Monday, May 19, 2008

The Inwoodist goes somewhere to eat

What an extraordinary weekend this has been: first on Thursday, California rules that gay people can marry, then on Saturday, I have a fabulous dinner with complete strangers only a ten-minute walk from my apartment.

For those not in the know, to have a fabulous dining experience in New York usually requires an Inwood resident to hop on a train to Midtown, Downtown, Brooklyn, or Queens (Astoria). Since subways are almost always under construction on weekends, this pretty much guarantees a trip of one hour or more each way, which gets old quickly.

Now to the rescue comes Somewhere to Eat. STE is the delectable brainchild of an Inwood-based chef, who prepares private dinners in his apartment for groups of eight. The meals are completely artisanal, use seasonal and locally grown ingredients wherever possible, and are organized around different culinary themes. Since I don't eat meat, I signed up to attend a vegetarian event.

On Saturday evening, I left my apartment at 7:25 and arrived at 7:35, already utterly delighted to have such a short walk to my destination. The guests included a local gay couple and four Brooklynites who were friends of our hosts (two were married, the third was from Spain, and the fourth had married our hosts via the Universal Life Church). All of us, I suspect, were in our thirties, and most of us were vegetarian (at least to some degree). The menu included the following six courses:

Chapeau rolls (with a garlic and apple spread)
Yellow pea crepe with giant lima beans, red pepper relish
Carrot orange soup (the citrus accent was delightful)
Mixed grains (amaranth, wheat berries, millet) with spicy micro greens, pickled ramps, charred green garlic vinaigrette
Artichoke and goat cheese ravioli in broth with fiddleheads, oyster mushrooms
Cheese plate: Old Chatham Ewe's Blue, Mimolette aged 24 months, Jacquin St. Marie Ash, Italian Taleggio
Lemon rhubarb tart (with hand-whisked whipped cream), Barbadillo San Rafael Oloroso Dulce (a Sherry), and home-roasted coffee (a remarkably delicious, smooth coffee--and I never drink coffee).

The pacing and portions were perfect: enough to savor and satisfy without stuffing. The suggested donation of $50 "officially" included 2-3 glasses of wine (although no one was counting, and it was plenty). The conversation was scintillating; I made some new friends in the neighborhood; and I left around midnight in a state of total gastronomic satisfaction. The best part? I was home at 12:10.

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