15 March 2011

Uncovering the Cutest Kitchen in Town

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending one of Hidden Kitchen's dinner parties.  Supper clubs, where people invite a small group into their homes and ask for donations for excellent meals, are not a new phenomenon in Paris by any means.  Yet, everyone I talked to mentioned this American couple's, Laura and Braden, charming dinner for 16 people in their apartment.  I decided it was time to see what the fuss was all about and made my reservation, hoping the Christmas lull would score me a spot...
In February. (It was worth the wait but we'll get there in a minute).

These guys are so hot that you have to book months in advance.  I waited and twitched for two months, waiting with an impatience equivalent to a kid on Christmas.  I was excited about finally being part of the crowd that had been able to go to Hidden Kitchen, but nervous as well.  I'm eating dinner with 14 other people I don't know !  How will this work out ?  The last weekend in Feburary finally rolled around, when Fab sent me a message suggesting he needed to cancel our reservation at the last minute since we were moving.

*blink blink* Are you kidding me ?  We will move until we can move no more and then we will clean ourselves up real good and be there for 8 PM !!  And that is precisely what we did.

We arrived at the apartment at 8 PM to be greeted by Laura, who kindly took our coats and offered us a delightful apéro of champagne, Buffalo vodka, lichee and spumante.   The conversation casually followed the "Do you live in Paris or are you visiting?" path.  When we informed everyone that we had just moved apartments before coming, people looked shocked and stated that we were very well put together for having just gone through a move.  I liked this crowd already !

I loved this apartment !
Laura announced that we could take our seats at the table, so we moseyed into their beautiful living room.  Candles were everywhere, making the area very cosy.  A book cabinet full of various popular cookbooks was at the end of the table, adding an additional homey touch to the atmosphere.  We had the fortune of sitting across from a lovely British couple and a charming Canadian couple, and the dinner conversation was fantastic, never dull.  This environment embodied one of the reasons why I moved to Paris : you can have the most amazing, informative conversations with people you have just met.  This city has some incredibly fascinating, charming people.

The dinner was of the stuff dreams are made out of, and is probably the reason one waits 2 months or so to get a spot.  We started off with amuses-bouche.  Braden came out to announce each new dish and offered to share preparation tips, wine information, or any other interesting fact.  No one spoke up right away, so he joked that we weren't boozy enough and we would soon be firing questions at him left and right.  With that, wine was poured.

Overall, the food was well-balanced and full of flavor.  The fennel in the Caramalized Fennel with Clams, Grapefruit and Miso entrée had the best taste I have ever eaten, and the miso with grapefruit was such a perfectly paired yet unsuspecting combination.  My favorite dish was the Quail with Tabasco Lentils, Roasted Celeriac, and Radish.  The tabasco added just the right kick but didn't overpower the taste of the quail croquette that had been made, nor the root vegetables.  The dessert of Almond Cake with Blood Orange and Ricotta Ice Cream was simple but once again so incredibly flavorful.  And the mignardises of a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, cinnamon marshmallow, and toffee made with popcorn were just too adorable that I didn't want to eat them (but alas, my stomach won, and I did).  10 beautiful exquisite courses.  To make things even more fun, the girl I was sitting next to is a trained sommalière at one of the hottest restaurants in town, so she was giving us explanations on why the wine paired so well with various dishes.

Caramelized Fennel with Clams, Grapefruit, and Miso

Almond Cake with Blood Orange and Ricotta Ice Cream


Fab and I lingered to keep talking to our dinner neighbors.  Then Laura and Braden came out to talk to us some, and released their adorable Boston Terrier, Tattie (named after Ernest Hemingway's nickname from his first wife).  It really felt like we were having dinner with friends and we just didn't want the night to end.  I asked Laura when I could come back with family, but alas, the summer tourist season's plans are being made by starry-eyed tourists, and most reservations are taken up through the end of June.  Hopefully I will be able to dine once again with this talented couple, but until then, the memories will be more than enough to sustain me.

Hidden Kitchen
Reserve by sending an email to hkreservations@gmail.com
Join their Twitter page (they announce cancellations !) http://twitter.com/#!/HiddenKitchen

1 comment:

  1. This dinner was among the very best of my life! I am grateful you convinced me not to cancel the reservation. I had no idea what I would have been missing! It was such a great surprise to savor all this good food and wine in such a pleasant atmosphere.
    Thanks sweetie! :)