Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  

REPORT: Fundraising Dinner for the eGullet Society

Recommended Posts

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.


Edited by paulraphael (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

This looks great! I wish that I could be there, but alas not.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have eight seats remaining.

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

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Paul, it sounds fantastic. Can you tell us a bit about the pairings?


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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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 (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mitch tells me the next event needs two secret ingredients:

-a huge table for plating

-funds to pay the staff

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We just put up some pics of the dinner here.

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

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By gfron1
      I'm getting the topic kicked off although my time so far has been spent in the kitchen so I have experienced much of the weekend. Chris Hennes and Misstenacity showed up almost at the same time last night. I scurried them off to the tamale/tortilla workshop while I kept prepping for the tasting dinner tonight. I heard many pics were taken so I'll let them talk about the workshop. They'll be off for the Chile Fest in just a bit. Many, many more details to com.
    • By lesliec
      Content advisory: this is going to come across as an unalloyed rave, so let me say at the outset that I have no connection with Pen-y-bryn other than having stayed there.
      Now we have that out of the way - we visited Oamaru for the annual steampunk festival at the end of May this year.  Oamaru, a small (pop. 13,500) town in the South Island, 250-odd kilometres south of Christchurch, is home to one of the best-preserved Victorian precincts in the country.  The Victorian heritage has been embraced by the community, first with Victorian re-enactments and now with the steampunk.  Oamaru calls itself the steampunk capital of New Zealand and the annual Queen's Birthday weekend festival is quite an event.  I could go on at length about it, but this is not the place.
      Pen-y-bryn (Welsh for 'top of the hill' was built as a private residence in 1889 and is said to be the largest single-level residential building in New Zealand or Australia.  Here's the house:

      I met one of the owners, James Glucksman, through eGullet a couple of years ago, and this seemed a good opportunity to meet my first eG member in person.  James and his partner James Boussy (collectively: the Jameses) are of US origin and have travelled extensively.  The lodge is filled with period furniture, some of it made for the original owner, and decorated with items the Jameses have collected in their travels.  There's a full-sized billiard table (one of three originally made for the New Zealand Parliament; only two would fit so the remaining one came south to Oamaru), a fantastic original Florentine ceiling in the dining room and any number of comfortable places to sit with a book and a drink.  James G is the chef and morning guy (how does that work?); James B is the gardener and evening guy.
      Breakfasts are splendid affairs.  As well as (lodge-made) fruit compotes and wonderful jams, muesli and granola, there's always a freshly-made baked selection.  I can thoroughly recommend the croissants, although it's hardly fair to single them out, and I have now been introduced to the famous biscuits and gravy - not something often seen in this country:

      Rather good, I must say, and I'd certainly have them again.  I think James said we were the first guests he'd tried them out on.  Sausage gravy, for those of you who are wondering, with just the right level of cayenne.  After that, if you have room, you can have your choice of eggs with bacon, tomato and mushrooms.
      For the first few days of our stay we were deeply involved in festival affairs and weren't able to have much more than bed and breakfast at the lodge.  Not that that's anything to be sneezed at, and it was very pleasant to return exhausted in the evening and be met at the door by a James, then ushered into the drawing room for a nightcap - a cocktail, or perhaps a glass of James G's excellent nocino.
      On the final day, though, we thought we'd be having a free day and arranged to have two of our friends who had travelled with us from Wellington join us for afternoon tea, to be followed by a proper dinner.  As it turned out we got involved in a photo session in the morning followed by helping pack out of the hall much of the festival had been in, and ended up with only minutes to spare to dress accordingly (one must!) before we were due for tea.  But we made it:

      (Photo courtesy Pen-y-bryn)
      What a splendid group of people, don't you think?  That's Mrs Hudson (the younger) on the left, then Professor Carwardine, myself (Colonel Hawthorne) and Captain Smollett.  A very distinguished gathering indeed - you may note we had abandoned most of our steampunk accoutrements in favour of a more pure Victorian look (save for my cravat pin, but you can't see that).  Our host was no less splendid:

      OK, he didn't dress like that all the time - he cuts a decent figure in chefs' whites as well - but this is what eGullet members can look like when they put their minds to it.
      We'd neglected to warn James until the day before of the gluten-free needs of one of the party, but he came through magnificently.  Coronation Chicken and radish/poppy seed/cream cheese sandwiches, feijoa/orange tea cakes, English Royalty currant scones with clotted cream and more of James's jam, along with rosewater/pistachio meringues.  All except the tea cakes were gluten-free, and everything was delicious.  I haven't experienced much gluten-free food, but if it's all like this (I believe it isn't!) I think I could cope.  This was accompanied by our choice from an extensive tea list.  The Jameses have lived in China and their knowledge of teas is vast - they can even do a full tea ceremony at the lodge if you wish.
      A very nice touch at afternoon tea was a discreet printed menu so we knew what we were having.  This was also offered later at dinner, to which we now come.
      Having dressed appropriately (again - we're getting quite good at it), Mrs Hudson (the younger) and myself descended to the drawing room.  James G had unfortunately been forced to take to his bed after our afternoon tea (we wore him out?), but his young sous-chef Ashley and James B between them gave us a memorable evening.  We began with cocktails and canapés.  For the former we introduced James to the Tolkien.  He's not big on mixed drinks, but allowed that this one was acceptable.  Ashley presented this offering:

      Chorizo, mozzarella and cherry tomato with a balsamic reduction, and crostini with stracchino and saltwater pearls.  The chorizo and both cheeses were - again - made at Pen-y-bryn.
      After a suitable interval we repaired to the dining room:

      James offered a short but thoughtful wine list, and we went with this:

      When one is in Otago, one must drink Otago, don't you think?  It was a good choice; warm and fruity and a good match for what followed.
      First, cocoa-nib rubbed North Otago venison carpaccio, served with confit cherry tomatoes, sumac-sesame-pinenut soil and balsamic caviar:

      This was a beautiful dish in every way.  Although our first meeting on eG was in the chamber sealer topic, I hadn't been aware quite how modernist James's cooking was (he told me later he likes to include modernist elements, but may dial it back depending on his audience.  He didn't have to hold back with us).  Ashley was able to chat happily about maltodextrin and spherification - I flatter myself she enjoyed having people there who knew what she was talking about!  But as the eG modernist community knows, it's not all about appearance; the food has to taste good.  And this certainly did.  If you're wondering, the white thing is a coconut sphere.
      Then, after a lovely mixed fruit sorbet with triple sec, the main course.  Sous vide confit Canterbury duck leg with crumbed quenelle of pommes sarladais, sorrel gel, baby bok choy and haricots verts, and port wine sauce.  And look at the plate:

      This was another lovely dish.  The duck was just as tender as you'd hope, with just the lightest crisping of the skin.  The potato quenelle was possibly the best of its type I've had, and the dots of sorrel gel provided a nice bitter note.
      We had to finish eventually and it was in fine style, with passionfruit-lemon tart with crème Chantilly and vanilla-poached tamarillos (the photo was taken before the tamarillos went on):
          Again, delicious.  A shortcake-style base with delicious thick cream, complemented beautifully by the berry (I think) sauce and tamarillos.   After this it only remained to return to beside the fire in the drawing room to join some new friends we'd made on this trip.  A very lovely evening.   I can thoroughly recommend Pen-y-bryn for a luxury stay if you get to this part of the world.  I have only one criticism - it's completely ruined me for staying anywhere else.  Thanks, guys.  We'll be back.
    • By Kerry Beal
      And so it begins...
      I arrived in Las Vegas at 10:30 or so this morning, picked up my rental car and hastened over the the Tuscany Suites to meet up with Chocolot.  After a brief cruise through all the loot that she had accumulated for the workshop we headed out to do a few errands.  We checked in with Melissa and Jean Marie to check that all was well for later in the week and to enjoy a little look around the facility.  I also had to deliver several bottles of wonderful looking paté that Alleguede had made for Jean Marie (I kept one bottle here for snacking purposes this week).  There was serious drooling going on over all the equipment they have available for us to play with.
      What was to be a quick stop at Chef Rubber took a little longer than expected - there is a lot to look at there!  And to buy!
      We investigated a couple of thrift stores - notably the Habitat for Humanity Reuse to grab a couple of items that will show their usefulness later this week.
      And for dinner we hit Lotus of Siam.  We know that we are going back there this week - but it is a place I've wanted to check out since FG wrote about it a few years ago.  And you can never eat too much Thai can you?

      Jasmine tea for me.  

      Chicken larb.


      Khao soi - noodles with a red thai sauce.  And the condiments to go with them - some sort of pickled green (perhaps mustard), onion and of course lime.  

      Pepper garlic shrimp - didn't see a table without this one!

      And fried rice with veg and egg. 
      Right now Ruth is cruising the internet reviews to see what we should order when we return there on Thursday.  
    • By Bu Pun Su
      French food is my favorite cuisine and l’Arpege is my favorite restaurant. Currently, entering the 4th year that I haven’t returned to l’Arpege (Since ’06, I usually make an effort to go there at least once every 2 years). At the very least I had a chance to savor Alain Passard’s cuisine in late ’12 when he became a guest Chef at Beaufort hotel Sentosa – the most memorable part was when Alain personally cooked 2 Brittany lobsters for me. Fortunately, Singapore has a restaurant owned and run by Passard’s apprentice & his former sous chef, Gunther Hubrechsen. Therefore, whenever I crave for (home-style) French cooking that’s light, delicate and delicious, I often come here. Similar to my Les Amis’ experience, I’ve actually been here about 4 times since 2008 but never wrote a (serious) review even once. As a matter of fact, Gunther’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore
      I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance,
      Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef
      Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef
      Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes):
      1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency...
      5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella)
      6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple
      What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had,
      4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes
      7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J
      8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious
      There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine.
      It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality.
      I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
    • By Kerry Beal
      Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility!

      Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins.

      Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins.

      Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn.

      The fancy packing machine.

      Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.