Sunday, June 25, 2006

DAY 34

We're just back from the Ghetto Gourmet. At first it was a tad awkward as the people who hosted the event invited a lot of their friends. So rather than a communal we're-all-strangers kind of thing it was a bit more like crashing somebody's dinner party. But nevertheless everybody was really nice.

So we sat on the ground in the back yard on a variety of cushions (as you can see in the photo).The food though was really quite good. I understand that the Silver Lake event had lack-luster food -- but not so here! The appetizer was a wild mushroom and leek tartlet. The crust was filo dough and there was a Gruyere or something under the mushroom and leak -- it was truly outstanding.

Next came a spring green salad with smoked trout, grilled peaches, cashews, and chevre in a creamy Muscat vinaigrette. The peaches were a bit mealy -- but still flavorful -- and, other than that, a really a tasty combination.

The entree was roasted squab with cherry-fennel chutney over herbed meyer lemon risotto with grilled artichoke. They only served half of a squab, and sqaub is a mighty small bird, but it was plenty tasty nonetheless. The cherry-fennel chutney was too strong. It was sort of raw tasting and crunchy which I thought was not the best choice. The meyer-lemon risotto was likewise not perfectly cook and a wee bit sour. Not inedible, mind you, just a tad undercooked and too much lemon. The grilled artichokes were baby artichokes and likewise undercooked. They split them down the middle and grilled them for too little time. Personally, I would have spread them open like a flower and flattened them before grilling them face down until tender.

The dessert was dark chocolate almond torte with chocolate-balsamic glaze and strawberries. The strawberries with the chocolate-balsamic glaze were amazing. And they would have been fan-effing-tastic over vanilla ice cream or just with whip cream. And the torte -- standing on its own -- was likewise outstanding. But the torte with the glaze was just too sharp somehow. Too intense. In fact, the chocolate of the torte rather eliminated the chocolate in the glaze so it was a bit like a chocolate torte with a vinegar glaze which is unpleasant. Still, the glaze was pooled under the torte so it was easy to slide the tarte to one side and eat it and then just dip the strawberry slices in the glaze and that worked out nicely.

On the whole -- I recommend the experience. They should limit the number of guests the host can personally invite. But our experience may have been unusual in this regard. It was really a fun dining experience and the food was quite good.

Oh, and by the way, they mentioned another dining experience in Santa Cruz called Outstanding in the Field which features farm-fresh cuisine and I am really excited to try that the next time we visit NorCal.

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