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!

Dinner recap: Childhood

I don’t care who you are or where you’re from—everyone has strong food memories from childhood. Some of us think back fondly to summer ice cream cones by a lake. Some people can still taste Grandma’s lasagna or fried chicken. And for more than a few of us, the smell of chocolate chip cookies takes us right back to Mom’s kitchen.

What’s for dinner has always been a big topic of conversation and bonding for my family. When I was growing up, my mom made nearly everything our family ate, from bread to pickles and preserves to peanut butter. She grew herbs in the backyard and took me and my brother along to pick blueberries at the farms nearby. She taught me why you don’t eat tomatoes in December (unless you canned them, which we did) and why you should handle your bread dough as little as possible. And she was my co-conspirator for my very first dinner party—a Big Night-themed, six-course extravaganza for 12 of my friends in high school.

Those memories were the inspiration behind our April 11 menu. For this meal, each dish was a reimagined version of one of my earliest food memories (and in the case of the nuggets dish, memories of one of the foods I was forbidden to eat). My mom even flew in from Portland to help out! She’s an incredible baker, so all of the pastry and breads in the meal were her delicious handiwork.

Here’s the menu we presented. I grew up in Oregon, so the pairings all came from some of our favorite Oregon wineries and distilleries as well:

BREAKFAST (egg and bacon pop tart, hot sauce, maple)
House Spirits Coffee Liqueur

PB&J (foie gras torchon, brioche, three homemade jams)
Trisaetum “Estates Reserve” Willamette Valley Riesling, 2012

EAT YOUR VEGETABLES (asparagus, hazelnut, egg)
Eyrie Vineyards “Estate” Dundee Hills Chardonnay, 2011

LEFTOVERS (salmon, dill, bucatini)
Brick House “The Dragon’s Tale” Ribbon Ridge Gamay Noir, 2013

NUGGETS (chicken, honey mustard, peas + carrots)
Division-Villages “Beton,” 2014

SUMMER (strawberry shortcake)
Clear Creek Grappa Moscato

We’d love to see you at our next dinner. To get an invite, sign up for our mailing list!

Reservations now open for Wine vs. Beer, 5/21

For next month’s dinner, we will attempt to answer one of life’s great dilemmas: wine or beer?

Each of our five courses will be paired with *both* a wine and a beer. We’ll be highlighting several of our favorite local booze producers–as well as some favorites from further afield.

This event will be on Saturday, May 21 at 7pm. Cost will be $85, inclusive of all the beverage pairings. We’ll send confirmed guests the exact directions to our location (in the Dogpatch) a few days before the dinner.

Seats went quickly for our 4/15 event, so drop us a note ASAP to RSVP. Hope to see you there!

When wine pairings compete, everyone wins

Huge thanks to all of our guests for the Spring dinner this past Friday! We had a fabulous time meeting and eating with all of you, and we hope to see you again soon.

For those of you who couldn’t be part of the extravaganza, here’s how it went down.

Course 1: Pickled vegetables, ricotta, peas

We welcomed everyone with a cocktail of neighborhood-made Junipero gin and housemade tonic. (If you want to try making this at home–and you should, since it’s super easy and tasty–use Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe as a base.) We followed that up with our amuse bouche: a green strawberry gazpacho using unripened berries from Dirty Girl.

Then we dove into our first course. This plate featured lightly pickled strips of carrot and beet on a disk of basil-flecked ricotta. On top: fresh peas, pickled pearl onions, shaved raw kumquats, and onion flowers that lent a little bit of sharp bite. Dan paired this with a 100% chenin blanc 2009 Pierre et Catherine Breton “La Dilettante” Vouvray Sec. The wine contributed light, crisp fruit and a refreshing minerality to complement the fresh flavors of the vegetables.

Course 2: Roots and sprouts in soil

Then we moved on to our second course–roots and sprouts in soil, inspired by Rene Redzepi’s gooooooooorgeous book NOMA (available at Omnivore Books in Noe Valley). This dish involved a semi-ridiculous number of components, but it looked and tasted fantastic in the end. On the plate, in no particular order: Parsnip puree; “soil” made with powdered hazelnuts; roasted red and gold beet rings; blood orange gel; quenelle of kalamata olive tapenade; yellow carrot pickled with saffron and red pepper threads; orange carrot pickled with red chilis, black pepper, and oregano; purple carrot pickled with star anise, allspice, and cinnamon; pea shoots; and calendula petals.

This course is where the evening’s real fun began. One of our guests–an avid wine collector with a large, well-curated cellar–very generously offered to share several wines from his library as alternate pairings. Our pick: a 2009 Ehrhard “Rocken” Rheingau Riesling Dry. The alternate pick: a 2002 Alzinger trocken Riesling Smaragd, Loibner Loibenberg. This wine brought in a nice roundness that the younger wine lacked. Both choices offered a lovely lean counterpoint to the earthiness of the roasted roots and the nutty soil.

For our third course, we served a barley and chanterelle risotto made with Dan’s incredibly dense, savory mushroom stock. A bit of fresh mint, a pea puree, and foraged Douglas fir tips garnished the plate. Our wine pick: the very earthy 1998 Thomas Fogarty Late Disgorged Blanc des Blancs, which has been a big favorite around Hearsay HQ lately (we liked it so much that Dan bought out the stock at K&L, actually–but they should be reordering). Our alternate pairing: a delicious 2002 Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques that paired very well but didn’t sing with the mushrooms quite the same way as the bubbles.

The fourth course gave many of our guests their first taste of lamb heart. This underappreciated meat is incredibly lean and tender, not at all gamy, and easy to cook. We roasted the hearts in a dry rub made with cocoa nibs, Vietnamese cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin, then served them with caramelized cauliflower in a brown butter sauce, preserved lemon and pea shoot gremolata, and ground pistachios.

We actually had three wine options for this course. Our pick–the Rare Wine Company Historic Series Savannah Verdelho Madeira–was chosen to underscore the warming middle eastern flavors of the dry rub with just a little sweetness and some resonant depth. The alternate, and extremely excellent, pairings: more of the Burgundy from the risotto course and a very elegant 1998 Domaine Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape, Cuvee Chaupin.

For dessert, we offered a cheese plate with a mild French blue cheese and an aged gouda (both from Cowgirl Creamery) along with apricot preserves, a red wine caramel, and crispy honeycomb candy. Our wine pick: a 2003 Chateau Pajzos Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos (another Hearsay HQ perennial favorite). Alternate pairing: a 1989 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes that tasted like liquid gold and is, to my mind, potentially the most perfect cheese wine of all time. A few housemade salted chocolate caramels finished up the evening on a sweet note.

So. An epically great night. Thank you again to everyone who shared it with us!