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Winter Wonderland: A Look Into
Chef Amy’s Culinary Adventures
By Nelah _____
We all know that underground pop-up dinners are taking over the Los Angeles food scene and you all know how much of a fan I am for such dinners. So, when I got an invitation to attend one of Chef Amy’s Underground Dinners, Winter Wonderland, I was quite excited. While Chef Amy didn’t start off with a cooking career, her love for food started at a very early age. Leaving her job as a TV marketing executive, she decided to pursue her true passion and start a full-service catering business. Along with her catering business, her infatuation with the underground dining scene gave birth to her “bootleg restaurant” or, my favorite term, “food raves.”
The dinner was held at a photo studio that had high ceilings. The space, decorated according to the theme, really felt like a winter wonderland. It was as if I stepped into Narnia, but surrounded by food – haha. By the time we arrived, the room was filled with people. We were a little late (yes, parking in LA sucks), but still early enough to sample the appetizers.
fondue with swiss cheese and bacon bits
The servers were passing around three appetizers, the potato latke was my favorite, obviously. The fondue was close, but I really do love my carbs. My dining companion’s first latke was burned on the bottom, but was still flavorful. I think we could’ve had a whole plate of these, each! Even though the potato was our favorite, I really enjoyed the flavor of the shrimp and the texture of the filo.
While we were waiting for our first course to come out, we discovered the amazing garlic butter. Do you see the picture above? Yes, I put a LOT of butter on my tiny piece of bread. It was THAT good. It was the holiday season… who’s going to judge me?
course 1: goat cheese and beet salad
Our first course was a goat cheese and beet salad, a salad that is on almost every restaurant menu in Los Angeles. Even though I’ve eaten this salad a gazillion times, I still really enjoy it. The fact that I love beets and cheese might have something to do with it. I thought the presentation was whimsical, but the beets were a little tough to cut. The flavors of the creamy goat cheese and the hearty beets was, of course, a great combination. This course was paired with a 2009 Viognier provided by Monte De Oro Winery. The wine was very fruity and easy to drink. I would have preferred a more dry and crisp wine with the first course, but that is just my personal preference.
course 2: lobster bisque
Next up was the soup course, the lobster bisque. When the soups were coming out, my nose immediately perked up. The smell was intoxicating. The lobster was lovely and beautifully cooked. The soup on its own was a tad salty, but when paired with the 2006 Merlot, it was fantastic. The slight fruitiness and smooth finish of the merlot balanced out the saltiness in the dish. I really enjoyed this pairing and my favorite dish of the night.
course 3: filet mignon, mashed potatoes, haricot vert
Our main course was a filet mignon paired with a 2006 Syrah. The filet was incredibly tender and extremely flavorful. However, my favorite thing on this plate was the mashed potatoes. Yes, I love my potatoes and these were exceptional! I also really enjoyed the texture of the haricot verts, a nice contrast to the creamy potatoes. The spicy notes in the full-bodied Syrah stood up well with the bold flavors of the dish – another successful pairing.
course 4: bread pudding, pumpkin cotton candy
The last course of the night was the bread pudding with pumpkin cotton candy paired with a 2006 Zinfandel. This dish really took me to a winter and hoilday state of mind. Living in Los Angeles, it is difficullt to feel and see the seasons, but this dish gave me a glimpse of what a white christmas would be like. The cotton candy had a lot of pumpkin flavor and the bread pudding was also fantastic. The sweet and spicy notes from the Zinfandel complemented the flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon so well. It was a fabulous end to a great meal. I’ve never been to an underground dinner this size, I’ve only been to much smaller ones. After having this experience, I have to say my dining companion and I really enjoyed ourselves. Not only was the space and decorations beautiful, but the high energy of the people was contagious. You can’t come here and not enjoy yourself. I had a wonderful time all thanks to Jackie and Chef Amy!