In research mode

So, apologies for being more or less MIA since our May dinner. I joined a new company in June, and we’ve been traveling a lot this summer.

The upside of all the madness? Lots of tasty adventures. We’re super excited to bring all of the inspiration we’re collecting to our dinners in the fall. If you aren’t on our mailing list, you should be… that’s the only way to get an invite. Sign up now!

Reporting back from Sherryfest West 2013

Good things come in barrels. (Obviously.) Therefore, something that comes from many, many barrels must be extra good, right? We went to Portland last week to investigate this theory at Sherryfest West 2013.

Sherry, which is a fortified wine made from palomino grapes in the Jerez region of Spain, sees an awful lot of barrel time when it’s aged in a solera system. A solera is a series of barrels where part of the wine in each barrel is regularly moved to the next stage (or criadera) and replenished with new, younger wine from the criadera before it. This constant partial movement means that by the time wine is drawn out of the last criadera for bottling, it is a mix of wine that is relatively young and wine that can be very, very old—more than 150 years in some of the oldest soleras. During this process, the wine can be aged biologically (under a layer of flavor-producing yeast called flor) and/or oxidatively, by simply leaving the barrels about one-sixth empty to expose the wine to oxygen.

A lot of Americans share an unfortunate cultural memory of sherry as a treacly, cloying after-dinner drink—and a few decades ago, most of what you could buy on the American market probably wasn’t very good. But actually, the vast majority of sherry is completely dry. These dry sherries pair smashingly well with food, providing a range of nutty, saline, and umami tones and occasionally surprising notes like butter toffee, black olive, orange peel, or baking spices. Continue reading

A proper Porteño empanada

Calzones, samosas, bisteeya–virtually every culture has their version of a savory handheld pie. Some are clearly better than others (I’m talking to you, Hot Pockets). And for my money, one of the very best is the traditional Argentine empanada.

The most traditional empanadas are filled with chopped or ground beef spiced with cumin and paprika and mixed with tomato, olives, hard-cooked egg, and raisins. Together, these ingredients add up to more than the sum of their parts through a complex balance of meatiness, acidity, sweetness, and salt.

Since we’re currently hanging out in Buenos Aires for a bit, I thought we should learn to make proper empanadas. We spent a sunny Saturday afternoon in the kitchen with Norma Soued, a practicing clinical psychologist who gives Argentine cooking workshops out of her Belgrano apartment. Norma teaches in a mix of Spanish and English and speaks fluent French as well–perfect for the parade of foreigners who attend her classes each week. Continue reading

We’re taking June off to make PIE


So. After spending the past week hiking volcanos, swooning over gorditas from street vendors, and enjoying muchas margaritas in central Mexico, we’re fully refreshed and ready to get back to business in San Francisco. (Well… almost. But alas.) And we have a bunch of exciting things coming up this summer that you should know about.

First up: PIE. Instead of hosting a meal at Hearsay HQ in June, we’ll be competing in SF Food Wars PIE OR DIE Part Deux–a 20-competitior pie extravaganza that will be held at the Ferry Building on June 12. Look for us at Table 2. We’ll be vying for glory with our curried cranberry cardamom pie pops.

Our next regular monthly dinner will be on Saturday, July 16. We haven’t gotten around to choosing a theme or a menu yet–but if you really trust us or are just that adventurous, you’re welcome to RSVP starting now (cost will be $80 per person). We’ll announce the theme in a week or two and post the announcement on Facebook and Twitter at that point.

BTW, here’s how our process works when we open an event up for reservations. We always send the announcement out to our mailing list first. Reservations and waitlist spots are first-come, first served (we’ll ask you to confirm your reservation by making payment via PayPal). A day or two later, if we still have seats available, we’ll post the invitation on Facebook and Twitter. We typically only have 8 to 12 seats open for each dinner, so being on the waitlist is definitely your best bet for scoring a spot.

Hope to see you at one of our events soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for the play-by-play on our summer eating and drinking adventures in Mexico, Tennessee, Michigan, Chicago, and Portland. Cheers!