Cincinnati Supper Club: First dinner
Originally uploaded by dynamist.
Within a couple of days of arriving in Cincinnati, I felt the urge to start a structured but informal group whose members would take turns hosting an evening meal once a month. The only problem was, I didn’t know a soul in this city.
Then this guy wrote his newspaper column in the Cincinnati Post about me, and suddenly I knew quite a few people. Within hours, the Cincinnati Supper Club was born.
Wednesday night was our first gathering, at my apartment. I don’t have a proper dining room set-up yet (I’ve got the tables, but no real dining chairs), so only a few people could eat at table; the rest of us ate from trays or our laps. I might actually keep this format for the suppers I host, as it gave everyone the chance to move around and mingle while they ate.
So what did I make? Red Thai chicken curry, chickpea curry, couscous with toasted pine kernels, and a new dish: roasted broccoli and cauliflower with pancetta and parmesan. I cut the vegetables into florets, put the broccoli into one pan and the cauliflower into another (in a single layer), sprinkled minced garlic on top, drizzled over some olive oil, and topped with pancetta I had fried until half-crispy. This baked at 400F for 25 minutes, then came out and was sprinkled generously with parmesan. (Thanks, Elise, for the inspiration! I added the pancetta as a last minute thing, figuring that there’s no dish that cannot be improved with the addition of pork products.) I also made a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, capers, and my homemade honey mustard dressing.
For dessert, I assembled a bastardised version of strawberry shortcake: I tore two angel food cakes into chunks and dumped a pound or so of strawberries on top. (I’d sliced the berries and let them macerate in Splenda and a bit of balsamic vinegar for a couple of days, which really brought out the flavour.) I then whipped a fair amount of cream and spread that on top. And because no gathering is complete without chocolate, I offered chocolate chip cookies which had been freshly baked by my local deli, Silverglade’s, that morning.
All in all, it was a great success, and I am still surprised that I managed to gather such a lively and diverse crowd for the first meal of the club’s existence. In attendance we had a journalist, two photographers, two architects, a former university professor, a hospital worker, a museum executive, and a former Miss Teen Ohio. I can’t wait to see who turns up at next month’s supper.