I photographed a preview dinner for The Eatery Project last week. Perfect strangers were to eat and discuss innovative, fresh, delicious food. I practically jumped up and down, clapping my hands like a trained seal, for this opportunity!
Guests were welcomed into the commercial kitchen with a pink grapefruitade with mint tapioca balls (aka Boba). This cleansed their palettes nicely for the salted, rosemary, scone wafer served with a dollop of creamy, whipped butter and sweet, blackberry jam. Next up was an arugula, feta, date salad with a honey chamomile vinaigrette. This is what I mean by “innovative” – have you ever heard of chamomile in a vinaigrette?
Now for the heavy hitters! My favorite dish of the evening was a Chilean sea bass with Japanese, pickled vegetables and a beurre blanc, dill sauce. Chef Anahita used great restraint in limiting sauces, spices and ingredients to only those that enhanced the food rather than disguising it. I couldn’t imagine what might follow this sumptuous morsel of heaven. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the braised chicken with spiced tomato and garbanzo bean sauce over buttered green beans, slivered almonds and a mound of quinoa. It was a steaming, comforting bowl of goodness.
Alas, there had to be an end to this meal… and it was worth every bite. The dessert was a tower of baked apple, cardamom ice cream and a salted shortbread cookie. In case you’re unfamiliar with cardamom, it smells like a combination of orange, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s my new favorite spice!
The Eatery Project is the first restaurant concept by Betty Lang and Chef Anahita. Weekly Tuesday and Thursday dinners are held in Costa Mesa at their test kitchen. Seating is limited, so reserve your seats in advance. The $38 menu I photographed will be served again on December 18th, 2012 (tomorrow). This chef is going to explode in popularity. Don’t miss this opportunity to interact with her in the intimacy of her kitchen.
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