3000 gnocchi, 440 people, 3 dinners, 2nd year anniversary, one boar
Valentine's weekend is over. It was a pretty epic trek for us at the Wild Kitchen. We fed 440 people (including volunteers of course) in two different locations. It was great, stressful and great. I wanted to do something special for our two-year anniversary (the first Wild Kitchen was on Valentine's day), so I lowered the menu price, added wine pairings and had two seatings. Two of those were new. Up until this point we'd always done one seating, and BYOB. I was most worried about the two seatings, but the drinks ended up being the hardest part. The worry about the second seating was a timing issue.
What if we didn't get all the food out fast enough? We left enough time so that people wouldn't feel rushed, but since we were working out of unfamiliar kitchens and feed 160 people over 6 hours (for the second and third dinner we actually had to build a kitchen out of fold out tables and portable burners). That didn't end up being an issue though. Jordan and the volunteers killed it, leaving me and Rachel to worry about why no one out front had drinks. It seems like a small thing, serving drinks, but when you have a room without table numbers, new bartenders and an event website that gives you an unclear numbers, it's a hassle. It worked out in the end though, and hopefully no one noticed the hiccups. Enough with the nuts and bolts, onto the food!
I was really excited about this menu. The dishes were my favorite kind. Simple with intense flavors that all complimented each other. A meal with an arc.
This dish has a special place in my heart, due to the fact that I caught the herring myself (look here for a post on that). It was a nice dish, we added a champagne mignonette, and the roe with the oysters were a great combo.
Second: Soup de poisson with wild nori aioli topped crostini
This is basically a fancy name for fish soup, but calling it fish soup doesn't do it justice. We slow cooked halibut, cod and lobster bones, added mirin, spice and more. It ended up being a really nice full-bodied soup with a great round flavor. The spicy nori aioli added a nice second level to the flavor. Simple. Delicious.
Third: Salad of Frisee, Lardons, Miners lettuce, and a Slow Poached Egg
This was a popular dish, not least because people could not figure out how we perfectly poached 100 eggs in 10 minutes. The trick is the slow poach. Its basically a sous vide egg, that is, something cooked slowly at an exact temp. The egg is cooked in its shell and when you open it, voila! It's poached. It's hard to do without a circulator, because you have to keep the temperature exact over 40 minutes, but it's amazing to crack open an egg and out it pops perfectly poached.
Boar is always a favorite and add handmade fresh herb crusted gnocchi to it, and it's a winner. This dish took a brigade of us/volunteers several days to make all the gnocchi, but it was worth it. The boar was caught down near Paso Robles by one Mr. Fred, who came and ate the meal on Valentine's day. Full circle.
These macarons were made by CD macarons, one of my vendors at the market. I'm not big on sweets, but these were really great, add intense blood orange sorbet and the delicate scent of fennel....
Overall people seemed really happy, with a great meal of handmade food and locally caught boar. That's all we can hope for. Here are some more pics below. If you're interested in coming to a future dinner, sign up here for our email list.
photos by Andria Lo