It's been a while since I wrote about an event. I must be busy.
Someone asked me today whether my events are getting easier [and better] as I host more and more of them. It got me thinking about my first popup just a year ago. And boy (if I may say so myself), have I improved. From struggling to fill 10 seats, to 20 spots going off in a flash within 48 hours, I am inclined to think I must be doing something right. And learning. Still learning.
Last night was my 10th Pop Up dinner (yes, in less than a year!). I have extensive lists : checklists, lists for better organisation, lists of loyal followers, lists of partnerships and great venues. Lists that always seem to be growing, and each dinner makes me think of how terrible the previous one was. Isn't that progression?
But I digress. Back to last night. I hosted the dinner in a secret space in Chelsea, with table scape designed courtesy of the very talented guest-turned-collaborator Uma Stewart. Isn't it a perfectly cosy table? Subtle yet classy, it's all I wanted for my summer themed dinner. And Uma did it all without once visiting the venue. Now that's art.
The menu for the night : Cooling classics with colourful twists, mood-inspired fusion & lots of play.
First up, guests were welcome by a tray full of Spiced Chickpea Crackers, paired with a Raw Mango, Lime & Cumin Punch. Quick & easy, these are always a thriving crowd pleaser. While guests munched & mingled, I got working on the 6-course tasting menu.
Course 1 was a cold take on the ever popular North Indian Kadhi. Traditionally a thick soup made from yogurt & gram flour and eaten warm, I added a seasonal kick with green beans and [extra hot] chilies, and served it chilled with grapes & mint. Also served on the side were savory [ooh butter!] Red Onion & Carrot Cake Bites [didn't take a pic!]. Believe you me, this course was the winner!
Course 2 was inspired by the grilling season. Spiced Chicken Kebab Patty on a bed of Grilled Corn in Cilantro Chutney, Fengureek Roti & Plum Tomato Sauce (that resembled a butter chicken curry). Mmmmm.....
Next up was my personal favorite - Bhindi! Okra Masala in Wonton Cups with Chili Cream & Carrot Ribbons - the ribbons were meant to resemble the fiery sun, but errrr... I might have failed a little there. What can I say, I'm over ambitious! Well, what's in a look when the dish tasted oh-so-fine.
Course 4 was baked South Indian Masala Fish served atop Avocado tossed in Tamarind Chutney. The sweet & spicy mix definitely tingled some taste buds, as most guests were expecting the avocado to taste like guacamole. Normality? No sir, doesn't exist in the 29. kitchen!
The last savory course was a cooling blend of Curd Rice with Carrot & Radish Greens (I don't waste any part!) served with a spicy Panch Phoran (5-spice blend) Black Eyed Peas Puree & Raw Beet Slaw. Don't you just love the layer of color? My heart was singing plating this.
The favorite part of the meal, a.k.a the dessert! Dedicated to my love of mangoes, I served a Semolina Truffle with Cardamom, Coconut & Mango Custard, Fresh Mango & June Berries. Fun fact : June berries grow all across NY only in the month of June, and resemble blueberries, only sweeter and a taste like a blend of pomegranate, blueberries and cherries. What's there not to love! And no, they cannot be bought anywhere [yet] so I picked each one of them myself. Talk about dedication to create an experience. Ahem.
The verdict? I loved it. I loved the people. I loved my table, I loved the energy, and I loved hosting it. And even though I could barely stand after, I will do it again soon. Very soon. Watch this space, and hope to see you on the 29. tablenext time!