Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sauce and Bread Kitchen, The Stew - Day of the Dead Dinner

Underground Supper Clubs are a lot of fun.  You get to have some pretty good food at a place that may not necessarily be a restaurant.  While there are several that require a membership, there are also many that you can go to if you know about it and pre-pay.  Sauce and Bread Kitchen, a cafe and coffee shop in Rogers Park that also makes Co-op Hot Sauce, holds a monthly dinner called The Stew, varying themes every month.  Most of the time the dinners they hold are at the cafe, but sometimes they are elsewhere.  This month they did a dinner in their cafe based on The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration.  The cafe is small with a coffee bar on one side and seating for about 40 people.  Because they were celebrating the Day of the Dead, there were many calaveras and other Day of the Dead art throughout the dining room.  The meal started with Pan de Muerto, a traditional Mexican bread that had a skull and crossbones design in Sesame on it.  It was served on a board as a common dish with Head Cheese, Cornichons, Sambal, Castelvetrano Olives, and Quince Preserves.  The bread was soft and slightly sweet with a nice crust and a good texture.  It tore very nicely and it went well with the head cheese which had a nice pork flavor.  While I did try everything individually, what worked best for me was to eat the head cheese and sambal with the bread, finish with a pickle, and eat the olives and quince on the side.  It all had a good flavor and it was a nice start for the meal.
The rest of the dishes were served individually.  The next dish was a spin on a Ceviche.  It was served in a clear glass bowl and contained Hamachi, Grapefruit, Radish, Carrot, Star Fruit, and Black Bean Miso Powder.  The hamachi and grapefruit were both about the same color, and while they were both very tender, unless you looked closely, you really couldn't tell them apart until you put them in your mouth.  The black bean miso powder provided a savory flavor, and the radish and carrots added a nice crunch.  While it did taste good, the only real complaint I had about it was that there wasn't enough liquid that might have added a citrus flavor.
We continued with fish for our next course with Smoked Halibut.  The halibut was ground and texturally looked like the tuna fish that you might have on top of a salad although the color was different.  It was served with a Salsa Verde Reduction, Fried Huitlacoche, and Wood Sorel Micro "Greens" (I use quotes because the Wood Sorel wasn't actually green, but purple).  The huitlacoche was crispy with a flavor like a cross between corn and mushrooms.  The halibut was tender and flavorful with the salsa verde adding some tang and a little heat.  The sorel provided a little vegetal flavor, bringing the fish and salsa flavors together with the huitlacoche.
Our final savory course was Lechon Asado or Roast Pork.  In this case it was a Crispy Pork Belly served with a Chuicharron, Roast Pumpkin "Polenta", Pepitas, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Red Onions, and Micro Greens.  The pork was very good, but this very much tasted like Fall.  All of the vegetables really, provided a late fall flavor which really went well with the pork flavors from the pork belly and the crispy chicharron.
For our dessert, we had a very Mexican pastry, a Concha, a shell shaped sweet bread that uses two types of dough, which served as the outside of an Ice Cream Sandwich along with Cider Syrup.  It was sweet and dense with a couple of textures and ice cream.  The cider syrup added some tartness to something that would have just simply been sweet.  It was a nice finish to a dinner that, while not stereotypically Mexican, used a lot of Mexican ingredients and techniques.  The dinner was a lot of fun, and I would happily to return to try other dinners.  


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