Knowing no awkward situation is a quality I pride in myself. It’s why I love flying solo to supper clubs. A home-cooked meal among strangers is an exhilarating social challenge; not the case if you bring a date, a clutch during uncomfortable silences. It’s like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. You better figure out how to not be the quiet weirdo at the end of the table.
It’s not the food I crave, although I can’t recall a bad meal, as much as the novel company. For hosts and guests, it could be a recipe for disaster ranging from a nosey diner rifling through your medicine cabinet and finding (or perhaps sampling) your crazy pills to serial murder with a side of cannibalism. But the same way all meals have been successes, I’m still alive and have met many amazing people. I’m not talking about love interests; just online date for that. But single men listen up: if you want to meet a single lady, sign up for a supper club, they are packed to the brim with gorgeous women. And we all know good food goes with good you know what. And wine, of course.
Through the grapevine I heard about Brooklyn Fork & Spoon, a vegetarian supper club. I parked my bike out front, buzzed and before I had my coat off hosts Rebecka and Mardi set me up with a glass of red (always a good start). The kitchen was surprisingly calm, and the two were so talkative, which shows the level of experience and confidence they have. At other supper clubs, kitchens are often uneasily hectic while the nervousness of the chef is seeping from her pores. I remember how freaked out I was when cooking a meal for 40 at a VPC Sunday Supper. “I hope I don’t get anyone sick!” was my biggest fear. Which is partly the reason why these ladies focus on vegetarian meals. Ethics aside, they are safer, explained Mardi.
While the two were working sublimely in the kitchen, the rest of us were in the living room chatting and eating olives and cheese. Many of the guest had traveled “all the way” from Manhattan for the meal and were impressed by our wonderful neighborhood.
The lights were appropriately dim and I swore when I stuck my paws into the olive pit bowl, it was a tiny bowl of chex mix. Not! Even for the Queen of awkward that was pretty embarrassing.
We sat down to a lovely and healthy meal which began with goat cheese and balsamic fig bruschetta, followed by a refreshing salad with truffle vinaigrette, then the main course: a buttery bowl of farro leek parmesian risotto. Dessert was a creamy lemon souffle. I can overeat home cooked food like a beast and not feel disgusting. That is the kind of meal this was.
By dessert, there was a “traditional” seat switcheroo on the guests, like musical chairs but not as competitive. It’s a way to mix up the party. Before we traded places I was glad to chat it up with Amy, a crafty writer visiting from Oregon who has a great website called Angry Chicken and told me about all the amazing food trucks in Portland. After the switch it was Nick and I talking art. He works at a great art organization called Art21.org and is working on a really interesting project called NY Close-Up, a series about artists in the first decade of their careers living and working in NYC.
Brooklyn Fork and Spoon brings together all the best elements of a supper club: possibly awkward but exciting social circumstances ameliorated by wine, delicious food and great company. Their next dinner is November 12th, 2011.