June 14, 2013

There's A Supper Club In Town, But SHHH It's A Secret!

I had heard through a friend of a friend of an ex of a friend that there's a secret supper club in town. No I'm not talking about Cobaya, the one I'm referring to is a much more intimate affair. Our host, Shelley, has been opening up her home once (sometimes twice) a month since April of last year. Every dinner, Shelley invites 8-12 complete strangers to her Shelley Belly Underground Supper Club. The address and menu are a secret, the only things you need to do are save the date and BYOB.  In addition to this supper club taking place in someone's home, what peaked my interest most of all was that Shelley (who's also the cook) is considerate of other people's food allergies. Which is the main reason I don't attend other underground dining events; I mean, who want's to be the Debbie Downer bursting into anaphylactic shock in the middle of dinner because they bit into some shrimp? Certainly not I.
 
So a couple of days before the event, I get an email with the exact time and address of the dinner. Along with the address, there's a secret code that I have to say at the door in order to gain access. At this point, I was starting to get excited. All this secrecy and intrigue made me feel like I was taking part in something clandestine and kinky, which I'm all for.

The day had come, I had braved bad weather and horrible traffic and found myself at Shelley's door. I recited my secret code and was welcomed into Shelley's lovely home. As I walked in I was handed a cocktail and an amuse-bouche. Already, I was enjoying myself. The cocktail was an aperol spritz, something fun and sweet to get the party started. The amuse-bouche were black sesame wonton cones filled with homemade cream cheese and topped with American caviar. They were delicious and certainly a tasty foreshadowing of what I was in for.

 
In the corner of the living room, there was a neat chalkboard with the night's menu listed. Around the living room and balcony, everyone stood around mingling and getting to know one another. Everyone asked each other the same question, "How did you find out about this supper club?" Since it was a small group of people, conversation came rather easy. People from different walks of life and from all around the world (South Africa, Italy, Colombia to name a few) converged in Shelley's house to share a meal. It's pretty amazing once you wrapped your brain around it. Before we knew it, it was time to take our seat to get things started.
 



We started out the night with eggs and salt. Yea, I thought the same thing too, "WTF?" Semi hard boiled quail eggs with a variety of different salts (some of which were made by Shelley herself). The salts were placed in the center of the dining table and meant to be shared amongst the group. It was actually surprisingly very good, the quail eggs were so creamy that I caught myself popping them like M&M's. My favorite salt pairings were the ghost, charcoal, smoke and lemon.

 
Moving right along, we then had some pickles and spreads. We had a sweet corn "butter" which wasn't butter at all. According to Shelley, the spread was made only of sweet corn and then topped with some smoked paprika. Then we had some bone marrow butter, which was delicious. Right next to it was a very tasty lamb rillette, some pickled Jerusalem chokes and pickled radishes. All of these were served with a basket of warm breads. By far, my favorite were the sweet corn and bone marrow butter with the lamb rillette coming in a close third. I've never been a pickle fan, so it's no surprise I wasn't crazy about the pickled veggies.
 

 
We then had my favorite dish of the night. It was called Farro & Foie and it was magical. It was cooked farro that was topped off with finely shredded frozen foie gras and sprinkled with caramelized sugar. The warm faro melted the cold foie gras and that crunch from the caramelized sugar was just icing on the cake. I inhaled this dish in about 60 seconds like some wild savage from Kendall. When I was finished, I looked up from my empty plate only to realize the rest of the party was on their second bite, #QuePena.
 
 
Immediately after that heavenly Farro & Foie, we were served a little cucumber shaved ice to cleanse our palate. It was slightly sweet and totally refreshing. It was a wonderful little halftime break from the feast we were in the midst of.
 
 
We then moved into the main event! Shelley had been able to get her hands on some lamb from Pennsylvania. She made lamb belly with a middle eastern twist. It was served with roasted beets and carrots, pureed carrots and tzatziki sauce. It was lovely, yummy and just wow. The words "Fan-fuckin-tastic," don't properly describe how great this was.  It was also served with a very flavorful chick pea salad.

 
 
 
As the night progressed and people became more jovial with one another, people started sharing their wines with each other. With a couple of heavy-duty wine connoisseurs and a soon-to-be sommelier at the table, there was some amazing wines at our dinner. Some of the wines were almost as old as me.

 
We eased our way to dessert and wow it was just WOW. It was an apricot pie made with black pepper and served with a sour cream ice cream. Yes, you read that right. It was mildly sweet, slightly savory and the ice cream made it funky and tart. It was so different and refreshing all at the same time.
 

 
 
After consuming several bottles of wine, dined on an amazing home cooked meal and enjoyed good company, we came to the end of our culinary voyage. We ended the night with an espresso martini served with two bite size dark chocolate brownies. A perfect end to such a fun and filling night.
 

If I have the chance to take part in Shelley Belly's Underground dinner, I would do so in a heartbeat. The food was all amazing and the company was great. As one of Shelley's main reasons for starting up the supper club, it was a great way to meet new and different people. Shelley advises that the food is usually her take on 'Modern European' cuisine. Using as much local and seasonal produce as possible. If you ever have the opportunity, I urge you to check it out for yourself!
 
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Details:
Shelley Belly's Underground
http://shelley-belly.com/shelley-belly-underground/
For info on how to go underground contact Shelley at shelley.belly@att.net
 

 

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