Sunday, May 25, 2014

S.V.Underground Pop-Up Game of Thrones Themed Dinner

It sure sounds like a mouthful, and it was. Based in Silicon Valley, chef Gale Tan hosts secret themed dinners at locations only revealed a couple of nights before the event to the lucky few who nab reservations. When I received an email announcing a Game of Thrones themed dinner, I decided to try it out with my husband Brad, a big GOT fan.

Businesspeople know that scarcity makes things more valuable in people’s minds. S.V.Underground dinners play up on that idea. They also tap into the mystery of secret locations, as well as the uniqueness of a one-of-a-kind, never to be repeated meal. Gale hosts ten pop-up dinners a year, and they sell out within a couple of days after announced in her emails.

This meal promised to feature an elaborate menu of items inspired by GOT using fresh, local, organic, seasonal, and foraged ingredients. The menu looked enticing and I couldn’t clearly imagine what any of the dishes would taste like:

Lannister Goat Cheese, Walla Walla Onion and Sweet Pepper Potato Pie
Piment d’Espelette, Cowgirl Creamery Goat Gouda and Feta
Meyer Lemon, Rangpur Lime and Coone Valley Thyme Marmalade

Tyrion's Orange and Wild Strawberry Lemonsweet
Castle Black's Dairy Free Creamy Chestnut, Macoun Apples
and Chickpea Soup
Pureed Apple Gelee, Pine Nuts

Cersei’s Lemon Sponge Cakelets
Yuzu Infused Pearls
Salladhor Saan’s Mulled N.A. Wine
Daenarys’ Chilled Atkins Ranch Lamb, Tangerine Lace
and Wild Berries Salad
Red Micro Shiso and Ruby Radish
Baby Microgreens, Arugula and Frisee,
Blood Orange, Mint and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dragonstone Caramelized Green Apple and Basil Granita
Granny Smith Apples, Micro Basil
Hibiscus Crystals

The Red Keep's Sausage Stuffed Cornish Game Hen
with Sweetgrass, Firepods, Honey and Milk Glaze
Joffrey's Aromatic Forbidden Black Rice
Nasturtiums and Borage Blooms
Margaery’s Edible Flowers, Cinnamon and Spice Tart
Black Sesame Saint Germaine Puree
Sansa’s Sweet Biscuits

We showed up at the secret location in Palo Alto promptly as instructed. About thirty other diners joined us in a cozy and communal table setting. We were wondering if anyone would come in costume, but no one did since the focus was more on the food than cosplay.The communal setting worked nicely and we enjoyed meeting some interesting, lovely people who also enjoyed trying new food and drink.

Each dish dazzled in a different way, all tasted unusual and good, and looked wonderful on the plate. Chef Gale’s unexpected way of combining flavors and textures made each dish worth paying attention to. She explained how she liked combining unlike flavors and elements together, like putting her french fries into soft serve ice cream when she was a kid. Sweet and savory, creamy and chewy, fruity and meaty, tart and nutty, the meal unfolded as a culinary adventure from one dish to the next. I enjoyed the artistic embellishments such as colorful edible flowers, a sweep of black sesame puree to garnish the spice cake, and strawberry boba in a refreshing orange-lemon drink. Everything was gluten-free too, although I wouldn’t have realized that if I hadn’t been told.

It was fun to experience a meal that only thirty-two of us will ever have, to enjoy some innovative and special dishes that I could not have imagined, to eat it in such an unusual place (a church!) with people who all appreciated the meal, and to be served by a chef who obviously enjoyed creating her tasty and playful concoctions for our pleasure.

If this sounds like something you would enjoy trying one day, sign up for the S.V.Underground mailing list and you’ll receive notice of future themed dinners. It’s a unique, fun, and delicious adventure worth trying!