I love to eat out. With friends. Case closed.
I am, however, also HUGE fan of eating out of my own low-sodium snack pack when dining beyond the kitchen.
I think of it as a low-sodium emergency kit, a “starving SOS,” just in case I find myself somewhere with nothing to eat. And whether it is a wedding, a potluck, or the Oscars (someday), you’ll always find me with a little brown bag of something something that will keep me fed and feeling full.
But hold on to your snack pack and restaurant reservation for a moment, because last weekend these two things got combined in a totally awesome way: a BYO-meal all white pop-up dinner.
Yes. A beautiful dinner set in Napa, under a romantic full moon, with around 200 strangers all equipped with their own tablecloths, glasses, decorations, and most importantly, food. The hosts of the evening, Handmade Events, provides the tables and chairs, the location, and the late night entertainment. But the rest is up to you. Including what you eat.
Dressed in white, my party of four feasted on homemade sourdough bread and roasted tomato bruschetta. We noshed on endive with curry chicken salad. We slurped Asian noodle bowls. We stuffed up with fluffy angel food cake and lemon curd. And we danced it all off to a live polka funk band. Pretty standard Saturday.
Slash, an unforgettable food experience. Which reminded me that memorable meals don’t just happen at the table of the latest hot shot restaurant. They can happen before, during, or after the food is served. With a trip to the farmers market. With a cooking class. With a farm tour. Or of course, with an all-white pop up dinner.
So expand your idea of eating out and this weekend, take your low-sodium dining beyond the dining room. Invite friends, explore, and enjoy every part of dinner — from picking your ingredients to cleaning the dishes.
Now let’s get to some fun links from the week!
MAGICAL FRUIT: Smart is knowing tomatoes are fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to use them in a fruit salad. And genius is topping an avocado with lemon, olive oil, and cannellini beans.
HOLIDAY CHEER (and churros): The ladies at Spoon Fork Bacon had me at hello. And rosemary wreath table cards. And the idea of banana bread churros! Just make sure to use a low-sodium banana bread recipe.
STUFF IT: I’m totally in love with Mark Bittman (pass it on) and his gorgeous NY Times infographics, like this one that tells us to make dolmas. With anything we want. Go low-so by using boiled collards or cabbage instead of brined grape leaves. Or if you live near/find yourself lost in a vineyard, pick and prepare real grape leaves yourself! This would make a great desk lunch or dinner party appetizer.
COOKING SCHOOL: Jonesing for tortellini? Who isn’t. Check out Tasting Table’s heartwarming homemade how-to video. And make sure to use low-sodium ricotta or mascarpone (if you can handle a little extra mg’s) for the filling. Or, better yet, use a simple but thick butternut squash puree, like the ravioli recipe in my book! Or your own concoction using these pasta filling rules from YumSugar.
EAT OUT: BYOeverything to this self-hosted, self-cooked, super sexy pop up dinner. It’s rad. And a perfect event for anyone craving a memorable meal experience with loved ones, but nervous to eat beyond the kitchen. Did someone say holiday gift? Yeah, I just did.
HOT CHOCOLATE: I don’t know how to melt chocolate. I know how to burn it. But thankfully theKitchn has you covered with this great tutorial. Meaning velvety chocolate coat for strawberries, bananas, or your spoon.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: If you’ve noticed that my pictures have a grey-ish tint to them, you ain’t crazy. For the past month I’ve battled with severe color saturation issues and I’m still working on it. So for now, continue to pretend that everything you see is in technicolor and hopefully I’ll have it all figured out soon!
YOUR TURN: What are you making this weekend?