In the chef’s words:

This month’s dinner theme will be Japanese and we will serve a kyo-kaiseki inspired meal celebrating spring vegetables and local produce. Though kaiseki is often associated with multi-course meals and tea ceremonies, the word kaiseki originally had little to do with cooking or tea. Kai means “bosom” and seki means “stone,” and the term comes from the habit of buddhist monks carrying heated stones in their robes so the warmth of the stones will stave off hunger. Over the years the term has come to mean “light meals,” often to accompany tea ceremonies. We will do a few courses of simple “home-style kaiseki,” something between an elaborate course meal and heated stones.

Hassun (八寸)— “An expression of the Season”
Spring Onion Salad
Spring Vegetable Tempura
Sesame-Coated Asparagus with Pork Belly
Grilled Fava Beans and Spring Onions
Octopus and Cucumber Salad

Sendai (仙台市)— Nikka Coffey Malt, vermouth, cherry bitters

Mukozuke (向付)—Sashimi Dish
Tuna with Ginger Sauce

Izumo Fuji “Ancient Shrine” Junmai

Futamono (蓋物)— Lidded Dish
Sake-Steamed Littleneck Clams

Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto

Yakimono (焼物)—Grilled Dish
Grilled Sirloin with Miso Glaze

Gohan (御飯) — Rice
Bamboo Shoot Rice with Miso Soup and Fresh Pickles

Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai “Heart of Oak”

Mizumono (水物)— Dessert
Green Tea Kasutera with Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream

Plum Wine

Chef: Joy & Mike
Photographer: Angela

As a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, our second dinner was in the spirit of Ireland:

Irish Stout Granita with Raw Oysters

Irish Cheddar Fondue With Stout and Whiskey with Buttermilk Soda Bread

Irish Roast Salmon & Champ, Potato Yeast Rolls
COS Pithos Bianco, 2015

Guinness Pie & Creamed Kale
‘Outis’ Nessuno Etna Rosso, 2014

Ginger Stout Cake
Coole Swan Irish Cream

Chef(s): JP & Angela
Bar: Matt
Photographer: Angela

Airport Variety Store, gone

Sadly, the little cuban place that my Dad turned me on to many years ago is now a vacant lot.

Airport Variety Store (I didn’t know the name until I looked it up today) was located across from the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport. It was known for its cuban sandwiches, but my father and I would go in for the crab roll. For those not familiar with the crab roll, it is a deviled crab sort of thing they used to keep in a little food warmer on the counter. If hot sauce that was your thing, they would jam a squeeze bottle of vinegary pepper sauce in each end and give it a generous squirt. The resulting mess was wrapped in wax paper and thrown in a paper bag. It was delicious.

Update 2017-03-06: I found a blurry picture of one of these crab rolls from back in 2009. The picture doesn’t really do it any justice, but I thought a bad picture was better than no picture at all.

Crab Roll

This inaugural dinner set the bar quite high for future hosts. For this delicious taste of Catalonia, Dario pulled out all the stops. He even purchased some Spanish style wine glasses. It was like Barcelona… in Brooklyn.

Chorizo, manchego & valdeon cheeses, and olives
Yzaguirre Blanco Reserva Vermouth Spritzer

Warm Spanish Style Giant Bean Salad and Fire Roasted Peppers with Boquerones
Avinyó Cava Reserva, 2013

Almejas con Chorizo
La Caña Alberiño, 2015

Catalan Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Patatas Bravas
Camins del Priorat, 2015

Crema Catalana
Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Special Madeira

Chef(s): Dario & Matt
Photographer: Angela