The following story was written by my older brother Rojelio Cabral. It documents his experiences while eating at a dinner hosted by Kitchensurfing–a chef dispatching catering/pop-up hybrid service of sorts–in Venice. I’ll save you guys the embarrassment of browsing through my old cheesy, grammar nightmare (yes, even more than now) “early years” archive of food writing in 2006 and let you guys know that he basically is responsible for The Glutster. He started taking me out to restaurants and showing what’s up with good food, both fine dining in the Westside and hole-in-the-wall regional Asian in the SGV, in 2005.
A private home in the Venice triangle, Venice’s most desired real estate, tucked between Abbot Kinney and Grand Blvd. Chic start.
Entering, I spied the chefs preparing purple-y suction goodness –partial to octopus I am. Initial impression = promising.
Stars of the night (in order):
Lamb Chops with a pistachio, mint, basil pesto. Excellently grilled.
Polenta patty, or cake, whichever –the base looked like an orange, cut in rings– grilled, piled with baby broccoli, pine nuts, currants and splashed with balsamic vinegar.
Pavlova –a meringue, a dollop of lemon curd, cream and a sliver of fig topped with a blueberry, and other seasonal fruits.
Credit awarded to the organizers, who decided to take advantage of the pleasant Venice night, and deck, and moved the dining outdoors.
De-credited for the poor lighting –er, no lighting.
“Ugh, I can’t see what I’m eating!” became the common refrain of the night. Although a candle was brought onto the food table toward the end, better than never, the darkness was frustrating enough to distract. I come from visual-dominant ilk and flavors enter through the eyes first. A wow moment missed indeed.
Back to the food.
Despite the murk, the eats delicious and the textures sumptuous.
[Except for the chicken, with house made BBQ sauce, which tasted bland (?!). Inexplicably. Though it was succulent.]
There was an Orzo concoction, um Summer Salad, impressive in it’s range of flavors and a Crispy Chorizo with pomegranate bursts (and chicory) that was bright and remarkable. The (Firecracker) Shrimp on a skewer was above par in its sushi-like mouth feel, though cooked. Yummy, but neither sweet nor spicy as billed. Go figure.
Didn’t like that they had canned Modelo beers, for hipster purposes. It is possible that the organizers were thinking cost-effectiveness, in contrast to the model home. However, I heard more than one attendee –too comfortably, almost flippant– claim some for slumming hipness factor. Modelo beer may be cool, but the way these guys and gals were handling it as über cool was decidedly not cool.
Stranger still, two otherwise nice guests too casually share “Where are the gangsters? Pfft, I came to Venice because [the dangerous lowlife element] keep the riff-raff out. A murder (they might’ve said ‘killing’) or two keeps it real.” Riff-raff, she explained, referred to the affluent.
The comment may be true. A hood-bred person could get away saying as much. If you’re a seemingly well-bred, uppity bougie, in PR, meeting new people, it comes off as callous and in bad taste.
Keeping it classy, I kept my offense –and I don’t get offended– to myself. People can say what they want. I’m a fan of agreeing to disagree. It’s only civil.
Kitchensurfing.com soft launched a service. They’ll dispatch chefs, for one or many, to home or office, or wherever needed to prepare a meal. Since their service is not about handling the décor, the food being rather worthy, they can be forgiven for the lighting.