Lotus Eater SF


In November, we did a Silk Road themed dinner called Caravanserais. We thought it would make for an interesting menu to feature foods from some of the different countries that were prominent along these trade routes. A caravansary, or caravanserai, was an inn or a rest stop, where those traveling by caravan often stopped to feed and water their animals, feed themselves and get some rest. We thought of this dinner as a caravansary of our own, more modern and westernized, but an outpost for people to come eat and drink, nonetheless.

As guests arrived we served two passed hors d’oeuvres. The first was Kashmiri paneer– cubes of firm, fresh cheese coated in deep, Indian spices and then sauteed. The second was Kuku, an herb packed egg pancake that is baked and sliced. It’s part frittata, part crepe and all delicious!

Once all of the guests had arrived, they were asked to be seated and the meal commenced. Since the Silk Road began in China during the Han dynasty, we thought this would be an appropriate place to start our meal, with the rest of the menu featuring foods from different countries along the route.

caravan 1

The amuse bouche kicked off the dinner with a dish based in the food of Xian, which was not only the region of China where the Silk Road actually began, but also a region often referred to as the birthplace of dumplings. For this, we decided to do our own take on a Chinese dumpling. We thought a soup dumpling would be cool, and although the soup dumpling originated in Shanghai, we exercised a little artistic license and went for it anyway. Our version turned out to be a Chinese tea dumpling, a tender chicken dumpling that burst with a liquid black tea filling when bitten into. I’m pretty sure we invented this, as I’ve never seen anything like it before. We kept the other flavors in the dumpling simple, just a little bit of fresh ginger, garlic and cilantro, so that the tea flavor really shined through. The dumpling was garnished simply with chopped chives and spicy red pepper threads.

caravan 2

For the appetizer, we created a mezze plate served with flatbread and featuring dips and salads from different countries. The plate consisted of a smoky, Punjabi eggplant dip, an Uzbeki shredded radish and pomegranate salad, a Greek fillo pastry stuffed with feta cheese and leeks, topped with honey and sesame seeds, and a creamy, Turkish celery root dip topped with a sprinkling of sumac.

caravan 3

The soup course featured an Iranian pistachio soup and an Iraqi sweet and sour pumpkin soup. The two were served in one bowl, side by side, and garnished with orange scented pistachios and a swirl of yogurt.

caravan 4

The entree was an unusual, yet tasty mash up of foods from Italy and India. Adam made a batch of amazing, saffron infused linguine,

AC pasta caravan entree

that was accompanied by Kashmiri spiced goat meatballs in yogurt sauce, a crispy vadouvan curry spiced granola and microgreens.

caravan 5

The dessert, a chestnut cream tart, also had its roots in Italy. For this we made a crumbly wheat germ-graham cracker crust that was lightly coated with a layer of very bitter chocolate ganache. That was topped with a luscious chestnut cream (more like a pudding, really) and the tart was topped with gorgeous little red wine poached Seckel pears. To cut through the rich flavors of the tart, it was accompanied by tangy, whipped creme fraiche and rosemary poached dried cranberries.

caravan 6       caravan 6a

caravan 6b

Most our dinners conclude with a small plate of delectables, and this meal was no exception.

caravan 7

For the mignardise plate, we decided to feature some of the commodities that were commonly found and traded along the Silk Route. We made a jasmine tea ice cream lollipop, a chocolate-orange gold coin and a gummy gemstone infused with cinnamon and bourbon. We added on a little black sesame brownie to represent the black death, or plague, that also traveled along these routes, and at certain times was rampant, and had a devastating impact. Thankfully, the impact of our dinner was more positive with stuffed bellies and sated palates being the worst of it.

L’art Pour L’art

In early August we presented our fourth dinner, L’art Pour L’art. We were very excited to feature guest pastry chef, Steven Ciccone, and very lucky to have professional photographer, Gustavo Fernandez, taking pictures for us. Each of them generously donated their time and talents to the event. This was obviously an art themed meal and gave us yet another opportunity for some creative fun.

For this dinner, we decided to try something different and started a bit earlier in the evening, so that we could offer a cocktail hour before the meal. We felt that this was an opportunity for all of the guests to mingle and get to know one another, and a chance for us to throw some more food into the mix. We also figured that since this was an art themed meal, it would be a shame if we didn’t offer a little bit of interactive art play for our guests. So while the guests drank their champagne and met each other, they also each got the chance to decorate their own chocolate bars. They didn’t know exactly what they were doing, they were just instructed to use the different colors of “paint” (colored chocolate) to decorate one of the rectangular molds and told that they would find out what it was all about at the end of the dinner. They all seemed to have a lot of fun with this!

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner     2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

While our guests played and imbibed, we passed around two hors d’oeuvres for their grazing pleasure. The first was a tray of bite sized reuben sandwiches that we added bacon and sauteed apples to, and called them Francis Bacon-Billy Apple-Peter Paul Rubens. The second, was called A Surrealist Homage To Dali’s Still Life: Watermelon (which was one of Dali’s early cubist paintings, and we thought it fitting to throw in a surrealist twist.) For these we hollowed out Green Zebra tomatoes (small, golf ball sized, tart-acidic tomatoes) and filled them with a gazpacho gelee- a gazpacho that had been firmed up using gelatin (we intentionally used a Spanish dish to honor Dali’s heritage.) They were topped with black sesame seeds that looked just like tiny watermelon seeds.

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After the cocktail hour, we invited the guests to be seated, so that we could begin the meal. Here is the menu:

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

Dinner began with an amuse bouche that we called Jackson Pollock Cakes. These were tiny pollock and crab cakes served on a Pollock-esque sauce splattered plate. The sauces were beet puree, balsamic reduction and chive oil.

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2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

The next course was the soup, called Picasso’s Yellow Period, and as you can see, everything in the bowl was a different hue of yellow. This featured a chilled corn soup with a variety of garnishes including pickled mustard seeds, bell peppers, golden beets, freeze dried corn, zucchini threads, preserved lemon, wax beans, yellow chives and turmeric oil. The guests were served the bowl with the garnishes first, and then each given their own small pitcher of soup to pour over.

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2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

Our next course was called Pop Art Pop Tart. This was a fig and bacon pop tart cut into a classic, pop art caption bubble shape. It was topped with a piece of thin goat cheese that we painted the word “pop” onto with food coloring, and then sprinkled it with colored salt, to make it look like the colored sugar found on top of store bought pop tarts. The sauce was a puree of oil cured olives and arugula. The background for the plates was achieved by using egg tempera , an egg yolk-food coloring based medium that we then air brushed onto each plate using a dotted template for precise uniformity.

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner     2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner    2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

The entree was our take on a still life painting called Still Life With Chicken. We created the base, or baskets, with fillo dough,

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

and placed one on each plate. The baskets were then filled with buttermilk potato puree, edamame succotash, sliced chicken breast and a rosemary infused peach compote. The dish was topped off with toasted pecans and an assortment of fresh greens, herbs, flowers and champagne grapes.

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2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

Our guest pastry chef, Steven Ciccone, took over for the dessert course. He called this The Flavors of Anthony Benedetto’s Golden Gate Bridge and it was a tribute to a painting done by Tony Bennett (aka, Anthony Benedetto.) This was a warm chocolate ganache filled eclair with a baked-on macaron topping, whipped cream and macerated blueberries. It was served with mango sorbet atop raspberry coulis and garnished with some crispy, sparkly chocolate and an edible mini-version of the painting to which the dessert was paying homage.

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At the end of the meal, the guests were treated to giant, dark chocolate dipped strawberries.

2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

Then, as they departed, each guest was instructed to grab their chocolate creations, which had magically been turned into beautiful, unique chocolate bars

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that were packaged and labeled, so that everybody could find their own creation.

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2014.08.09 Lotus Eater SF Dinner

The dinner received rave reviews from guests and art critics alike.











After our second themed pop up dinner, Unhinged, we decided that creating meals around a specific subject was not only a really fun way for us to approach our pop ups, but also a way for us to distinguish ourselves from the other pop ups around town. Thanks go out to my mom for suggesting the theme for our third dinner, Sanctioned.

Sanctioned featured dishes from countries that the U.S. has economic sanctions, or embargoes, against. We did quite a bit of research and recipe testing for this dinner because we wanted to maintain the integrity of each dish (most of which were unfamiliar to us when we started,) and at the same time put our own twist on things.


sanctioned menu

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On March 22nd, we presented our second pop up dinner. This one was called, Unhinged, and the theme of the dinner was, believe it or not, mental illness. It was a tough topic to work with, particularly because we wanted to be certain that we were sensitive to the subject matter, and that no part of the dinner would insult or offend anyone. We created a multiple course meal where each course related to a different mental disorder in some way. Some courses were a play on the name of the disorder itself (i.e. with Seasonal Affective Disorder we played with the seasonings in the dish,) while others were plays on the symptoms, or effects of, the disorders (i.e. for Schizophrenia, we presented a dish that appeared to be one thing, but was actually another, as delusion and hallucinations are often associated with schizophrenia.) And still other courses related to the actual definition of the disorder (i.e. for Oedipus Complex, we served a beef and veal tartare.) We had a tremendous amount of fun researching and creating this meal, and were pretty excited about the way it turned out.


straitjacket1 straitjacket2 straitjacketmenu unhinged menu

A paper straitjacket, with the Unhinged menu tucked inside, was placed at each guests seat.


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Le Pop Up

In June of 2013, I was finishing up a two week, European work trip in Paris (rough job, I know,) and Adam had decided to meet me there so we could travel together. Food obsessed as we both are, and Paris obsessed as I am, we had started researching the trip months before our departures. Not surprisingly, the list of restaurants we wanted to try far exceeded the actual number of meals that we would be in Paris for, so we had to seriously whittle down the list. We knew that we wanted to treat ourselves to at least one Parisian fine dining experience, but with the weak dollar and the price of upscale dining in Paris, we also knew that it was not going to be cheap…and that is how our first pop up dinner, Le Pop Up, came to be.

Outpost India Basin had been used for a few events by that point, but Adam and I had yet to do a dinner of our own. It was the perfect opportunity to do our first dinner together and to use the proceeds to help pay for our fancy-pants dinner in Paris. Giving the dinner a French theme was the obvious choice, so we combined that with local, seasonal produce, and this is what we came up with:


Chilled, glazed oyster

Chilled, glazed oyster

The amuse, a chilled, glazed Marin Miyagi oyster, was a play on a similar dish I had eaten at Guy Savoy restaurant, in Paris, many years before. A freshly shucked oyster is placed on a bed of oyster puree and then dotted with chive flowers, lemon zest and scallion rings and covered with an oyster liquor gelée.

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Lotus Eater SF

It began with a simple idea. Adam put a tremendous amount of work into transforming the space, which started as an empty warehouse,

outpost construction outpost construction2

and blossomed into a cozy meeting place, called Outpost India Basin.

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