
Sometimes you end up in exactly the right place at precisely the right time. Such was the case with a visit to Washington, D.C. in late February. I had traveled to the Florida for the wedding of a close friend, and decided to take a few more days to travel up the coast to DC to visit a few more friends before heading back across the pond. Upon returning from the wedding I received an email from Catherine, a now-DC friend (and editor of the wonderful Edible DC) whom I had first gotten to know when she interned at Paris by Mouth, “Have to go to this tomorrow night for work. Care to go??”
(Bouillabaisse with chorizo, mussel juice, kaffir lime leaves and hot cream; cocktail – champagne)
What she referred to as a duty was, in reality, a multi-course pop-up dinner, complete with matching cocktails and only 13 other diners plus the chef, who was using this format to test out new menu options for a restaurant in development. There was never a question of my attending. I flew in, dropped off my bags and hailed a taxi just as fast as my little legs (and DC traffic) would let me.
Summed up? It was more than worth every harried minute. Dinner was extraordinary, the cocktails creative and perfectly paired with the flavors of the food, the company delightful and the chef, Aaron Silverman, down-to-earth, humble and excited about his cuisine. He was especially generous with permissions for photos and details about the preparation and ingredients of the food itself. I scrambled to record his descriptions on my iPhone and to get the best photos possible in the low light of the lounge restaurant our group had taken over for the evening. I promised, at the end of the night, that I would write all of this up, including the photos and email it around to the staff and guests ASAP.
(Dungeness crab, artichoke, sabayon, dill)
And then there are those moments in which you find yourself at exactly the wrong place at the precisely the wrong time. One week after returning from DC, while riding the metro home from work (at a completely reasonable hour and on a ‘safe’ line, I promise), I was mugged. My iPhone was snatched from my grasp and yanked out of the car, taking me along with it, as I was still connected by the big, nerdy headphones that Parisians – and now me – favor. The thief and I tussled on the train platform before he was able to break the cord connecting us and run off. I spun around, discombobulated and feeling not a little violated. The other passengers stood still and silent, necks bent out of the open car doors and windows from where they had watched our fight. It was not until my shoulders slumped in defeat and I got back on the waiting car that they all started speaking at me, at once, commiserating and exclaiming how awful the crime in the city has gotten – although not one of them had stepped out to help me only a few minutes before.
(Caramelized cauliflower with greek yogurt, country ham, truffled breadcrumbs and raisin purée; cocktail – Calvados, ghost and habenero pepper-infused, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest, i.e. AMAZING)
A few days later I sat down, my (mostly) optimistic outlook restored to finally record my amazing DC meal and realized that all of my notes from that night were gone. Lost, along with the rest of what I had stored in that machine, which had become a notepad, address book, music collection, photo repository (oh, the FFFFPs that I had for you all!) and phone all rolled into one. Dejected and angry, I kept questioning myself: Why did I sit right next to the metro door making me such an easy target? Where was all that self-defense training when I actually needed it? Feeling disappointed all over again, I put the photos and the beginnings of my post away.
(‘Caesar salad’, fried brussels sprouts, parmesan and caesar dressing; cocktail – rye whiskey, tamarind, brown sugar syrup, allspice, lemon)
Miraculously, just a few weeks ago, I was poking around my email account – looking for an old, unrelated message when I realized that, somehow, all of my iPhone notes had been synched by Gmail. This included all the details and contacts from Aaron’s amazing dinner, as well as my optimized pattern for the perfect knit beer coozy, clearly two priceless recoveries. Good on you Apple and Google – I know you both are tracking my every move, charting my personality for advertising purposes and probably invading my privacy in ways I cannot even begin to understand, but for today I am totally A-OK with that. Under my nose, in an attempt to make my life easier, you had stored up all those notes and thoughts I had made and, by doing so, brought back the memory of one of the best meals I have eaten in recent memory. Sweet.
(Chilaquiles, Modelo especial)
(Menudo, roast pork and tripe)
In reality, all credit for this meal go to Catherine (for the invite) and Aaron (for the chef-ery). As I thought I had lost Aaron’s email – I have not kept in touch – but am hoping that the arrival of this much belated post in his inbox will gain me an update on how those restaurant plans are progressing.
(Cheese course, mini monte cristo with housemade raspberry jam)
To all my DC folk – if there is the possibility, please seek this one out. He knows his way around the kitchen and and has a great time with it. It is more-than-about time that I owe him a thank you. Maybe we can all make the trek together when I return to DC in October?
(Apple pie, Ritz cracker ice cream, Ritz crumbles, caramel, roasted apples, apple syrup, Cabot cheddar)
(Aaron (left) and Co. after the dinner, deservedly smiling)