Last week I was super excited to get an email from Bay Area chef, Blair Warsham, who I liked so much after one dinner at a private event I had him cater my (and my husband’s) wedding. The first time I had one of his meals he did several courses that were his interpretation on comfort food. Think pork and beans (crunchy pork skin!) and fried rice (best fried rice I’ve ever had: cylinder of rice with an egg in the middle, caramelized on one side with fresh vegetables and a broth that tasted exactly like fried rice). For our wedding my husband and I went with a Spanish themed dinner that had three hors d’oeuvres and three courses. So when I got his email announcing that he was doing a small 10-person dinner with three courses, three drink pairings and dessert at a “secret location” I was completely on board.
Luckily, since the Saturday night dinner sold out quickly, Blair offered to have another dinner on Sunday night. I gathered five people to join my husband and I for an amazing dinner cooked just for us. Without further ado…
Upon arriving we received an aperitif of champagne, gin and elderflower liqueur.
Our first course: Cumin Lamb Belly Bao — harissa, smoked almonds, black vinegar hoison
Yes, like pork belly but LAMB. This was served with an IPA and also includes caramelized onions. It was all the right flavors and while I sometimes find the fat in belly overwhelming and texturally unappetizing, the other elements in this tempered it. Yes, our buns (aka bao) are a little overcooked but I actually liked that they were crunchy otherwise this whole course would have been pretty soft.
Next up: Smoke Cured Hamachi — Kimchi, tart Fuji Apple, maple dosed onions
The apples under the fish are kimchi and so is the dish on the left with celery, peppers and celery root. I forget what the puree under the fish is (celery root, maybe?) and then the garnish is arugula on that fish. If I had to pick my least favorite dish of the night, it would be this one. The kimchi vegetables were chewy even though the flavor was good and I didn’t really understand the arugula garnish because if it didn’t add anything. Had this dish been just the fish, apples and puree I would have probably liked it more. There was no drink pairing with this course but we all had brought wine and paired it with an Eric Ross Albarino.
Our third (and probably my favorite) course: Plantain wrapped crispy Hen — Savory yeast risen waffle, Firey Bananna Sambal, Coco Crema
Yup, hands down my favorite course and enough to be a meal on it’s own! I didn’t find this too spicy at all and the coco crema (coconut milk and heavy cream) balanced out any heat. But really, how can you NOT like chicken and waffles!? The sweetness of the plantains, the slight spice and sweetness of the sambal, the fatty dark meat of the chicken all over a waffle? I’d eat this again any day of the week. We ran out of white wine so we enjoyed this with red wine.
Last but not least: Grilled Pinapple “Rangoon”— Cinnamon Basil, Toasted Rice-Cream, Salt Caramel
This was paired with a sweet Riesling which was really nice to pump up the sweet factor of this dessert. Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits and in this application where it wasn’t served as freshly cut it tempers the acidity and brings out the sweetness. I don’t have to tell you I would eat this again but I would even eat it with a small leaf more of basil because I love basil and thought there could have been more of it in garnish or worked in another way.
Over all, if you are ever in the Bay Area and have the chance to experience one of Blair’s meals you should definitely do it. Regardless of what’s he’s cookin’, he puts a spin on it that will surprise and delight you. He also caters, does private cooking lessons, etc. and I bet he’ll travel, too.
What? You read the title and thought there was more? Okay. There’s one more thing. I guess I could have put this in another post but since it happened on the same night I thought it might be appropriate to mention that after dinner this happened:
I should note that I don’t normally have cankles. I had a little tumble and
felt feel like a total dufus. I told my husband I could just ice it at home, but he wanted to make sure I was really okay and insisted on the ER.
The good news is that this is the first time I’ve ever been the one in the ER and our local ER had us in and out of there in about an hour! Yes, x-rays and all! The bad news is that I’m on crutches for a few days. More good news though, I can rock these socks: