I wasn’t shopping for another cookbook. I was actually at Anthropologie shopping for some kind of platform or stools on which to display some my overflowing unruly cookbook collection. But there on the shelf along with some darling Morrocan tea glasses and heavenly spiced candles was PLENTY, Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. On the cover, a bejeweled eggplant dish…I was smitten.
indian eggplant, lemon confit, garlic, thai basil, olive oil, red pepper flakes
with toasted ciabatta
What to cook first in my new baby tagine? I had been dreaming of a baby tagine ever since our most memorable meal on the 40th Floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange at Everest. Chef Joho serves a vegetable mélange side dish in the most charming vessel.
Inspired this past weekend, by the recent gift of a new Calabrese cookbook, my friends and I prepared an authentic Southern Italian feast. The setting was beautifully simple, complete with herbs, flowers and citrus fruits from our gardens. For the menu, we adapted seven recipes from My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher, with outstanding results.
We enjoyed exploring this lesser known regional cuisine, learning about the remote and somewhat mysterious Calabria as we constructed our menu. Dusty and hot mountainous regions, steep slopes, and narrow coastlines all contribute to the uniqueness that is La Cucina Calabrese.
We served esoteric Italian wines with the meal, wines that paired well with the simple yet robust Calabrese cuisine. Unfortunately we had difficulty locating wine specifically from Calabria, but we certainly were not disappointed with the fabulous bottles that graced our table. And we enjoyed Gino’s locally famous homemade limoncello to cap off the affair.
Unlike most of our dinner parties, the dishes were served family style. There was plenty of conviviality and great food & drink, as we experienced Southern Italy via Southern California.
white asparagus wrapped in japanese eggplant
with a chiffonade of shiso
served over mizuna
spicy lemon miso dressing
blistered shishito peppers and grape tomatoes
Natasha, the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! host the 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group, a fabulous monthly event for “sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations.”
The 5 Star Makeover theme for April is a special seasonal ingredient, White Asparagus.
“For a brief two weeks at the end of April, the prized white asparagus is in season. In Germany, this mini-season is celebrated with a mania not to be missed, and every restaurant in on the tradition offers a special menu, called a Spargel Karte. These menus include anywhere from three to thirteen courses, all featuring the tender, sweet, white asparagus. Typical classic dishes include a white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce or a white asparagus soup. We invite you to think outside the box to create a unique gourmet dish featuring white asparagus.”
“Mediterranean on the Pacific”
Sunken City Supper Club
The Sunken City Supper Club is a fresh, local and secret place to seasonally mingle with friends and neighbors – to enjoy the camaraderie, great food, wine, and the awesome intimate jazz standards performed by local musicians Barry Anthony and Bill Ryan. We hold one event per season, and the menu always reflects seasonal ingredients. Our Sunken City Supper Club events feature a five course fixed menu plus our signature amuse bouche and unique sherry courses.
Supper Clubbers Sally & Al, with a great view!
The 24 guests are emailed the menu in advance so they can bring wines to complement the dinner. The Sunken City Supper Club is a “moveable feast” – the location varies. The Summer Soirée was held at the beautiful home of our friends Gina & Van overlooking the ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The summer menu features many seasonal summertime ingredients typically served along the Mediterranean Sea. The table setting, decor, and colors enhanced the Mediterranean theme.
We are especially proud of this recent dinner, as we have now completed a full year’s cycle of seasonal events:
- The Best of Fall October Dinner
- The Winter White Dinner: Totally Chic
- The Lusty Month of May Springtime Jazz Feast
- Mediterranean on the Pacific Summer Soirée
Over the year we have learned how to run a “restaurant” out of a home kitchen, held many experimental test kitchen dinners, honed our timing skills, gained a new appreciation for that second refrigerator, made new foodie friends, and had a blast! We look forward to another year of Sunken City Supper Club seasonal events!
To finish, we topped the tomatoes with chopped parsely and minced garlic. I read about this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine, it was adapted from Cafe Lago in Seattle.