Showing posts from July, 2023

What is a pop-up dinner event?

Well, it depends on who is doing it. This is how we do it: We dream of international destinations where there are lots of good eats (the more exotic the better). We fantasize what the ultimate menu might be at this destination. We research what wines and beverages might pair well with these dishes. We set a table for 10 people and have one hell of a dinner a party!  This is what makes us different: All of our pop-up events are all-inclusive prix fixe dinners. This means you get a multi-course dinner complete with wine and other beverage pairings all evening long for one fixed price. Unlike at restaurants, all taxes and tip are included as well. Since we're only inviting 10 people, these are small intimate affairs where you can easily meet other like-minded foodies and make new friends. Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun. We just pulled off a 10-course Japanese tasting menu around the theme BULLET TRAIN TO OSAKA. We're looking forward to exploring France

New recipe: Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake similar to the Korean pajun. Made with eggs and flour, this giant omelet is similar to a French quiche or an Italian frittata, but it's all made in a pan. In fact, flipping this pancake is the most challenging part of making this dish because of its sheer size.  Like an omelet, you can pretty much put anything you want in an okonomiyaki pancake. Although traditional ingredients might include seafood, ginger, and scallion, the most common choice of vegetable to add to this pancake is shredded cabbage. Surprisingly, Worcestershire sauce is favored as a seasoning instead of the traditional soy. But everyone's favorite condiment for this dish is Japanese Kewpie mayo which is generously squirted on top. Kewpie mayo is the top-selling brand of mayo in Japan and it's a little sweeter than the American version -- and a little thicker because it is made with egg yolks (instead of whole eggs).   Often served as a street food snack in Japan, the pros

New Pop-up Event: Greek Sunset in Santorini

A new pop-up dinner experience has been scheduled for Sunday, September 17, 2023. This time, we will be visiting the Greek Island of Santorini for a six-course meze dinner complete with imported wine pairings all evening long. This pop-up dinner is part of our on-going series of international prix fixe experiences complete with wine pairings all evening long. Since the recent closing of Chicago's legendary Santorini in Greektown, it's becoming even more challenging to experience authentic Greek food the way it's meant to enjoyed — random morsels of tasty bites served in no particular order along with some great Greek wines and a shot of Ouzo. In Greece, this is called a meze dinner -- a complete meal of small bites or appetizers without any main dishes.  Tonight's fantasy Greek meze dinner takes place on an imaginary terraced restaurant overlooking the village of Oia on Santorini, the most picturesque and most visited of all the Greek islands. Imagine a table full of

Reminder: Urbana Park District Fall Registration Starts on August 2, 2023

As we wrap up the summer season of my "Flavor Principles of Ethnic Cooking" series, I'm starting to test recipes for the fall season which starts on September 21, 2023. But here's a more important date: August 2, 2023 . Mark your calendar as this is the first day registration opens for all fall events at Urbana Park District. From past experience, we know that this series sells out fast. Even though we've increased the seating to 12 people per class, we anticipate this series selling out within days.  The "Flavor Principles of Ethnic Cooking" is a very popular long-running series of classes at Urbana Park District's Phillips Recreation Center. The class meets on Thursdays from 6–8pm and the tuition is $40–$75 per person which includes a full two-course dinner along with wine and beer tastings.  The sixth season of these long-running "dinner party-style" cooking classes will continue in the fall when we visit Palestine, the Czech Republic

New Recipe: Maguro Zuke Don (marinated tuna sushi bowl)

Poke bowls are all the rage these days. Based on the Hawaiian dish called Ahi Poke, this marinated raw tuna treat was inspired by the authentic Japanese version called Maguro Zuke Don ( see recipe ). This one of the many Japanese "small plates" that we will serving on July 16, 2023 at the "Bullet Train to Osaka" pop-up dinner.  This easy-to-make dish looks beautiful and tastes wonderful. The marinade is pretty typical Asian soy-ginger-garlic based. Add some lemon juice and a little spiciness and you've got a perfect complement to raw tuna. Throw in some red and green onions for some zing. Garnish with avocado for a Californian twist and you've got a great summertime treat. Where do you get fresh raw tuna in the Midwest? Trust me, you don't want to eat "fresh" raw tuna that's been traveling many days and thousands of miles on boats, planes, and trucks. What you really want is tuna that has been processed and cryogenically frozen on