This past Sunday, a group of us were six of the lucky 40 folks to nab tickets to a "hip" six course menu put on by Plum Luv Foods at Butcher's Best in Newtown, CT, showcasing sustainable local produce, seafood and grassfed meats. This was a sold-out event, even after adding ten more tickets than had been sold at previous dinners.
For the past few months, Chef Plum and Sous Chef Kern have been hosting Underground Dinner ("pop-up dinners") in Connecticut, where they take over a space for the evening, and prepare dinner in a casual, local setting.
No one in our group had ever been to a pop-up dinner, but we knew we were in for a fun night when we were greeted with a glass of bubbly champagne with local blueberries as soon as we walked in the door.
Take a peek at the menu ~ this particular evening, Chef Plum showcased grass-fed meats from Shiregate Family Farm (carried by Butcher's Best), local grown produce (from Farming 101 and Holbrook Farm), and fresh fish and oysters caught right off the Connecticut shoreline.
Positive vibes resonated throughout the night as Chef Plum popped out of the kitchen in between courses to introduce his creations, highlighting the source of each ingredient, and thoughtfully explaining how each dish came together.
Chef Plum's out-of-the-box creativity showed through in a cool Vietnamese style Rice Paper Spring Roll that was unexpectedly stuffed with Grassfed Beef and Napa Cabbage Salad, and served with a Grilled Peach Sauce and Baby Beet Greens.
The Smoked Avocado Salsa served on top of grilled fluke, freshly caught off the shoreline in Stonington, Connecticut, was a big hit at our table. The contrast between the sweetness of this mild fish and the smokiness of the avocado really played to the senses.
The most decadent dish on the menu was definitely the Pork Belly Mac and Cheese with Tomato Confit. This was a playful re-creation of one of Chef Plum's childhood memories - Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with his favorite condiment, ketchup (he's come a long way!).
The finale was Blueberry Shortcake Sushi. To be completely honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when I first spotted this on the menu, but it was a big "Wow" at our table. Chef Plum's whimsically presented a sushi style dessert, styling a cake roll filled with fresh whipped cream and blueberries, served with blackberry purée, green tinted fresh whipped butter (from Arathusa Farm) and candied ginger.
Bringing the concept of an underground or pop-up dinner that supports local businesses while promoting sustainability to this small community in Connecticut is something Plum Luv Foods should be proud of. It's a great opportunity to help raise awareness of all the fresh and sustainable foods that are available locally, and to show how good real food can be.
Take a look behind the scenes...
Chef Plum and Sous Chef Justin Kern
Sous Chef Kern plating the Blueberry
Plum LuvFoods will be hosting their next Dinner Underground at the Williams Sonoma store in Danbury, Connecticut on August 18, 2013. Be sure to check it out if you're in the area. Follow Chef Plum on Twitter to find out when tickets come out for his next event.
* All photos were taken by and used with the express permission of Karlee Kern.