Cooking 'off the menu'
Have you heard of the Off the Menu series? It's a series of dinners hosted by the Asia Society in the Bay Area to explore the transformation of Asian cuisines. The first dinner in the series (in November 2005) was hosted by Charles Phan, of the famed Slanted Door, featuring unusual and intricate Vietnamese dishes normally not feasible (or sellable) on his usual menu –hence the title 'Off the Menu'. Subsequent dinners kept to that theme, and have included everything from 'snapping turtle stew' to the relatively normal stuffed pig's trotter, all cooked up by local Bay Area chefs. 7x7 Magazine last year called this event 'the hottest ticket in town'.
There's another Off the Menu dinner on the horizon that I want to tell you about. The theme is 'Curry across Asia'. The menu will feature curries from Indonesia, China, India, and, of course, Thailand, and there will also be a panel discussion exploring the complex flavors, local foodways, and the many faces of what we call 'curry'.
And joining the pros –Alex Ong of Betelnut, Daniel Sudaryanto of the upcoming Red Lantern, Ruta Kahate of Ruta's Kitchen- is yours truly! Crazy, huh? I guess so. I'm not quite sure what possessed me to agree to this. But what's done is done, and come Friday March 30th, I will be doing my take on a Thai curry for the lucky 60 diners at the event. And, true to the off the menu theme, I promise you it will be something you won't find at your corner Thai restaurant.
The tickets are on sale now at the Asia Society in San Francisco. You can also call them at 415-421-8707. See you there!