Herbivoracious Dinner Party #1

Buckwheat blini with creme fraiche, asparagus caviar, and black salt

Last Sunday was my first “popup” dinner party – a chance to bring together a group of friends who love food, to give me a chance to test dishes and practice this kind of service. I plan to do more of them in the future for a wider audience.

The idea of this dinner was an asparagus tasting menu. Asparagus has been enjoyed since ancient times as a symbol of spring. There is even a recipe from Marcus Apicius, in the oldest known extant cookbook. One of his variations is for a sort of a asparagus fritatta which sounds pretty good.

You can see my menu below (click on it for higher resolution). Most of the dishes came out well. I was happiest with the panko-crusted egg, and the grapefruit/shiso sorbet, which I’ll blog about in more detail soon. Less successful was the risotto (overcooked, probably shouldn’t have tried to do it for 16 people at once), and the ice cream (forgot it wouldn’t be frozen at 32 degrees).

I loved the communal table aspect of this dinner. You could just sense the happy energy in the room, which looked beautiful in candlelight.

Keren at Savvy Savorer was there and blogged about it too. Thanks Keren!

If you are interested in being on the list for future events, drop me a line at herbivoracious [at] gmail.com.

The menu

The room looked beautiful

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Saturday, May 24th, 2008 in Miscellany.

12 Responses to “Herbivoracious Dinner Party #1”

  1. Reply
    Eric LeVine
    May 24, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Michael, it was a wonderful dinner. That sorbet really was perfect. My only issue with the blini/caviar is that I could have eaten about 20 of them without thinking about it… 😉

  2. Reply
    May 25, 2008 at 5:46 am #

    i’m intrigued with that asparagus caviar! i can’t stop looking at it…

  3. Reply
    May 25, 2008 at 6:10 am #

    What a terrific idea. The asparagus caviar is so interesting. I did a buckwheat blini with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill on my blog a while back. It was a big hit at our dinner party too 🙂

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    May 25, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    Thanks! I should have mentioned that I blogged about how to make the caviar itself previously. Here’s the link. As you can see, I improved the technique so they come out pretty transparent now. I use a Champion juicer to make the juice, skim off any foam, strain it through a succession of sieves and then double layers of cheesecloth. Then after mixing it with the alginate, I let it sit 24 hours in the fridge for the bubbles to work their way out, and skim again.

  5. Reply
    May 26, 2008 at 7:37 am #

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  6. Reply
    May 27, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    I think it’s not fair that some of us live on a totally opposite coast. This menu looks incredible – and what a neat idea. I am getting hungry just reading the menu! Great job!!

  7. Reply
    May 27, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    it was so great!!
    You are wonderful at what you do!

  8. Reply
    May 30, 2008 at 8:34 pm #

    I know you were disappointed in the risotto, but it was still yummy! I am craving it now, and was hoping you had posted a recipe, but alas, there’s nothing here. Any plans to write that one up, or cook it again anytime soon (hint hint)?

  9. Reply
    June 1, 2008 at 8:14 pm #

    Wow, this looks amazing! Put me on the list!

  10. Reply
    June 4, 2008 at 6:11 am #

    Michael, the asparagus caviar look like little emeralds! Thanks for the link, I think I saw it in a previous post of yours.

    The room looks beautiful too. How did you manage the menu – did you have to make things a few days before? Also, did you have help plating? Menu sounds wonderful, I’m sure your guests were wowed!

  11. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 4, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks Alpa! That’s correct, I did do the asparagus caviar previously. The ones in this picture are the culmination of several attempts to improve the flavor and clarity. As far as the menu goes, I made a prep list and figured out which things could be done in advance with no loss of quality, and which things had to be last minute. My friend Patrick from Cafe Flora came in as sous chef and did the final cooking and plating with me, in the back room. It was great fun!

  12. Reply
    March 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Michael – your blini with caviar are just gorgeous. That color! Amazing. Looks like it was a wonderful event.

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