Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaped though back-to-back February dinners!

Good news, friends...monthly dinners in my apartment have continued with success, and this past weekend, I hosted the first back-to-back evening dinners of the year. What a feat, and I spent more time in my tiny kitchen on a beautiful day in DC (in FEBRUARY!) than I normally would, but I accomplished what I've only dreamt of before.

For February, I made a few key changes to the ambiance, offerings, and execution. As well, items on the menu were a completely new recipe or departures from what I knew, and for the first time, both Saturday and Sunday nights were fully booked.

Dinner was a three-course meal over two and a half hours, and it featured an endive and orange salad, followed by braised lamb with cauliflower au gratin and green beans, and for dessert, I proudly baked a three-layer carrot cake with caramelized pineapple and cream cheese frosting, which was complemented by garnished gelato, served a la carte.

The photos below provide brief insight, but the dining experience is truly, sincerely, and tastefully better with each course, in a bowl or plated, in front of you, and five other wonderful humans around the table sharing it with you. Oh, and wine pairings make dinner only that much better.

A few final notes before the photos below:
  • Menus for March and April dinners will be posted this week. The March menu will feature fish (no meat products), and April will be entirely vegetarian. 
  • Dinners for the next two months are March 19th & 20th, and April 23rd & 24th. At this time, there is availability on Sunday, March 20th, and Sunday, April 24th. Both Saturday dinners (March 19th and April 23rd) have been fully booked. Wait list only.
  • FUN FACT: Beginning May 21st and 22nd, I will have space for up to EIGHT guests each night.
To reserve a night for up to six spaces, please email me: Additional dates available further out, and for up to eight guests, are May 21st & 22nd and June 25th & 26th. And now, enjoy what went down over the weekend:

Lamb shanks before braising.

The Tiny Kitchen.

Browning the first set of shanks.

Lamb shanks for six!

Sunday night guests: Nima and Kelsey.

First course plating.

French and Belgian endive salad with blood oranges and a house-made vinaigrette.

Main course plating!

Braised lamb shank with cauliflower au gratin and lemon garlic green beans. 
(green sauce also pictured: mint chimichurri).

Sharing the ingredients with diners Carla and Karim on their dinner.

Dessert prep!

Three-layer carrot cake with caramelized pineapple and a surprise a la carte vanilla gelato with chocolate chips and pineapple.

Guests for Sunday, February 28th (L-R): Claire, Karim, Carla, Vivian, Kelsey, and Nima.

Stay tuned for menus for March and April - coming soon!

Monday, February 1, 2016

January 2016 dinner is a wrap.

If I had to use one word to describe the experience I had cooking for my January guests for the first monthly dinner, it would be gratitude.

I was nervous embarking on this endeavor. And since I operated on my own, I was constantly in my own head about every single aspect, almost obsessively. But you know what, I made it happen, and while the possibilities and variables around its execution rested solely on my shoulders, success was ultimately defined by my guests and their experience.

I am so grateful to my five dinner guests: they were patient, loving, and even braved Storm Jonas on a Sunday night (January 24th). I also found an additional level of confidence through their encouragement, compassion, and support--before, during, and after the dinner--so it absolutely could not have been a success, nay a dinner, without guests. Thank you, friends.

This is Chez Spa.
So come eat.

Brussels Sprouts Mash. Seasonal Fruit Tart Tatin also pictured.
Photo by Jess Lennon

Dinner guests Jess and Andrew. 
Photo by Jess Lennon

Dinner guests Brent and Ilana.
Photo by Jess Lennon.

Orange Roasted Beet Salad with Rocket Greens, Goat Cheese, House-made Vinaigrette.
Photo by Jess Lennon.

Appetizer presentation. 
Photo by Jess Lennon.

Utica Greens Stuffed Veal, Brussels Sprouts Mash, Seasonal Vegetable Bake.
Photo by Jess Lennon.

Seasonal Fruit Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (not pictured). 
Photo by Jess Lennon.

The first guests for 2106 monthly dinners (L-R): Jess, Ilana, Andrew, Rebecca, and Brent.
Photo by Jess Lennon.