I had the luck to attend one of chef David Anthony Temple's Underground Dinners. Temple began his career in Louisiana and traveled around the world before settling here in Dallas, where he started working with Tom Spicer. His passion is using the best local and regional ingredients to make dishes that people both enjoy and are surprised by. These days he's focusing on these Underground Dinners, which have changing menus and a secret location.
The event I attended was a nine-course chef's tasting menu highlighting seasonal and rare foods. The theme was travel. "I will be taking your palate on a trip through the cities that influenced my cooking," Temple explained. "Each course will be a representation of my time spent in that city and my favorite dish in that place."
Here's a lowdown of what was served:
Birth: Baton Rouge and New Orleans Crab AuGratin with Tiger's Blood and Garden Chive
Child: Richmond, Virginia Virginia Pork Belly with Bay Scallop and Basil Oil
Teenage: Shreveport Crawfish Gumbo with Trinity Ragout
Growth: Dallas Spiceman's Salad Greens with Plum Thia Vin
Glamour: Las Vegas Seared Lamb and Yellowfoot Shrooms with Cous Cous Carbonara
Freedom: San Diego Fresh Uni of Coronado Island with Green Tea Rice and Wasabi
Border Jumping: Tijuana, Mexico Pork Tamale with Sweet Corn Puree
Paradise: Hawaii Sashimi of Hamachi with Hamachi Poke
Present: East Ellum PB&J Pistachio Butter and Raspberry Crisp with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
The food was stellar. I think my favorite was the lamb, although the pork tamale and dessert were pretty tough to forget too. Perhaps even better than the food was the whole experience.
You get an email announcing the dinner and how many people they can take that night. You email back that you intend to go and once it's full, it's full. Temple doesn't reveal the location until the last minute and then swears you to secrecy.
The setting turned out to be really cool, with a sort of an art gallery, courtyard, loft vibe going. I know it's a crap shoot, but we lucked out people wise and ended up going out with our dinner companions and newfound friends after the event because we enjoyed their company so much.
It's BYOB and cash only, and the menus are at Temple's whim, so it's definitely for food adventurers only.
If you want to try a less secret Temple dinner and do a good deed at the same time, you might want to check out his Slow Food Dinner on April 26. It'll be a five-course tasting menu focusing on fresh, seasonal, local vegetables paired with fish. Like all of his dinners, the event is BYOB. Tickets are $75 a person and there are only 30 tickets available.
All proceeds go to Slow Food Dallas, a nonprofit group that "educates people about how their food choices affect the rest of the world." The national campaign has more than 80,000 members all over the world. Here in Dallas, they've gotten the land for a community garden in 5-Points and are now working on a site plan and logistics like renting equipment to clear the land, how they're going to water it, etc.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting here.