I've known about Karen Mordechai's Sunday Suppers, held in a Williamsburg loft (originally also her apartment), for a long time. The blog about them was - and is - beautiful, the table long and proper, the concept of paying guests mingling with friends and cooks, with the distinctions between cooking classes and dinners blurring pleasantly was an interesting one.
A small part of me was dreading this. A roomful of strangers. But I was propped up by the sturdy Frenchman who has long, strong legs.
And I had already met Yvette van Boven, the pretty (and tall) Dutch author of the Home Made books, and her husband and collaborator, Oof Verschuren (taller) at another supper event a week before, so I knew that that part would be fine. They seemed genuinely nice and unaffected. I owned Yvette's books. And Yvette would be cooking. That was key.
The room in the loft is beautiful. Wide open and white with windows toward Manhattan, on the other side of the East River. Getting to it from the East River Ferry's dock is a bit irksome as the large old building refuses to put a street number on itself. Part of the allure, no doubt. A large marble countertop slab in the kitchen held warming drinks - apple cider spiced with cinnamon and vodka. The recipe is in the book we were there to toast: Home Made Winter. Yvette and Oof (AH-oof) were busy cooking, kitchen cloths slung over shoulders.
Supper beckoned at last, and the cooks stayed where cooks do: in the kitchen, serving bowlsful of a wonderful pumpkin soup (book).
It was a wonderful pumpkin soup*, not straying into the too-sweet zone at all, and laced with goat cheesiness and topped with fried sage leaves. The recipe? Sorry! In the book!
*Correction: I've just had look at the recipe, as I'm making it for supper tonight: it is described as "butternut puree."
Followed by crowd-pleasing porchetta (book...). I'll be making this, soon.
Dessert nearly felled me, a sticky toffee puddingish sort of thing, very good in flavour but donated in greatest part to the Frenchman, who lapped it up.
My only quibble of the evening was the lack of wine for the first course; it may have been soup, but I was parched. This was either economics or poor timing but one should never, ever, let guests be thirsty.
In every other respect, a lovely evening, from the brisk ferry ride upstream on the way there, to the strange walk through the Hasidic neighborhood to catch the G home (the ferry goes to bed early). From the first, soothing sip of punch to the autumn flower arrangements (complete with leggy pansies and overblown roses), to the understated presence of the woman who is responsible for these dinners.There was a tangible sense of hospitality, often lacking in gatherings much-touted as convivial and of-the-moment.
I was very impressed and better fed. (Actually, with my dessert in him, perhaps Vince was better fed!)