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Dining in the Dark

Our fourth Mystery Meet was a first for Boston: Dining in the Dark. We brought this Swiss culinary tradition, in which diners eat blindfolded, to the Hampshire House in Beacon Hill. Foodies were treated to a unique culinary experience with live music and guided narration. We've got plenty of photos, so you can see everything that we didn't!

A culinary first for Boston

The goal of Mystery Meet has always been to bring a spirit of adventurousness to our dining experiences, so when David Goldstein of Boston Chocolate Tours approached us with the idea of Dining in the Dark after he attended Mystery Meet #2, we were very excited about the opportunity to bring this unique concept to Boston for the first time. Dining in the Dark is a culinary tradition that was started with Jorge Spielmann, a blind clergyman in Switzerland, who invited guests to dine with him blindfolded. In 1999, this concept became the restaurant Blindekuh (meaning "blind cow") in Zurich. The concept has since spread to Paris, Moscow, Berlin, Prague, Hong Kong, New York and California.

David produced the event with the help of Hampshire House Executive Chef Markus Riperger. He brought writer Karen Nelson on board to guide diners through the evening with narration. He also recruited Sonia Carrion, who wrote and performed original music to accompany the foodies on their culinary journey.

Host and narrator Karen Nelson guided foodies through the experience
Sonia Carrion performed original music written specifically for Dining in the Dark
The Hampshire House
Colonel Mustard ate the Lead Pipe in the Library Grill
It looked like this, only darker. Much much darker.

The evening began as the foodies gathered in the bar on the second floor of Hampshire House (above the legendary Bull & Finch pub of Cheers fame in Beacon Hill). After everyone arrived, Karen offered instructions and foodies were blindfolded. They lined up, placing their hands on the shoulders of the foodie in front of them, and were guided into the adjoining room for dinner.

Melissa of Max's Deli goes blind
Matt and Erin fumble for their food
At the mercy of our waiter, Eric
Notice Jane, one of our sighted facilitators, posing in the background
Three blond mice

The meal was divided into four courses:

  • Samplings from Our Cauldron: Trilogy of Gingered Organic Chantenay Carrot Soup, Caramelized Pumpkin Soup & Cream of Parsnip with Chives
  • Textures from the Ocean: Skillet Seared Scallop & Shrimp, Garnished with a Wonton Crisp, Green Apple, Lemon Thyme on a Bed of Arugula
  • Roast Beast & Trimmings: Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast, Oven Roasted Bliss Potatoes with Rosemary Miniature Zuchini, Squash Burst & Carrots
  • Heavenly Sweets: House Made Bittersweet Crackle, Double Chocolate Chip Cookie & Cinnamon Ice Cream with an Oatmeal Crisp
Soup, Salad and Entree
Executive Chef Markus Ripperger's menu
A meal is never complete without dessert

Dining in the Dark is a tactile experience, and many diners found them forgoing silverware in favor of their bare hands by the second course.

Finger food

A number of our favorite food bloggers joined us for the event, including Glenn and Katrin of Wine Dine With Us, Rachel of Fork it Over, Boston!, Dale of Drinks Are on Me, Michelle of Savory Flavors, and Andrea of 1FastBite. Here are their reviews:

Jessica of WBUR's Radio Boston also dropped by to cover the event. Hear WBUR's coverage.

The New Haven Register also wrote about our event.

Blogger meet broadcaster

At the end of the meal, everyone lifted the blindfolds and discovered their real surroundings, including a menu that revealed exactly what they had been eating.

"I THOUGHT it tasted like chicken!"

Our fourth Mystery Meet sold out in a record-shattering five minutes. Here are the clues that were provided in advance of the event:

  • This Meet will provide a mysterious and groundbreaking culinary experience - guaranteed to be a first for the city of Boston!
  • This tradition can be traced back to a visually-impaired German bovine.
  • David Lee Roth, Michael Crichton and Uma Thurman have lived in the same neighborhood as this restaurant.
Zurich, 1999
  • a.k.a. "Melville's"
Back to light

Thank you to David, Karen, Sonia, Markus and the entire Hampshire House team for making this such a great event. You can find out more about Dining in the Dark here.

Published October 15th, 2010