That is the basic concept of Kali Dining, my favorite not-a-pop-up pop up this year.
This particular iteration took place in Marina del Rey. We were given an entry code to let ourselves in at the main gate - adding to the feeling of us going to a friend-of-a-friend's place.
Though it might feel a bit awkward for some, going to a dinner party where people didn't really know each other, Chef Meehan immediately put everyone at ease - multi-tasking to play host while finishing up prep in the wide open kitchen. He guided us to the BYOB wine table, where dozens of welcoming bottles served both as topic of conversation and liquid encouragement to help break the ice with other guests.
Gourmetpigs and I adore and miss foie, Chef Meehan pulled out an off menu snack for us to taste: something he created just for the heck of it. That membrane you usually pull out and discard from a lobe of foie, when making torchon? He took that and cured it with a blend of secret herbs and spices.
The taste and texture reminded me of the fat from duck proscuitto, fatty with a bit of resilience and toothsomeness, but next level delicious. This was the way to start an underground supper club meal.
I loved how the oil helped the yolk glide into your mouth, to burst in an elegant release of liquid sunshine perfectly balanced by the other creamy / crunchy / granular ingredients.
I could have sat there all night popping these by the dozen, cholesterol / calories be damned.
We'd had abalone the traditional Chinese way, braised whole in starchy oyster/soy/chicken broth sauce; the modern Chinese way, double boiled in broth in whole papaya shell; the Korean / Japanese way, sliced raw and served sashimi style. I've never had it with citrus, kumquat, a creamy sauce, and edible flowers before.
The acidity lent brightness to the otherwise barely flavored gastropod; the cream based sauce was a nice counter foil to its chewy-crunchiness, while the flowers added nice visual and textural contrast. I would have wanted the kumquat to be served with more of a delicate touch though - in its entirety, it was a little too bulky and didn't really flow with the rest of the dish. But otherwise, a nice 'surprise and delight' course.
Apparently the 'simple to make' (by Chef Meehan's definition) nuggets-o-delicious were white chocolate truffles infused with white truffle oil, and rolled with cinnamon and other spices that I can't remember because I had endorphins mad-raging through my brain from how delicious these little insanely fragrant nuggets were. Whatever you may usually think of truffle oil, it works here to spectacular effect. If Chef Meehan had made these available for sale I would have gladly emptied my bank account to fill my open palms with whatever inventory he had.
We were all sad when the meal concluded - and almost in spontaneous synchrony started to exchange contact info with other diners - almost as if we realized that we had been inducted into an unspoken club, ever bonded by our experience of something special.
All in all, one of the best dinner parties I've ever been to. Sign me up for the next one (please).