The lovely Bianca Garcia of the Confessions of a Chocaholic blog played hostess for our first Italian Mystery Meet at Pizzeria Posto in Somerville. Check out some of the fabulous photos…
Hi! My name is Mike Christensen, and I’m a software engineer in Redmond, WA. In my spare time, I run a website called KitchenPC.com that allows people to find recipes, organize recipes into menus, and figure out what they can make from the ingredients they have on hand.
I’m also a foodie, which is why I decided to host this month’s Mystery Meet in Seattle. We went to Restaurant Zoë, which has been one of my favorite local restaurants since I discovered them through Dine Around Seattle.
Smoked char with creme fresh and chilled pea soup: We started off with smoked char with crème fresh and chilled pea soup, which was absolutely amazing. I usually don’t like chilled soups, but this worked very well and the slight hint of creme added a lot to the flavor.
Salmon served with baby summer squash and red pepper purée: The main course was salmon, served with baby summer squash and a red pepper purée. Also delightful. I found the salmon perfectly cooked, which I’m a bit picky on. Plus or minus thirty seconds can sometimes make or break a salmon dish, in my opinion.
Dessert – Creme caramel with chocolate: Dessert was a crème caramel with chocolate, which was the perfect finale to this amazing dinner.
Everyone seemed to get along quite well. There was much talk about food, travel, and life in general.
As always, the wait staff provided excellent service and explained each dish in detail. This is, of course, a requirement when you dine with a bunch of foodies. Alternate entrées were also provided for those at the table who couldn’t eat seafood, wheat or dairy. If you live in Seattle (or find yourself in the Seattle area), I’d definitely recommend checking out Restaurant Zoë. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time, just as I did!
I’m Michelle Collins, and I’m a freelance food writer and blogger based just outside of Boston. I blog over at www.TheEconomicalEater.com.
As intrepid guests found out 24 hours before the first St. Louis dinner, the restaurant of choice was The Block’s new location in the Central West End. I’m a big Block -WG fan, so the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the newest addition to their restaurant family was a tremendous treat. My fellow guests were delightful company and Marc del Pietro out-did himself with the courses he and his crew presented. Although, note, the below menu isn’t really a reflection of the Block CWE’s current dinner menu–it was more a treat that we as Mystery Meet diners got to have. All of it was scrumptious. And if you’re an urbanite, city-dweller who can’t bear to make the trek to Webster Groves, get thee to The Block in the Central West End.
All said and done, it was a lovely evening. Good food. Good conversation. New friends. We damn near closed the place down. If you have the chance to attend a Mystery Meet dinner, I highly recommend. Keep your eyes peeled.
I’m Christine Willmsen, a writer who is all about sharing my passion of food – from a single person’s perspective. I picked Poppy restaurant for a variety of reasons. First, I had yet to try the restaurant and it has been on my hit list for months. I also wanted to see what Poppy’s Executive Chef Jerry Traunfeld was up to in the kitchen since leaving The Herbfarm.
Appetizer: Appetizers included eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, spiced fig and onion tart with blue cheese and sage and spice crispies.
Main entree : Black cod with carrot sauce and cucumber shiso salad served with nettle and mushroom soup, grilled radicchio, leek and lentil salad, delicata squash and black-eyed peas with berbere, cauliflower with toasted garlic, horseradish and currants, fennel, orange and wild ginger pickle and nigella-poppy naan. Other entrees included lavender-rubbed duck leg with rhubarb, angelica and pea sprouts and celery root ravioli with maitake mushrooms and truffle butter. Everyone enjoyed their selections. I found the black cod silky and perfectly prepared.
Dessert: Japanese cheesecake with passion fruit sabayon and matcha crumble as well as ginger cake with vanilla ice cream, blood orange and candied olives and chocolate truffle torte with caramel, soba-cha crumbs and lime frozen yogurt were the top orders of the night.
The Wild about Saffron drink combined vodka, brandy, rose water, saffron, lemon and angostura. I found it refreshing and herbaceous. Others ordered wine by the glass and the bourbon sour.
Guests included friends of The Solo Cook, return Mystery Meet guests, home cooks and foodies. After introducing everyone to each other, people engaged in conversation throughout the night about food, cooking, health and local politics.
Poppy restaurant was a mind-blowing experience and an explosion of flavors in my mouth. The Thali-style Indian dinner was great for this eclectic group of people. The main entrée included six other smaller bites of about two ounces each of food. So I suggest you come to the restaurant hungry and thirsty. Everyone in the group loved the courses and while some were meeting for the first time, these foodies had no problem sharing small bites so everyone could experience the dishes. Thanks to Chef Jerry Traunfeld for an amazing, tantilizing dinner and the staff for being so attentive.
My blog, The Solo Cook, explains more about our food – where it comes from, how to prepare it and how to enjoy it. It’s an exploration of food for solo eaters with stories, helpful tips and suggestions on cooking, entertaining and gardening. As an award-winning journalist for more than 20 years, I hope to inspire everyone to take more adventures with food, especially those who are single.
As a new transplant to the San Francisco area with a few very picky, very foodie local friends, I was informed that Bar Crudo was one of those venues that deserved its place on the area’s essential dining experiences. That’s nothing to take lightly, considering the wealth of amazing restaurants here. I may be a writer covering consumer technology, but when it comes to geeking out, food could give my gadget obsession a run for its money. And frankly, I’m just a sucker for crudo, so I was immediately intrigued. But of course my journo training kicked in, and I just had to do a little digging before I could heartily recommend this venue. The reviews didn’t disappoint: Zagat called it “sublime,” Michelin guide described it as “super-fresh seafood artfully prepared,” and plenty of other reviewers — both professional and amateur — had gushed about this place. Well, after dining here, I and my fellow Mystery Meet cohorts can attest that they were right: There was absolutely nothing crude about our three-course meal at Bar Crudo.
Crudo Sampler: The morsels of raw Arctic Char, Butterfish, Mahi Mahi and Scallop on a bed of root vegetable purée were pristine. The expert knifework and keen understanding of flavors and textures were obvious to me in this dish. But I wondered if I was idealizing this plate because I had selected this restaurant. And so I I looked to my newfound friend in front of me, who hailed from Alaska, and asked what he thought. The man knew seafood inside and out, and I felt validated when he gave me a big smile and an equally big thumbs-up. I settled in, unable to wait for the second course.
Lobster Beet Salad: The golden and chioga beets with lobster came topped with pistachios, arugula and burrata, dressed with the perfect amount of banyuls vinaigrette. The petite plate belied how satisfying this dish was. Lobster is inherently rich and delectable, and it was well-complemented by the clean flavors of the beets. The pistachios offered a decent amount of crunch, and the creamy burrata gave it another dimension with a bit of chewiness, all against a subtly peppery background of wilted arugula. Hands down, our crew named this dish the favorite of the night.
Red Idaho Trout: If the meal had ended with the first two courses, our group would’ve been perfectly happy. But oh no, there was course three to consider. When the Red Idaho Trout arrived, it was much like the other dishes — gorgeous, but succinct. And yet, once again, we were surprised by how incredibly satisfying this dish was. The trout was prepared with sunchokes, escarole, roasted baby fennel, beurre rouge and lemon oil. Before diving in, I looked around and noticed that our fun-loving, social group was absolutely silent, utterly engaged in the plate in front of them. I can hardly blame them. We were all full at this point, and yet none of us could help but dive into this plate.
The restaurant only served beer and wine, but the options seemed apropos to the menu selections, with interesting craft beers and well-curated wine selections.
The group formed an intimate crew spanning mobile app developers to physicians and philanthropists. The conversations were alight that night, and yet, despite our varying backgrounds, we immediately felt a camaraderie. We were there for the same reason — to share good conversation and a fabulous dining experience. And judging by our reluctance to part ways, it seems we accomplished our goal.
The only thing that matched the amazing food at Bar Crudo was the company. That’s the point of a Mystery Meet — to share an incredible experience with like-minded people. And so I am incredibly grateful for getting to share this event with such a terrific group. We chatted over everything from how slammed our bartender was to the finer points of beer craft, as well as what it was like to grow up in the outer reaches of Alaska. The conversation was as stimulating as the meal, and considering how expertly crafted our meal was, there is no finer compliment. Incredible dishes can be savored alone, but when community’s involved, it can elevate the meal. And that’s exactly what happened during this outing.
It seemed quite appropriate that this Mystery Meet, on the 12th of March, took place at The Lansdowne Pub in Boston’s Fenway district. Just a week shy of St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to get the green engines turning than by raising a few glasses of whisky with some jovial folks at one of Boston’s best Irish pubs. And, despite the cold, rainy weather outside, Fenway Park’s monster shadow on the restaurant was a nice reminder that Spring Training was just around the corner and soon this quiet Lansdowne Street would be alive with sunshine and tens of thousands of Red Sox fans.
But baseball and leprechauns aside, the conversation at hand is about food and whisky, and to me that’s much more exciting.
Whisky: Our dinner started off with a sampling of four whiskies which most people took part in, and sipped on throughout the course of the meal. The lineup started with two Highland Single Malts, Glenlivet 12 and Dalmore 12. Of course the former is a Scotch standard that can be found nearly everywhere Scotch is sold. It’s mellow and light, perhaps not all that exciting, but an easy dram to welcome in the night. The latter, Dalmore 12, brings a little more of an interesting character to the table, but still a light Highland Malt that most can enjoy (and most did enjoy), and not surprisingly a nice sipper for the first dinner course.
Crispy Crab Cakes, Arugula and Mustard Aioli: The menu in front of the diners presented three courses in total, each with a selection of options. For the appetizer, I selected the Crispy Crab Cakes with Arugula and Mustard Aioli. Some of my fellow diners selected the Onion & Ale soup or the Sticky Whiskey BBQ Chicken Wings. Everyone seemed to enjoy the bold flavors and generous portions, and of course, the whisky accompaniment certainly didn’t hurt the overall enjoyment factor.
Mustard Glazed Salmon, Boxty Potato Cakes and Green Beans: With the second course, most of the whisky drinkers had moved onto their third glass, Talisker 10. It’s a common misconception that Talisker is from the Islay region in Scotland, but in actuality it’s from the island of Talisker, and therefor, considered an Island whisky. I’m a big fan of Talisker, especially their 18 year expression, and in this context the briny peat smoke character of the Talisker 10 went especially well with my Mustard Glazed Salmon with Boxty Potato Cakes and Green Beans.
Peaty whiskies don’t always go well with food, but at least for me, I found the Talisker to be a nice compliment to all of the flavorful Irish-inspired dishes on the table. My neighbors ordered a mix of food including the very traditional Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, Flat Iron Pepper Crust Pork and Fish & Chips. The portions were large, but everyone did their absolute best to make the Irish proud. All around, the second course of food and the third glass of whisky was well received.
Apple Crisp: The final whiskey of the evening was Makers Mark. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Makers – there are plenty of other bourbons in that price range that I’d prefer (say, Weller 107 if you want to stick with wheated bourbons). But, nevertheless, as a compliment to the final dessert course, I’d say the sweetness went along rather well with the massive (and massively delicious) apple crisp with scoop of vanilla ice cream that I ordered. Of course, it would have gone equally as well with the Bread Puddings that also surrounded me.
The diners started dropping off one by one after the decadent dessert and bourbon that concluded the meal. But, I can’t really blame them – it was after all a Tuesday evening – and if they stayed longer they probably would have wound up matching me glass for glass as we started to dip into the plentiful selection of other whiskies that The Lansdowne offered. There were a number of folks, however, that stayed and enjoyed a last beer or whisky with me – I ordered a Jura Superstition, while others kept on track with their Irish beers and ciders.
All in, it was a great evening. It was my first Mystery Meet, and the first for many others at the table as well. We had some newcomers to Boston, and others just out looking to meet new people, try new food, and drink some whisky. A big thanks goes out to all who came, drank and enjoyed, as well as a hearty Irish thanks to the great folks at The Lansdowne Pub who served us up some great food, and let us take over their private dining room. Until next time, cheers… and drink your whisky!
For more whisky articles and reviews, check out my blog: drinkinsider.com
Our group arrived on time and was in a festive mood. We hailed from San Francisco, Rhode Island, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, and New Hampshire. It was quite a unique set of foodies all coming together to indulge in good food and conversation.
Tuna Conserva with Calabrian Chiles, Cannellini Beans, and Upland Cress: This dish really reminded me of a modified Niçoise salad. It had a mix of small chiles and Cannellini beans topped with tuna and anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. It was served on a plate, in a bed of lettuce. The tuna was albacore with white flesh and cooked lightly. The salad was adorned with hard-boiled eggs and olives. There was a hint of lemon and arugula with some tomatoes. Overall the dish was quite nice and light.
Chicken Polpette with Tomato, Basil and Parmigiano Reggiano: This dish was a perfectly cooked bowl of chicken meatballs in marinara sauce. I was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of the meatballs! The marina sauce was hot and had a bit of spice, probably from red pepper that I could taste. Mozzarella cheese was sprinkled on top and added a nice finish. This a dish that is easy to eat, especially this evening because it was cold outside and pasta and meatballs reminded me of Italian comfort food. My only wish is that they served me a larger portion. Otherwise, it was a nicely served dish that I would eat again and again.
Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta with Huckleberries: This was a delicious custard-based desert that reminded me of the soft inside of a creme brulee without the crisp outer shell. It was creamy and light and delicious with a nice lemon flavor. Huckleberries adorned the top and dark sauce mixed in with the Meyer lemon flavor. I would probably say that his was my favorite dish of the evening for its simplicity, truth, and culinary satisfaction. The texture paired perfectly as a desert with Italian food.
Our group drank a combination of martinis, cocktails, and wine. The wine pairings were primarily Italian and seemed to fit nicely with the food.
We sat in the more formal dinning area downstairs (which, like the upstairs, has quotes all over the walls). Our waitress was nice, she handled our large group gracefully, and gave great recommendations on drinks. Our menu selection was nice and clear and it was easy to make a decision on food based on your preferences.
One guest recently finished writing a nonfiction book about learning disorders, which is set to be published this year. Another guest, an artist, wore an innately designed gold necklace that she made from unique textile material. One guest was a computer programmer and game producer. He had been a competitive gamer all of his life, served as a nuclear submarine technician in the Navy, and now he’s producing and directly full length games for a living.
It was really an eclectic mix of people having dinner and sharing stories, but the nice thing is that no one felt out of place. In fact, the group acted as if they had known each other for a long time. I suppose that’s what happens when you combine good food, with good people, and a few drinks. People open up, share good stories, smile, laugh, and spark connections with fellow human beings.
Everything came out quickly, which was nice since we were all really hungry. We took our time enjoying our food, laughing, and sharing stories. We had artists, scientists, video game developers, teachers, professors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and all around happy people at our table.
It’s always reaffirming when a group of strangers can connect over good food and walk away as new friends.
Hello! I’m Myrissa Yamashiro and my blog is Almost Fit ti Eat which encompasses fitness and food – both of which I love. In my world, both (good) food and fitness exists.
Seattle’s first Mystery Meet was held at Luc Restuarant. It’s a place I’ve never been before and since I just recently cooked at its parent restaurant, Rovers (yes, I actually cooked at a restaurant) I thought it would be fun to see this place in action. There were ten of us at this Mystery Meet. With the exception of one of us, we were all first time diners at Luc.
First Course: smoked trout salad, frisee, argula, blood orage creme fraiche OR french onion soup OR warm spinach salad, lentils, roast chicken, fried capers, green goddess dressing. The salads were fresh, very flavorful. Diners described the salad portions as generous. The soup had a good amount of cheese making this classic soup delicious.
Second Course: grilled beef onglet steak, infused peppercorn sauce, fries OR steamed clams and mussels, tomato saffron broth, grilled calamari OR chick pea, picholine olive tagine, saffron cous cous, m’hamsa, fall salad, preserved plum. The seafood broth was talked about throughout the course. No one finished their fries – the portion was more than generous.
Third Course: classic creme caramel, orange sable cookie OR almond cake, apple butter, candied almond OR chococlate carable cake, whipped cream. Sweet endings to a fantastic dinner. Everyone loved their desserts.
We all had plenty of time to mingle and I met everyone at the table. There was interesting conversation throughout the evening with a chemist, real estate agent, student, operations managers, florists, fitness instructor, photographer, investigative reporter and me the blogger all at the dinner table.
Thank you to all that attended our Mystery Meet dinner. A special thank you to Luc Restaurant and Chef Thierry for taking the time to chat with us. We had a fantastic dinner.
Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook is an evocative collection of recipes featuring local foods, ethical and sustainable cooking, and healthy, balanced ingredients. An exploration and a celebration of the foods from the Silk Road, this timely book features over 120 vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free recipes tweaked for the modern cook but with hundreds of years of history behind them. Dahlia Abraham-Klein, pulling from her family’s strong culinary roots in Central Asia, India and the Mediterranean, has put together a cookbook that links the Silk Road of the past to modern day needs.
Dishes from the Silk Road have their roots in the ancient cooking traditions of Central Asia, where a few healthy ingredients were blended with a variety of spices to create nutritious, varied and flavorful meals—dishes that were mainly vegetarian and in many cases vegan and gluten free as well. In a world where so many people suffer from food allergies, the recipes in Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook harken back to a time when meat was rarely eaten and vegetables, legumes and rice—not wheat—were the staple of most diets.
Cultural traditions influence the way we eat, but over time our diets have drastically changed. By moving away from traditional ingredients in favor of fast foods, we’ve sacrificed taste, diversity, and freshness for quick meals laden with fats and calories. Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook will show you how to slow down, source local foods and eat a healthy, balanced and varied diet. Feel and look better, connect to your local community and inspire your palate with the delicious and nutritious foods of Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook.
Bengalis have been compared to the French in terms of food-obsessed peoples, as dining and entertaining are such an integral part of the culture. The book begins with a thorough introduction to Bengali culture and cooking, including sections on spices, ingredients, and equipment. Following are recipe chapters (incorporating a balance of traditional and contemporary recipes) on:
Includes 180 easy-to-follow recipes, plus sections on spice pastes, spice blends, and essential tools, and sidebars with family anecdotes and historical and cultural information.
In this cookbook, author Rinku Bhattacharya takes you on a personal journey of Bengali food, cuisine and culture. The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles won the Gourmand Award for Best Indian Cuisine Book for 2013.
A rollicking biography of bourbon whiskey that doubles as a rich and surprising history of America itself: As Dane Huckelbridge’s masterfully crafted history reveals, the iconic amber spirit is the American experience, distilled, aged, and sealed in a bottle.
Few products are so completely or intimately steeped in the American story as bourbon whiskey. Bourbon’s essential ingredient, corn, is indigenous to the Americas and had been fermented by its native peoples for centuries. At Jamestown, the earliest colonists applied their old-world distilling know-how to produce the first corn-based whiskey. Whiskey-swilling Scots-Irish immigrants had perfected bourbon’s recipe in the rugged oak forests of the Appalachian frontier by the early nineteenth century. In cowboy saloons and gambling halls of the late-nineteenth century, bourbon put the wild in Wild West.
During the early twentieth century, Prohibition famously sought to curtail America’s drinking but instead expanded alcohol’s reach as speakeasies run by gangsters and bootleggers welcomed women and made drinking more fashionable than ever. Bourbon-consumption reached record heights-both at home and abroad-as America came of age as a superpower after World War II and labels like Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam emerged as global brands on par with Coca-Cola.
Today the story has come full circle with a renewed appreciation of craft-distilled whiskey produced in small batches, much as it was 150 years ago. Bourbon has been at turns rebellious and traditional, liberating and destructive, regional and global; to know it is to understand the American story. Crack open Bourbon, and come along for the ride.
Gary Paul Nabhan takes the reader on a vivid and far-ranging journey across time and space in this fascinating look at the relationship between the spice trade and culinary imperialism. Drawing on his own family’s history as spice traders, as well as travel narratives, historical accounts, and an ethnobotanical exploration of spices and their uses, Nabhan describes the critically important roles that Semitic peoples and desert floras had in setting the stages for globalized spice trade.
Traveling along four prominent trade routes—the Silk Road, the Frankincense Trail, the Spice Route, and the Camino Real for chiles and chocolate—Nabhan follows the caravans of itinerant spice merchants from the frankincense-gathering grounds and ancient harbors of the Arabian Peninsula, to the port of Zayton on the China Sea, to Santa Fe in the desert Southwest. His stories, recipes, and linguistic analyses of cultural diffusion routes reveal the extent to which aromatics like cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and peppers became adopted worldwide as signature ingredients of diverse cuisines.Cumin, Camels, and Caravans demonstrates that two particular desert cultures often depicted in constant conflict—Arabs and Jews—have spent more of their history collaborating in the spice trade and suggests how a more virtuous multicultural but globalized society may be achieved in the future.
Scrumptious recipes for appetizers, entrees, and desserts
From the anatomy of a nut to the history of the almond in world culture, the cultivation of almond orchards in California, and nutrition provided by a favorite nut, Bryant and Fentress provide a wealth of information about the versatile, high-protein, diet-friendly almond.
Try Soba Noodles with Spicy Almond Butter Sauce; Almond-Crusted Pork Chops with Sweet-and-Sour Apricot Glaze; Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Almonds and Honey; Almond Florentine Cookies; Chocolate-Amaretto Torte; Moroccan Rice Pudding; and classic Chocolate-Almond Bark.
Barbara Bryant is president of Watermark Foundation. She is the coauthor of The Bryant Family Vineyard Cookbook (Andrews McMeel, 2009). Barbara is also the founder and president of Watermark,Ltd., the publishing producer of The Bryant Family Vineyard Cookbook.
Betsy Fentress is a professional writer and editor and avid baker. She is the coauthor of The Bryant Family Vineyard Cookbook. Betsy is the vice-president of Watermark,Ltd. and lives in St. Louis.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food writer, editor and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area. She writes about food and travel, contributes to NPR’s Kitchen Window, Relish magazine, Marin magazine and authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 500 original recipes, photos and stories.
Photographs by Robert Holmes from Almonds Recipes, History, Culture by Barbara Bryant and Betsy Fentress with recipes by Lynda Balslev, reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.
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