Flavor Excursions – Dame Mas Por Favor!

The Supper club scene is picking up some serious steam in Atlanta folks. With the success of Asha Gomez (see Cardamom Hill) and The Four Coursemen (http://www.thefourcoursemen.com), relative new comers Push Start Kitchen, Baton Supper Series and Flavor Excursions look to raise the bar and offer an alternative to your average dining out experience. Chef Hopeton Hibbert brought his Flavor Excursions series to life in January and as the name implies, his goal is to immerse his guests in the region/cooking style he chooses to highlight; each dinner will be very different, but always adventuresome! Similar to The Four Coursemen, there is no advance preview of the dishes, only a hint at the region that will be highlighted!  Different locations will be chosen to host the dinners based on the theme and the menu.  Chef Hopeton is a veteran chef who has worked in many Atlanta restaurants including Loca Luna, Café Circa and Eclipse De Luna just to name a few; he has traveled the globe learning about and experimenting with different food cultures, and brings all of this experience into each service.  The February event featured dishes from Spain; two main courses with several tapas (at one count there were about 15 different dishes…wow!).

First Course menu…hardly one course!

This dinner was for 14 people including the host and the two chefs; the tables were arranged in a room with an open kitchen so you could talk with and watch them as they cooked…very cool.

The tables were nicely arranged and allowed for great conversation and views of the kitchen

 
Beautiful presentation!

What I’m calling the first course consisted of the aforementioned tapas: grilled octopus with olive oil and smoked paprika (which was really good and even the skeptics enjoyed), canned clams, charcuterie, cheese, cured tuna and a selection of Spanish cheeses. The charcuterie included lomo and sobrasada, which is a semi-soft chorizo spread that is the official sausage of the Balearic Islands in Mallorca and man it was tasty…imagine chorizo tartare! This, along with the great wine selections would have been worth the price of admission alone!

Cured tuna
 
Canned Galacian clams

Up next were more tasty treats including homemade pork sausage with Sauternes-poached apples, duck fritters with peaches, duck cracklings, more clams, whole shrimp in sherry and a delicious Spanish pizza (Coca) with artichoke, spinach and tomatoes…ridiculous right!

Sausage with Sauternes-poached apples

The sausage had great smoky flavor that matched perfectly with the sweetness from the apples; I could have just eaten a plate of the apples with some vanilla ice cream and been in heaven. This was followed by the fritters which appeared to be made of seasoned, ground duck; again, the sweet peaches worked well with the savory duck. By this point in the evening I had to start pacing myself because we still had over an hour to go and the rate at which the dishes were being pushed out was alarming…

Duck fritters - I'm pretty sure my cholesterol doubled by the end of the night...

 

Shrimp in sherry w/ EVOO & smoked paprika

The Shrimp in sherry was one of my favorite dishes; they were roasted head on and were incredibly tender. The juices from the cooking liquid and the punch of the smoky paprika made for a very tasty bite, and the heads were also quite edible…if you’re into that sort of thing!

Coca w/ artichokes – take small bites I kept telling myself…

Did I mention the price of this entire meal was only $40…and that included several Spanish wine options; reds and whites, including some sherry and Cava! The last hour of the meal included bacalao carpaccio, a shrimp frittata, quail escabeche, eggplant with piquillo peppers and braised rabbit.  

Bacalao – salt cod; beautiful presentation

The bacalao is dried and salted cod, which is rehydrated using milk or water. This carpaccio (super thin slices) presentation was served over potatoes and onions; it was very unique for me, having never had it prepared in this manner.

Shrimp frittata - notice the smaller portion sizes as the night goes on!

 
Eggplant & Peppers

This was one of the most enjoyable dinners I have been to in a long time and I think I can speak for the group when say everyone’s expectations were well exceeded; the quality and variety of the food, the hospitality and the company were all great!  It was very evident that Chef Hopeton put a great deal of thought into the evening and cares deeply about his craft. I really hope I get to attend future events, and if the rumors on Facebook are true, up next might be an exploration of fried chicken and sake! To find out more about Chef Hopeton and to sign up for the Flavor Excursions email see the link below:

http://www.chefhopeton.com/Untitled-3.html

 

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