Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Special Foodventure #20: Ghetto Gourmet Hits LA again (Silver Lake)

After being bummed out for missing Ghetto Gourmet's L.A. tour last month (the one that attracted a slew of writers & bloggers, who wrote about it here, here, and especially here) - imagine the thrill when I found out that they're doing another LA round this week! (and I didn't even find out about it through their official mailing list, but rather from a e-mail/posting by DailyCandy LA) - so feeling spontaneous - I paid my dues (~$40), packed a bottle of wine (Foppiano 2003 petit sirah, from Russian River Valley [Mendocino County]) & floor cushion, and off I went.

For those not familiar, Ghetto Gourmet started as an informal dinner party at someone's house up in the Bay Area with everyone chipping in for the bill, plus a little extra for the chef & staff. Like a rave or an underground party, exact directions are not provided until the near last minute (you do know which the neighborhood, big plus for commuter-crazy Los Angeles) and sometimes even the menu is a surprise.

This particular event was hosted at a lovely house in Silver Lake (at an undisclosed location - ;) ) - where we dined on low tables in a very chic and artsy den/living room. I was one of the first to arrive at around 7:45 p.m., but within 15 minutes the room was packed, and my table mates and I were already chatting up a storm and sharing our bottles of wine (my petit sirah was very good with chocolately-berry-spice flavors, as were my table mates' cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo, both of which had very good cherry-berry notes and pretty soft on the tannins.) At my table was an actress, a private chef, a tour guide, professional organizer/blogger, interior designer & a sound (for films) professional/instructor - all of us found out about this through DailyCandy.

Soon the event organizer & founder of Ghetto Gourmet, Jeremy Townsend, introduced himself and the gracious hosts that opened up their home for this, as well as our entertainment for the night (a pianist that I swear has a caffeine IV underneath his jacket with his energetic playing styles - and a comic that's charismatic and slightly abrasive) and the chef behind the dinner: Anita Bergmann.

Then started the plates of pass-around appetizers: apricot-stilton grougere, which were basically savory puffs of rich cheese with a slight fruity tang and a sprinkling of chives. Almost everyone at the table, including me, went for seconds.
Second course is a endive/celery root/green apple salad in a curry vinaigrette with curry fried shrimp, which I thought tasted OK - the combination was crisp and cool and you can tell and taste the freshness of the greens, but lacks a Wow! factor (mostly attributed to the dearth of curry flavors, which my tastebuds & nostrils barely picked up.) If I'd known ahead of time the spices was going to pretty mild, I'd probably pick a less peppery red wine (or even a white). The color was a bit bland too. After we finished the salad the musician & comedian had their turns entertaining us with songs & routines, and the audience seemed to have fun - not sure if that's due to their skills or to the alchy we've all downed thus far.
Then came the main dish: Beef short ribs braised in red wine with winter veggies & herbed gnocchi - a wonderful winter dish (would be even better if the night's colder) - it was a steaming plate of comfort-food goodness: meat that barely needs a knife to fall apart, chewy pieces of dough with a tinge of flavor, and wonderful veggies that are thoroughly cooked (one of my food pet peeves: not caring for veggies to be prepared "seared-ahi" style) but not mushy. The reds we had on our table paired wonderfully with this dish.
Finishing off the menu is what Anita dubbed crispy lemon alaskas - which looks and tastes like a sweetened & crisped wonton skins, alongside lemon granita/sorbet with a dab of pepper jelly. A simple dessert, but one that was very refreshing and fun for my mouth (with the contrasting tastes and textures from the three things), and one that I'd wish I had seconds of.

Jeremy wrapped it up with some more fun and games, my table-mates and I exchanged contact info & biz cards (the private chef being interested in throwing something similar) and in the night we went - it's a little past 11 p.m. and a work day, but it was an exhiliarating and fun experience & all in all the menu was good (though the beef dish did feel out of place in the menu, considerably heavier than the other light courses). Can't wait to participate (or even volunteer -- polishing up on my foodservice skills) in another one for the upcoming months.

Ghetto Gourmet

for those interested, Ghetto Gourmet has a few more events going on this week before hightailing it for their next set of events at Chicago, so visit their Web site, check it out, and sign up.

P.S. - wow, this week's L.A. series of GG has sold out already - I'm told. Guess DailyCandy has a greater reach than I expected.


Chubbypanda said...

An adventure to sink one's teeth into. Sounds like great way to spend $40.

- Chubbypanda

BoLA said...

Fun Fun! Am so glad that you tried it out and enjoyed your GG experience! ;)

A couple friends of mine were thinking of doing something like this on our own too. ;)


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