Dinner recap: Eastern Mediterranean

Every one of our dinners is experimental. But last month, we tried something completely new: we hosted two dinners on consecutive nights! I was a little nervous about the additional prep, managing two guests lists, and (let’s be honest) the massive volume of dishes… but I think things actually turned out quite well.

Photos courtesy of Airbnb

The first night’s group, sent to us by Airbnb, was super fun. In addition to a handful of people from the company, the table also included several travelers from around the country, all visiting San Francisco and seeking food adventures. It was a real privilege to meet everyone and give several of our guests their first underground dining experience. Also, big thanks to Mike Xia, who was kind enough to take a break from getting his startup off the ground to help us out in the kitchen!

The second evening was a regular ticketed Hearsay dinner, and many of our diners were return guests. It’s really great to see people coming back again and again—thanks for being part of the experiment with us!

This is the menu we presented:

Watermelon, feta, chili
Can Mayol Loxarel “999” Brut Nature Rosat, Penedes

Romano beans, yogurt, dill
Skouras “Zoe” Rosé, Peloponnese, 2014

Smoked eggplant, za’atar
Domaine Sigalas “Aa,” Santorini, 2014

Whole roasted fish, avgolemono
Sipun Zlahtina, Island of Krk, 2013

Bisteeya
Musar “Jeune” Rouge, Bekaa Valley, 2012

Cardamom pistachio ice cream, figs, burnt honey
Yeni Raki

We have several private dinners on the books for October, so look for invites to our next regular ticketed dinner in your inbox in November. Cheers!

The perfect five-bottle bar

the perfect five bottle bar

The perfect five-bottle bar: (1) Faultline bourbon, (2) Fernando de Castilla Antique amontillado sherry, (3) St. George Terroir gin, (4) Dolin Rouge vermouth, and (5) Campari

A few weeks ago, Dan’s sister Rachel asked for a cocktail lesson. Her reasoning was solid: cocktails are the perfect thing for a person who lives alone and will never finish a bottle of wine solo. And they’re fun! So true.

But Rachel’s request also came with a challenge. Because she’s starting from scratch and doesn’t want to spend a fortune stocking the bar, she wanted to pinpoint just five bottles that would give her lots of options—not to mention make her look like a cocktail genius.

The easy thing to do, of course, would have been to send her away to find vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and whiskey, along with the proportions for a sour. And hey—there’s nothing wrong with the basics. But that felt like a cop-out. I wanted to help her find her cocktail personality. And I wanted each of the five bottles to be worthy of drinking on their own.

So we embarked on an epic tasting journey.

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5 new things you should try this summer

Ah, the dog days of summer. What is it about later sunsets that makes us so decadently lazy? Every year it’s the same: Memorial Day rolls around and, like clockwork, we grill burgers five nights a week. Don’t get me wrong—I love burgers as much as the next girl—but if you venture past the culinary usual suspects, summer has so much more to offer.

Don’t miss these five quintessential summer experiences:

  1. Drink fino sherry. Made from the Palomino grape in Spain and allowed to oxidize in a tiered system of barrels called a solera, sherry ranges from pale and light (fino) to dark and deeply nutty (oloroso). These wines are fortified and typically have between 15 and 22 percent alcohol. They age under a layer of yeast called flor, which gives them a unique woodsy characteristic. Refreshing fino sherries make a great aperitif on a warm night and—bonus!—go really well with summery food.
  2. Pickle something. It’s not as difficult as you think. Mix one cup of vinegar with one cup of water, add half a cup of sugar and a quarter cup of kosher or sea salt, and heat in a saucepan until everything is dissolved. Fill a glass jar with some kind of amazing summer produce (yes, fruits work too—try cherries) and pour the pickling liquid in to cover them. Stick the jar in the fridge overnight. Eat the pickles within 3-4 days. Easy, right?
  3. Make your own limoncello. This Italian liqueur, made from the lemons that weigh down the trees of the Amalfi Coast, is typically served after dinner as a digestif—but I like to use it as a base for grown-up lemonade too. To make your own, dissolve 1 3/4 cups of sugar in 2 1/2 cups water, add the zest of 10 lemons and a bottle of high-proof vodka, and steep the mixture in a clean glass bottle for 6 weeks. Then filter it a few times through a chinois or coffee filter, return it to the bottle, and keep in the freezer.
  4. Grill a pizza. Get your grill as hot as possible. Roll your pizza dough out so it’s super-thin. Brush the grill grate with vegetable oil, then slide the round of dough onto the grate and cook for about 1 minute, then flip the crust over and cook for another minute, until the bottom of the crust is browned. Add your favorite toppings and warm the whole pizza on the grill. Pro tip: grilled pizza goes really well with a Bandol rosé.
  5. Get crazy with your strawberries. It’s tough to improve on one of nature’s most perfect foods, but I know of two oddball ways to do it: macerate the berries in balsamic vinegar, or toss them with fresh basil. Or both. Seriously.

What do you love eating and drinking in the summer? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday in the Hearsay liquor lab

Our cocktail pairings dinner coming up on Saturday–so it’s game on in the Hearsay liquor lab this week.

Green Lady
2 ounces St. George Spirits Dry Rye gin
2 ounces Cointreau
2 ounces green Chartreuse
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce tangerine juice

Shake and strain into coupes. Garnish each glass with 3 fresh tarragon leaves.