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REPORT: Fundraising Dinner for the eGullet Society

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#1 paulraphael

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 06:32 PM

Underbelly, a supper club in a rustic, Civil War-era Brooklyn brewery that's been taken over by artists, will launch with a recession-friendly dinner to raise money for egullet.

We've been working hard these last few months sourcing ingredients from the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, and making special arrangements with our friends and local purveyors.

The menu will include:

assorted hors d'oeuvres

corn chowder with porcini cream

roasted rack of Jamison Farm lamb,
lamb coulis with lapsang souchong,
hen of the woods mushroom

celeriac and fennel purée

salicornia with lemon butter

home made bread with farm butter by Saxelby Cheese

chocolate marquise with ginger

banana tart with black sesame, brown butter cognac ice cream,
caramelized banana, salted butterscotch

a succession of four wines selected by our sommelier to make you very happy.

(details may change subject to ingredient availability and last minute tinkering)

To make a reservation, please send an email to dine@under-belly.org. There will only be fifteen seats so please reply soon. The dinner is being announced on egullet first, so society members will have the first opportunity.

The suggested donation is $70.
(The wine alone would cost more than this at a restaurant!)

More details will be posted soon on egullet and on our blog at the Underbelly site.



THIS EVENT HAS BEEN ORGANIZED THROUGH EG FORUMS BY MEMBERS BUT IS NOT SPONSORED BY THE EGULLET SOCIETY FOR CULINARY ARTS AND LETTERS OR EG FORUMS. YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY ARRANGED ON OR DISCUSSED IN EG FORUMS IS AT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RISK. BY USING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE FORUMS YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND (1) THAT IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY, YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO A VARIETY OF HAZARDS AND RISKS ARISING FROM THOSE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS; (2) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE SOCIETY, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES, FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY ON ACCOUNT OF, OR IN ANY WAY RESULTING FROM INJURIES AND DAMAGES IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY SUCH EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES. YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THESE TERMS WILL BE BINDING UPON YOU AND YOUR HEIRS, EXECUTORS, AGENTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND ASSIGNS, AS WELL AS ANY GUESTS AND MINORS ACCOMPANYING YOU AT THE EVENTS.

Edited by paulraphael, 10 March 2009 - 08:08 PM.


#2 docsconz

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 07:02 PM

This looks great! I wish that I could be there, but alas not.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#3 paulraphael

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 08:57 AM

We have eight seats remaining.

The sooner they fill up the sooner we can buy the wine!

#4 paulraphael

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 12:02 PM

We've put together the wine list for the evening:

with the hors d'oeuvres
Marquis de Perlade Crémant d'Alsace blanc de blanc

with the soup
Feuerbach Halbtrocken Riesling 2007

with the lamb
Chateau de Candale Haut Medoc 2003
Chateau du Moulin Rouge Haut Medoc 2003

#5 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:35 AM

Paul, it sounds fantastic. Can you tell us a bit about the pairings?
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#6 paulraphael

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 05:35 PM

We had a great dinner on Sunday. Everything came together more or less at the last minute, and the guests all had big smiles on their faces as they staggered out the door a bit after 11pm. The outlandish amounts of wine we budgeted for everyone surely helped.

Despite alll the steps I took to avoid chaos during service, we had our share. I underestimated the differences between a family-style dinner party for 15 people, and a multicourse, plated meal for the same number. One of my goals was to delegate the plating entirely, since my plating skills are about as refined as those of a typical ruminant animal with cloven hooves. But when I showed the crew how I wanted things done, they stepped back and said something like, 'dude, you'd better do it.' None of the plating was elaborate; I think the subtext was along the lines of 'we're not getting paid and we're taking no responsibility for what these plates look like.' So I did most of it, digging myself a bit into the weeds for the following courses, and hoping the generous pours of wine and moody lighting might compensate for any attrocities I commited with a squeeze bottle.

My apologies to the first few who were served, who had to look at plates that resembled first grade art projects.

Aside from some of the esthetics, and a soup course that I think was underseasoned thanks to my palate going numb from days in the kitchen, I was ecstatic about the food. We sourced our lamb from one of the most renowned farms in the country; it was succulent with bright, fresh, herbal flavors. The sauce, made over three days from lamb coulis and lapsang souchong tea, might be the best I've ever made. And the two desserts represent a culmination of experiments I've been working on for months; the versions served are the first that have made me happy.

I've posted some more commentary and a few pics of the meal at the Underbelly blog.

You can see the final menu here.

One of our guests has blogged about the meal at The Scout, and another guest, a baker and caterer from Barbados, has started a blog entry here.

I couldn't have pulled it off without help from our own Mitch Weinstein (weinoo) who took care of the hors d'ouevres and a million other things, and our butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter, who helped with service, lamb carving, and clowning for the guests.

The dinner was rewarding and also exhausting. The next one might be scaled back a bit, both in complexity and price. We might do a few collaborations with Jeffrey the butcher, like combining a hog butchering class with a pork tasting menu ... that kind of thing.

#7 paulraphael

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 05:46 PM

Paul, it sounds fantastic. Can you tell us a bit about the pairings?

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Sure!
The marquis de perlade is just a great dry sparkling wine. a fantastic value in a method champenoise starter. I like it more than any prosecco I've had.

The Riesling is a halbtrocken that has a fair amount of sugar, to hold up to the sweetness of the corn, but drinks like a dry wine. It emphasizes earthy notes over floral ones ... a nice match for the porcini mushrooms. And it has a great label: a beautiful nymphette hanging out with a lion.

The two Bordeaux are both from the same area and the same year. Both are big, complex reds with plenty of dark notes and tanins, to hold up to the lamb and the smokey sauce. The Chateau de Candale is the more basic of the two, described by our wine consultant as a crowd pleaser. We had eight bottles of that. The Chateau du Moulin Rouge is more complex, darker, and with more character. I had just three bottles of that, so everyone could have a taste of something different. The idea was to please any wine sophisticates in the room.

Both Bordeaux are on the young side and needed time for the flavors to develop; our consultant recommended uncorking the Candale an hour before serving and the Moulin Rouge two hours before. We served the reds at about 60 degrees F.

There were not a lot of big people in the room, but still our guests managed to pack away about a full bottle per person.

#8 weinoo

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 05:48 AM

There were not a lot of big people in the room, but still our guests managed to pack away about a full bottle per person.

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As did the helpers :rolleyes: .

Paul did a fantastic job on this dinner, especially since a first attempt is always the most difficult as you're learning about service, space limitations and oven intricacies.

From my apartment, it's about 20 minutes on the subway. An awesome space with an imposing iron gate at the entrance, it's like stepping back in time when you enter, and I'm looking forward to many more fine dinners and fine times at Underbelly.
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
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#9 Chris Hennes

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 07:03 AM

This sounds fascinating, I'm sorry I live so damned far away! What inspired/prompted this? Paul, this was your first time doing a full-blown plated dinner for so many?

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#10 paulraphael

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 08:11 AM

Well, my friends like to tell me something most egulleters probably hear all the time: "you should open a restaurant!" But I know a bit about the restaurant biz, enough to suspect this a horrible idea. So my tongue-in-cheek response has always been, "sure, I'll open a restaurant. But it's going to be open for one or two nights a month, it's going to seat no more than 10 or 15 people, most of them my friends, and I get to decide who comes, and I get to decide what everyone eats."

My intent was pure snark, but then last year an ex girlfriend got in touch with me to say she was researching a book. She was traveling all around the country checking out underground restaurants and supperclubs, which I'd never heard about. It meant people were doing the exact thing I was joking about. And their guests were loving it.

Out of curiousity I went to dinner with the author (at Whisk & Ladle in Brooklyn) and bought her book when it came out.

It all seemed like a great idea. Besides the enormous amounts of work involved (something I have a natural aversion to) it's a whole lot of fun.

Edited by paulraphael, 26 March 2009 - 09:53 AM.


#11 weinoo

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 08:23 AM

Funny, my friends all used to tell me the same thing about opening a restaurant. And then I even went to cooking school and worked in a restaurant, at which point I realized what douches most of my friends were.

Because, as you could tell on Sunday night, I have a natural aversion to work as well.
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
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Tasty Travails - My Blog
My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs
Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

#12 paulraphael

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 08:46 AM

Mitch tells me the next event needs two secret ingredients:
-a huge table for plating
-funds to pay the staff

#13 paulraphael

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 04:07 PM

We just put up some pics of the dinner here.

The ones in the top and bottom row are courtesy of Jothan Cashero.





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