Dinner Project II took place last week, you may remember the first one from a couple months ago where I invited 3 guests and they in turn brought another guest and we ate tons of food and made art. The initial idea of the project was to gather people in the arts together in an unassuming environment, network and build a community. It was then supposed to turn into a serial affair where guests of the guests attended the next dinner and they in turn brought a guest in an ongoing cycle of connectivity. The flaw to this is that then guests would have attended two dinners in a row and that’s neither a smart or fresh idea. And they’d have to make art twice, see my face twice, and eat my food, twice. So I threw that part of the project down the pit and turned Dinner Project into an artcentric by-invitation dinner party. It’s an event for those turned off by the commercialism and unapproachability of snotty peeps in the institutional system who seek solace in an all open arena of self-made economy and sustainability. I want it to contribute as a support system, a community building tool where people simply gather and enjoy themselves and briefly forget the drudgeries of being an aspiring artist, writer, curator, administrator, etc. I want it to be marked down into the book of irrelevant history as a gathering place for artfolk, a haven of comforting food and delectable company.
For the second dinner I “themed” my invitations and turned it into a women-rock-the-art-world dinner. The group consisted of an artist/furntire designer, an artist/art podcaster, a blogger/curator/critic/baker, another blogger, an independent curator/baker, and a mural project organizer/administrator/jewlery designer. The vibe is what you’d expect when you bring a bunch of powerful kick ass women into one room: incessant laughter, wine chugging, gossip mongering, and juicy conversations packed with art and food. The menu consisted of tofu skewers, salmon, grilled veggies, quinoa salad and banana, coconut, tapioca pearl pudding soup and once final bites were taken we cleared the table and reverting to our 3rd grade arts & crafts class, whipped out the pens and started drawing, exquisite corpse style. We rotated 5 pieces of watercolor paper folded in quarters and amidst the chatter drew whatever surrealistically came to our minds. The end results were trippy, cartoony, hysterical and creepy. We naturally veered away from the human form and executed in patterns and forms for the most part and despite half of us not being artists we did a helluva job in creating some disturbing images. Towards the end of the evening I whipped out my “How much was it worth?” box and graciously received donations from guests to help fund the project (pay for groceries). Yet another successful dinner with an amazing group of individuals. I figured the next dinner to happen end of June will be themed around “greenpoint artists”. Looking forward.
Now, recipes and images:
The majority of the recipes came from the most recent issue of Gourmet and flipping through the mag was a sedative and therapeutic experience flying me through the cuisines of Mexico and Greece and I found amazing recipes to use on the grill. I wanted the menu to be light and springy so stayed away from heavy vegetables, pasta, and rice. For appetizer I found a recipe for tofu miso skewers which were bite size, light and warm. I fucked the first time around leaving the miso to broil a minute too long in the oven leaving me with scorched squares. Luckily this is a super simple recipe, you basically broil the tofu in the oven for a few minutes, spread the miso paste (miso, wine and sugar), and broil for exactly 1 minute, no longer. The end prduct is soft, salty and toasty. I stuck them with 2 skewers and trimmed the ends off so it wasn’t too long. Tofu popsicles that isn’t messy, drippy, or rich, a great start.
For the main course I purchased half a huge salmon fillet from the local grocery store in Williamsburg and topped the oven cooked baby with pickled vegetables. Preheat the oven to 350, drench the fish in salt, pepper, garlic and some herbs, wrap in foil and bake for 30 minutes. Simple as that. The pickled veggies took a few more steps and there was a pile left over which I am yet to reuse. It was a refreshing and crunchy and summery addition to the fillet which was just salty and soft enough to melt in your mouth with leave with lingering warmth.
I grilled artichokes and eggplants soaked in oil, salt and pepper as a small side to the meal. It was supposed to be added to the quinoa salad but I figure it would be too clumpy and mixed and gave it its own space on the place. I’ve actually never used eggplants before, turned off by everyone else being turned off by its tastelessness and lack of nutrients. It has similar textural taste and quality to squash and I loved its mushy gooeyness although it doesn’t hold together very well in the oven. The asparagus is the quintessential spring vegetable and I’m using it as much as possible before it disappears from the market.
This Latin dish is the most complicated quinoa salad recipe I’ve ever found but sooooooooo worth the time (although it didn’t take that long) as the mix of flavors from olives to fresh mozzarella, from cilantro to balsamic vinegar was such a gratifying and savory experience. The variety of chewing factors is the winner for me, not to mention the sprinkle of paprika that is initially subtle and almost adds a sweet touch to the salad. This is a fantastic winner of all recipe and I was so glad I made enough to last me the next few days. I can’t seem to find it online so it’ll be at the end of this post.
I somehow forgot to take pictures of the tapioca soup but the Saveur mag’s image will do justice. This vietnamese street snack is not too creamy or thick which I expected along possibly being too nauseatingly sweet, dense and warm. The gooey mush factor from the banana and pearls were complimented by the honey roasted peanuts giving it a crunch and saltiness that saved the dish. It was sweet indeed but a nourishing sweet that is comfort from above. Success.
Now for those exquisite images: