Reminder: You, yes you!, have one more day to enter the Liz Lovely Contest. Good luck. Now, on with the show...
Last Saturday night, the husband and I had one of the best dining experiences we've ever had, and we weren't even in a restaurant! We were served a gourmet vegan meal in the company of lovely strangers and enjoyed an amazing concert all in the same locale, and while I can't tell you exactly where we were, I can tell you that the Underground Restaurant Concert Series is not to be missed! Hosted by chef Philip Gelb and his company, In the Mood for Food, these unique events take place about once a month. I have wanted to attend one of Phil's cooking classes or dinners, so when I realized I was free for one of the latter that happens to also come with entertainment, I was thrilled. Not only is Phil a magician in the kitchen, he is also a world-class musician and brings in some of the best instrumentalists around to play in between the entree and dessert courses. It just doesn't get much better than this, my friends.
Having heard and read great things, I had very high expectations, but Phil's food was above and beyond. The feeling of community among the diners grew over the course of the evening as we all shared in the culinary and musical delights offered up. Speaking of which, the table was first adorned by a series of pickles - radishes, cucumbers, and carrots - all of which were perfectly salty and went well with the cold jasmine tea being poured.Did I mention it was about a billion degrees that night? Kudos to Phil for suiting the menu to the temperature that day. This cooling trend continued in our crazy good first course: Cold homemade noodles with a sesame sauce that had exactly the right amount of spice. These were some of the best noodles I've ever eaten, and I could have continued to do so all night and been happy.Yes, I was sad when the noodles were all gone, but it was worth finishing in order to get to course number 2, a salad of greens, grilled peaches, and parsnip chips with a peach miso dressing. Yes, it was as flavorful and fresh as it sounds. Amazing.
At this point, the night had cooled bit, and we were all ready for something a bit warmer. Out came the entree: Fresh-made tofu steaks fried with mushrooms, burdock, lotus, and rice.
Perfectly seasoned and cooked, this was truly an illustration of how great food can be when you use a few simple ingredients and really showcase them. I was in heaven.... and very full. Luckily it was time for a break, and the concert! Solo flutist Jane Rigler took the stage and blew our minds with her thoughtful and gorgeous improvisations. She even convinced the chef to step out of the kitchen for a duet or two. Such a treat:
For another treat, dessert was green tea cake and peach ice "cream" with fresh strawberry sauce. This was absolutely to perfect way to end this meal, and the hot day. It was refreshing, light, and sweet without laying it on too thick. Yummmmmm....
Bay Area folks, I highly suggest you and your others enjoy one of Philip Gelb's events sometime soon, or hire him to cater your next event. We've already reserved our spots for the August 9th event - Oud and Violin players with a Turkish/Arabic/Japanese fusion menu??? Yes, please!