A rainy Thursday night bus ride takes me to a Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco. Walking down the wet street I see a figure back lit by an open door in a dark alcove eyeing both directions for passersby. A car is double parked. Stainless steel kitchen containers and tupperware full of different colored contents are passed through the alcove into a small, well lit foyer. I approach the shadowed figure. I say hi, as he recognizes me he smiles and welcomes me in. I help carry containers up to a first floor flat with two other people. Once inside the night truly begin.
Inside the stylish kitchen two guys begin pulling plastic wrap off stainless steel containers and opening tupperware. A soup is boiling while a pasta roller is brought out and set-up to make the noodles that will accompany the broth. The room is lively with talk of soup and noodles, while in another part of the room a conversation is rolling about different wines and the food they will be paired with.
There’s a reason I’m here tonight. These two guys, Blair Warsham, and his friend Clint Davies, are two chefs who worked together at Campton Place in San Francisco under the famous Daniel Humm. They’re working together again to create and prepare a special 5 course dinner for Blair’s monthly underground Graffeats event. There are two courses of 5 left to taste and pair with wine for this Valentines day event. And, I’m about to sit down with these guys, and a local wine rep to taste these dishes and their companion wines.
The first course I taste is the house made organic Japanese noodles with a concentrated miso, sesame, blackened onion broth. This dish was paired with Green River Snow Age sake. The noodles are served separate from the broth. The idea here is to dip the noodles in the broth to absorb the flavor. The room is silent for a moment before an eruption of slurping. Slurp of soup, a sip of sake, a burst of opinions, we all agree the match is near perfect. Everyone quickly finishes the soup in anticipation for the next pairing.
Dishes clatter as we clear the table. Blair and Clint go into the kitchen to prep the next course. They hover around a stainless steel container from the freezer that is being difficult. Hiding inside a Foie Gras Parfait, a layered dish of Foie Gras, granny smith apple confit, black truffle, and hazelnut. At the sound of this, I secretly became nervous. I had never tried Foie gras before. But, hell, this is fine dining, wine, and good company. There was no way I was going to pass the experience up. The course was plated and served, paired with Waipra 2007 Reserve Riesling. Everyone started. Nervous, I took a heaping fork full. I learned very quickly that Foie Gras is an acquired taste that everyone else at the table obviously had. I got it down and quickly reached for the wine. My immature palette for Foie Gras was quickly replaced by my wine palette. The flavors were amazing. Once again we all agreed in unison that the pairing was near perfect. I continued eating my Foie Gras, but in smaller bites.
Finishing the courses we had one last wine to try, an interesting surprise, a sparkling red wine, Barokes Blanc de Noirs-Vibrant red in a very interesting container. I won’t describe the container, keeping the surprise for any attendees that may be reading this. It was extremely tasty. It reminded me of a sparkling sangria.
This amazing evening came to an end with wine, good conversation & company, and new friends. I have never had an experience quite like this before. If Blair’s Graffeats experience is anything like this, I am definitely signing up. But I will have to wait to experience one of his events for myself until I am finished filming Blair’s story. For the next 6 months I will be working with Blair to document the story behind his graffeats events.
With that my exciting evening ended. We said our goodbyes, and I left the same way I had come in, back out an unlit, unmarked door onto rainy street in a Russian Hill Neighborhood with anticipation for the Valentines Day event.
If you’re interested in going to this event, here’s the flyer: