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worm@work

Cache Dinner Club

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Last night, my husband & me had the pleasure of dining at Cache, a private dinner club started by Ling & Hhlodesign from this very forum. An underground restaurant of sorts, every Sunday they host a communal table of 12 diners to a dinner revolving around a theme. Last night's dinner was aptly titled, "Yes, we're trying to kill you" as you'll see from the pictures/description below.

We arrived a little early and had a chance to grab some pictures of Lorna in the kitchen and of the dining space before the rest of the guests arrived.

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We started with the signature Cache cocktail - a heady mix of fresh grapefruit juice, Vodka, Cointreau and bitters and nibbled on puff pastry topped with onions, parmigiano reggiano and chorizo (the picture was taken before it went into the oven. Once it came out, there was really no time to take a picture).

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The first course (and my favorite dish from the night) was bacon wrapped bacon - yes, you read that right. A big chunk of tender braised pork belly wrapped with bacon and baked. The crispy, salty bacon provided a great contrast to the soft, sweet pork belly and the dish had every flavor I could ever want in a dish.

The bacon before it went into the oven:

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The final dish:

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The next course was a foie gras custard served with truffled wild mushrooms on crostini.

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While everyone else seemed to love the foie gras custard (with one guest making plans to build a swimming pool and fill it with the custard!), I was somehow least excited by this dish. I love foie as much for its texture as its flavor and I missed the texture I get when the foie is simply pan-seared instead. The truffled mushrooms on the other hand were delectable and were a really good accompaniment to the custard.

Just when I thought I couldn't possibly eat any more animal fat, the duck confit pot pie arrived. The confit was housemade and had a complex musky flavor that was stronger than any duck confit I've had before. Topped with a perfectly flaky crust, this is the fanciest pot pie I've ever had!

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For dessert, we had creampuffs filled with homemade mint ice-cream and served with chocolate sauce.

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While I was wondering about the extra belly I seemed to have grown during the course of the meal, more temptation arrived in the form of hot-off-the-oven chocolate chip cookies!

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As anyone can see from the pictures, the food was wonderful and at least as good as most professional restaurants we've eaten at in Seattle. Henry & Lorna are great hosts and have managed to create an atmosphere that is professional and yet comfortable and inviting. What we enjoyed the most however was the company of the other guests. People brought some really interesting and even some hard-to-find wine to share and the conversation flowed easily as if we'd known each other for ages. There were some really experienced restaurant folks as well as just everyday food-lovers like us at the table and everyone seemed to get along just great. All in all, it was a really fun night and we really hope that Cache is able to retain both the quality of the food and the charm for a long time to come.

Shalmanese (if you're reading this thread), it was really fun meeting you last night and we hope to hang out with you again soon.

-w@w

p.s. In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that we met Henry & Lorna a few months ago and have had the pleasure of dining with them on multiple occassions in the past. That being said, I received the same treatment as everyone else at the table and have tried my best to provide an unbiased review of the food.

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Our first write-up! :smile: I had such a great time cooking last night, and we're glad everyone else seemed to have a blast at the communal table as well.

The next course was a foie gras custard served with truffled wild mushrooms on crostini.

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While everyone else seemed to love the foie gras custard (with one guest making plans to build a swimming pool and fill it with the custard!), I was somehow least excited by this dish. I love foie as much for its texture as its flavor and I missed the texture I get when the foie is simply pan-seared instead. The truffled mushrooms on the other hand were delectable and were a really good accompaniment to the custard.

Personally, I feel the same way about the foie gras custard. I think it's delicious, but I like foie gras torchon the best! However, the custard was hugely popular with diners (and I think the veal/sherry gastrique on top really added another dimension!) :smile:

The best thing about cooking for these dinners is leftovers. Foie gras custard and bacon-wrapped bacon for breakfast, followed by cream puffs, Valrhona/Scharffen Berger/Michel Cluizel chocolate sauce and fresh mint ice-cream is a nice way to start the day!

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Ling and Henry, can you say a bit about how you prepared that confit pot pie? I'm intrigued!

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^First I deboned four ducks, and took the skin off to render for the fat. I also rendered about 1.5 lbs. of pig fat back to add to the rendered duck fat, as I wouldn't have had enough to cover the entire mass of legs and wings. The confit was done loosely following Paula Wolfert's directions in The Cooking of Southwest France. It was aged for a week.

The duck carcasses were frozen until the day I was ready to make the gravy. I browned the bones and made stock with your usual vegetables and herbs (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, carrots, onions, celery). It simmered for about 5 hours. The stock was then strained and reduced. I peeled and diced parsnips, carrots, and onions and browned them in the oven with duck fat and seasonings. Then I plucked the duck confit meat off the bones, diced it, and added it to the roasted root vegetables, along with peas, corn, browned bacon, and herbs/spices. In another pan, I made a roux, then added the reduced duck stock and sherry. The gravy was then added to the meat and vegetables, and then I corrected the seasoning. (I also added a bit of leftover veal demi that I used for the veal gastrique on the foie gras custard.)

The pastry was made with 25% Cremerie Classique butter, and 75% leaf lard following usual pie crust proportions (with the added bit of lift from a pinch of baking powder.)

Before serving, heat the duck confit filling, then fill the ramekins and top with a rolled out piece of pastry brushed with heavy cream. Bake for about 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven (or until the pastry is crisp).

Sorry, no real recipe available since I didn't use one. :smile:

ETA: Just remembered I also used some celery seed, ground fennel, and red pepper flakes in the filling.


Edited by Ling (log)

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Ling, where do you buy Cremerie Classique? I've been wanting to try it ever since I found out James Miller uses it at Besalu. Also, the pot pie does sound awesome.

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Ling, where do you buy Cremerie Classique? I've been wanting to try it ever since I found out James Miller uses it at Besalu. Also, the pot pie does sound awesome.

Not Ling, but I think she buys it at Nancy's in the PPM. (That is, the Pike Place Market Creamery)

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Yes, that's right--it's at The Creamery. I discovered the butter at a lunch spot on Orcas Island. It really is great butter!

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Good stuff. Keep it up. Fight the system.

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I adore the idea of Dinner Clubs, and I think they may be an important feature of adventuresome dining in the Oughts. I know you both cook, and love to entertain, but what was it that made you to take the plunge into the icy waterbath of a dining club?

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I'm able to buy the best ingredients I can find, cook what I want, experiment with new recipes, and meet fabulous people who love food as much as I do. What's not to like? :smile:

The truth is, we spend a huge amount of the donation money on ingredients (at least twice as much as a typical restaurant's 30%) because we 'save' on overhead and real servers. (Our servers are always friends who volunteer for a free meal/drinks.) That translates into what we hope are higher-quality meals that are competently cooked. I don't really have a fixed schedule to work on, so I can take as much time as I need to get things done the way I want them to be done. If I want to age confit for a week, or even three weeks, it's fine as long as we have space in the fridge. Our menus change each night and guests sign up for the one that appeals to them, so I'm never stuck making the same dishes (unless a private party books and wants a certain previously sold-out menu.) We also have access to restaurant equipment (like Pacojets, juicers) through the generosity of chef friends if we need. The feedback has been awesome. One diner on Sunday that the "Kill You" menu was the best meal he's eaten in the past year. I live for that stuff, as I am sure most real chefs do! The only downside is the hours of clean-up we have to do after each event! :wink:


Edited by Ling (log)

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Congratulations to you both! What an awesome idea.

That first meal definitely looks like a killer, in every sense of the word. :wub:

Keep us posted on your exploits. This is going to be fun!

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Fantastic, Lorna & Henry! Everything looks beautiful and delicious.

Now why didn't you have this going on when I was visiting Seattle in September? :wink:

What does the name Caché mean?

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I think it is absolutely wonderful that Lorna and Henry have found the perfect outlet for their culinary talents. It certainly eliminates the stresses of restaurant ownership and allows complete creativity in what they choose to make.

I for one will be following this thread with fascination, and occasionally wiping the drool off my screen.

Lorna, will you comment on the kitchen you are working in, just that one picture looks fabulous? Is is Henry's design? I'd love to see more pictures if possible.

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Fantastic, Lorna & Henry! Everything looks beautiful and delicious.

Now why didn't you have this going on when I was visiting Seattle in September?  :wink: 

Timing, Chufi, life is all about the timing. We plan to be in Seattle this August. :smile:

Great work, Henry and Lorna. Bravo.

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What does the name Caché mean?

It's a play on a few definitions.

Cache - a temporary area to store resources

Caché - French for "hidden"

Cachet - "prestige"

But really, we wanted it to be up for interpretation. Our friends and guests have assumed any of the three meanings.

Lorna, will you comment on the kitchen you are working in, just that one picture looks fabulous?  Is is Henry's design?  I'd love to see more pictures if possible.

This is the kitchen in my studio. More pictures from my blog here:

On Food and Architecture

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I didn't have any time between cooking and plating to take any pictures of our past events, but here's the cocktail snack I made for the "Eat Your Veggies" dinner.

gougeres

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Southern night at Cache, more fried chicken, greens, and biscuits than you can shake a stick at.

Out gracious hosts

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Cache Mint Julep - Whoooooeeee, that's got some kick!

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For later - by the way see that red velvet cake? It's like buttah!

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Baked beans

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Fried Chicken - well flavoured and wonderfully moist

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Red Velvet Cake - it's like love on a plate

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Pecan Pie

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Ginger cookies - the Girl Scouts have nothing on this cookie

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I'm so bummed I didn't get a picture of the greens. They were some of the best greens I've ever had. Plenty of ham hock, and just a really surprising and sublime silky texture. How the hell do you get silky greens?! A wonderful night and a lot of fun. Thanks a lot guys!

Rocky


Edited by rockdoggydog (log)

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How the hell do you get silky greens?!

Fat....lots and lots of fat! :biggrin:

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^Stop revealing my secrets! :biggrin: (Well, the secret is fat and a really long cooking time.)

The aforementioned greens...

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Edited by Ling (log)

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Thanks for the pic. I'll be by for lunch around 12:30.... :wink:

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Thanks for the pic.  I'll be by for lunch around 12:30....  :wink:

I think we ate all the greens. There might be a couple of biscuits left, though I can imagine they went well for Sunday breakfast.

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The greens were my favourite as well. I should've made more for Saturday's dinner. When we do Southern Night II, they'll be on the menu again.

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Mmm... Looks great and I have to admit I've been feeling mildly guilty about not piping up till now. I was at the "we're trying to kill you dinner" and it was lovely meeting worm@work and all the other guests there. The space Lorna and Henry have set up is really something special. Warm and inviting from the moment you step in the door, I especially the little water fountain going outside their window.

work@work was right about one thing, once the chorizo came out, everyone just dived in. Rich and flavourful, it was a wonderful start to the evening.

Bacon wrapped Bacon was clearly the most anticipated dish of the evening and it totally didn't disappoint. I was surprised by how slowly some of the diners were eating theirs, to "savor" it apparently, I don't have that degree of self control. The pork belly was so perfectly tender it just melted away in a river of pig fat, yum.

Next was the foie gras custard and I have to step up and admit here that I was the guest who has designs for a foie gras custard swimming pool (with a veal gastrique fountain) for my next mansion. I agree with worm@work that nothing can compare to the gooey texture of simply seared foie gras but I don't think the two can be directly compared. The gastrique was a lovely counterpoint and added the balance necessary to keep this dish from becoming cloying.

Duck confit pot pie was just pure comfort food. The confit itself was silky and the gravy was warm and rich. My favourite part of this dish were the tiny chunks of parsnip which added a nice sweet surprise. The crust, made with lard is again, a testament to what can be achieved with a little (ok, a lot) of animal fat.

Finally, was the Valrohna cream puffs. I have to admit that at this point in the evening, I was slightly soused on the excellent wine so I don't remember too much about this course but the clear highlight for me was the wine served, a Saracco Moscato d'Asti. It tasted like liquid pear candy going down. The mint ice-cream in the cream puffs was sublime. If I had to make one minor quibble with the whole evening, it was that the chocolate sauce served with the cream puffs was just a tad too much and a tad too intense. I've never been one to enjoy overloading on chocolate and I tend to admire restraint more than excess when it comes to chocolate.

Overall, the night was definitely a smashing success, every one of the dishes was a hit, from conception to execution to service. The atmosphere is like no other restaurant you've been to, fun, convivial and unpretentiously casual. And at these prices, Lorna and Henry are practically giving their food away. Book now so in 10 years time, you can tell people you ate at Lorna's before it became famous.

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Bacon wrapped Bacon was clearly the most anticipated dish of the evening and it totally didn't disappoint. I was surprised by how slowly some of the diners were eating theirs, to "savor" it apparently, I don't have that degree of self control. The pork belly was so perfectly tender it just melted away in a river of pig fat, yum.

You know, I really wanted to serve two big pieces of bacon wrapped bacon instead of one, but Mr. Lo thought that it would be way too much food. I just put up another encore event with the same "Kill You" dishes and I think I'm going to give people the option of getting another piece if they so wish...though they better have room for everything else to come!

The chocolate sauce may have been intense, but I think your plate was licked the cleanest... :wink: Thanks for the glowing review--your check is in the mail. :raz:

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Whew. I didn't know that Lorna and Henry could do a down-home dinner rather than the usual crazy over -the top- gourmandise thay always display. I feel much less intimidated now.

That's one lovely red velvet cake. How much red food coloring? Frosted with????

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