Thursday, March 15, 2007

Slumming It, With Taste

TLM Dines in the Ghetto

“I love soul food,” says my friend *Pam* when I tell her that on Tuesday I experienced a Ghetto Gourmet dinner. “Where is it?” she asks, assuming a trendy and ecclectic dining spot has just opened its doors. I smile smugly (inside) that my very hip pal had no idea what I was talking about.

“It’s not a restaurant, per se, its a kind of traveling, full-sensory experience,” I tantalizingly explain. She appears miffed not to be in-the-know on this one, and I realize I’d better divulge pronto, quickly adding, “They’re in LA this month. You have to go!”

Like many revolutionary movements (hippies, internet, etc) the Ghets launched up in No-Cal. Jeremy, the artistic entrepreneur (or is it entrepreneurial artistic-type) and his brother Joe, the skater-dude-turned-culinary-artiste, invited over some friends to try out Joe’s new dishes, in their make-shift dining room (ie: basement). Their peeps liked it so much, they demanded another dinner, and showed up the following week with more people.

The brothers originally charged $20 per head to cover costs. A few creatives who couldn’t afford 20 clams were invited to sing / dance / perform poetry for their supper, providing live entertainment for the evening. Today, GG goes coast to coast and is worth the new price of $45-50 pp. Each of the soirees is unique: a different venue (home, gallery, artist studio), menu, performances, and a whole new set of guests.

I went on Tuesday, March 13 to the photography studio / apartment of Glenn Campbell who lives in an Art Deco building in Koreatown. Violinist Richard Kim played three jarringly emotional pieces, Ve the Poet Valkyrie shared prose and Nordic songs. Jeremy’s wife, who is a dancer, screened a 4-minute dance piece against the wall. And, chef Cynthia Washburn whipped up a four-course feast for 30 people in an average sized apartment kitchen. (a feat unto itself!) Get a load of this menu:

Soup – Ajo blanco with Jamon Grape Brochettes
Salad – Shaved fennel & Frisee with Pecans & Currants in Coriander Vinaigrette
Entrée – Roast rabbit wthi Sauce Verte over Asparagus and Morel Risotto & Dandelion Greens
Dessert – White Chocolate Cheesecake with Red Grapefruit Campari Compote (yes, Campari, my favorite!)

Guests bring their own wine (we brought a fabulous Italian red from Santi wines, write up coming soon…) and their own pillows. Everyone sits on the floor and eats from communal tables. I enjoyed learning about the beer pairings, Vera, one of my tablemates, brought along.

Ghetto Gourmet is in LA for another week or so: 3/16 is Vegan in Silverlake; 3/17 GG goes Irish; 3/19 GG hits NoHo; 3/22: GG slums it in Brentwood. Then they go back to the Bay Area, then Chicago, NY and DC. Check it out on their website, Daily Candy, Thrillist, and Caroline on Crack, who went on the night after me, Wednesday 3/14 in LA. f you're the artsy-yet-arrogant type, it may not be for you, however, according to Gridskipper. It attracts a mixed crowd and if everyone can be open-minded, that is part of what makes it interesting...

As for me, if this is life in the Ghetto, I’m moving in!

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