When you encounter a night of fabulous food, fun and new friends, it’s pretty much like winning the lottery. But when it’s put together by food design enthusiast Misha Volf and curious chef extraordinaire Aimee Hunter, we’re talking about a whole new level of things!
Upon first learning about this experience and writing about it, I really didn’t know what to expect, I just knew it was going to be an unforgettable night… and that it was.
Driven by curious minds and palates, Misha and Aimee teamed up to produce an educational, creative, gourmet pop-up event set in a friend’s loft in Brooklyn. The meal offered diners a unique perspective allowing them into the lives of farm animals with dishes based on the ingredients in the feed of those animals. And while the menu was provocative, it was also beautifully prepared, delectable, and enlightening.
As I walked up to an indescript building in Bushwick, I could already smell the deliciousness wafting through the air as it seeped out of the windows just a few feet above. When I walked into the event, I was immediately greeted by Misha and handed a glass of a beautiful red wine to kick off the festivities.
As guests began to arrive, we mingled and chatted about the wonderful world of food and what it means to each of us. It was so awesome to be among a group of fellow gastronomically inspired people and understand food from so many perspectives.
Soon, we made our way to the trough-like table (built by Misha) and sat at our place settings, specifically selected to help us get to know one another. Our beautifully crafted menu cards displayed our names and the magnificent menu, as a small square resembling a salt lick, sat perfectly placed at each of our settings.
You see, Misha’s idea for the evening’s dinner was to help us understand where our food comes from and how we are what we eat, eats. The salt lick, and every course there after, is evocative of a cow’s life and diet. From beginning to end, the simple, yet very well laid out menu, helped you understand a cow’s diet from before it is born until the point it becomes consumable for us humans.
As Aimee cooked up and served a stunning selection of food, Misha presented it with passion and poise. He explained to the cycle to us. What we learned was that the meat we were about to eat came from a cow raised at a farm in Upstate New York during the Spring. The edible grass and flowers in front of us resembled the green pasture the calf grazes on. And what was even more fascinating were the squares of cheese wrapped in leaves, tucked away in the field in front of us, reminiscent of the first day’s milk the baby calf feeds on from his mother when he’s born.
Further into the meal, and as the calf continued to grow and the seasons continued to change, so did the tabletop landscape. As the calf grew older and Spring turned into Summer, turned into Fall, the grass was removed and all that was left was a field of (edible) soil. Soon, Aimee and her team placed fried bunches of hay, topped with a corn mix, a food the farmers often use to nourish their calves.
As the seasons continued, so did the feast, with music to match each phase of the feast – soft mellow music to start, mild tunes as we munched, and more intense, dramatic sounds as the banquet bourgeoned into greatness. It truly was fascinating the way Misha curated a night of stunning sounds, sights and bites.
Still there was more – Aimee served us piles of barley, strategically placed in the trough, and directed us to eat it with our hands using the green leaves provided to us.
Finally, the moment of truth, the calf’s demise and our ultimate delight, graced us at the table. Yes it may seem a bit tragic when you have to think of the actual animal you are eating (I certainly had an issue with it), but after Misha’s thoughtful and thorough explanation, it all made sense.
We indulged on specialty dishes prepared by Chef Aimee including beef tartar, bone marrow and even Cow’s tongue, as well as two large chunks of beef, strategically placed in the trough. We were given blue gloves for our feasting needs, and our glasses of wine were filled yet again, but many of us just dove right in.
As we commented, conversed and connected over this fabulous feast, in a matter of hours, we all had a new perspective on food – how we eat it, why we eat it, and how we feel about it. Overall, it was an enlightening, entertaining, and excellently executed event where I met a ton of great new fellow foodie friends. This was just Misha’s first gathering of the like, but I certainly looking forward to the next one. Until then my foodie friends!