Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Last December, I was invited and hosted by Chef Amy Jurist, of Amy's Culinary Adventures, to attend one of her decadent underground dinners. With the theme being "Cheese Please!" and with my love of cheese, this was one invitation that I definitely did not want to turn down. This is actually my second time attending an underground dinner. That first experience was on a much smaller scale and took place at the chef's home; however, Amy's version was definitely much grander and was held at the Bradford Stewart Studio in Culver City with around 90+ in attendance.
The evening started with wine being served along with a trio of appetizers and plenty of it. It could have been really easy to fill up on all those starters. First, there were the mini Crab and Swiss Cheese Quiches with the Swiss Cheese adding a nice little sharpness to the sweetness of the crab.
Next up were the Port and Honey Goat Cheese Napoleons with Pistachios. I honestly don't remember really tasting the port, but I enjoyed the pungent/sweet/nutty flavors of all the other ingredients.
To finish off the trio was the Queso Fundido Con Chorizo. Who could say no to Chorizo?
Soon, we sat down to dinner, but before we got started, Chef Amy came out to tell us a little about herself and her inspiration for that night's theme.
After her introduction, our first course was a Roast Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Sharp Cheddar Tuile. I loved the tuile. It added a nice crunch component and sharpness to the otherwise mild soup.
When we were done with the soup, out came bread. Oh my god, the bread! It was totally amazing. If I could have snuck out to the the kitchen area and brought home an entire box, bag or whatever I could find, of this Blue Cheese Scallion Bread, I would have done so with a smile on my face and without a trace of guilt in my heart.
Our next course was the Yam and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce. I have to admit that I was confused by this dish. First, I think this was actually a Raviolo. Ravioli is the plural of raviolo. Also, this raviolo didn't seem like a closed pasta. Instead, it was open at the sides? Of all the dishes, this was my least favorite. The sage butter sauce seemed a little too oily and the yam too sweet. The flavors just didn't come together for me.
Next up was the Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken with Fontina and Spinach Gratin. Although a tad salty, perhaps because of the proscuitto, this was a good dish. I loved how the breading of the chicken was crispy and cooked to the point that it was a little caramelized. The chicken breast itself was moist and I liked that there was no skimping on the spinach filling.
Even before the chicken, I was getting really full, but I didn't want to miss dessert, which was Pecan Pie Cheesecake with Vanilla and Raspberry Sauce. Normally, I'm not much of a cheesecake person, but this one I enjoyed a lot. The pecans and brown sugar topping had a sweetness to it that surprisingly wasn't cloying. It was just right and when you ate the cheesecake with a little bit of the raspberry sauce, the addition of the tart fruity notes was a nice touch.
Overall, this was a really fun evening. Not only was the food great, you definitely did not go home hungry. What was also nice was mixing and mingling with other food lovers, whether it was during the cocktail hour or sitting at the long communal tables and chatting with your neighbors. To get more info about Amy's Culinary Adventures, check out the links below.
Click here to visit Amy's Culinary's Adventures Website!
Click here to get info on Amy's next underground dinner, the Bacon Affair!