a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
The first rule of Gourmet Club is, of course, that you don’t talk about Gourmet Club.
Well, I’m busted. I’m totally breaking that rule here.
Gourmet Club is our monthly supper club that started more than five years ago and currently consists of seven die-hard members, all in love with and connected to food in some way.
And we do actually talk about Gourmet Club. In fact, friends (and family) who know about it often ask how they can get invited.
The main reason for this rule is so that we leave the raunchy stories told ’round the dinner table at the dinner table.
The second rule of Gourmet Club is that when you host you agree to put time and effort into making a kick-ass, homemade, gourmet meal for the group.
Everyone hosts a couple of meals per year. In the off months we usually go out for dinner at some new eatery in town, and then we come together for a gourmet potluck during the holiday season.
The third rule of Gourmet Club, and probably the most important, is that none of your guests can help you prepare, serve or clean up the dinner you are hosting. Guests bring the booze and are only allowed to sit and enjoy each others’ company and the excellent meal the host has prepared for the evening.
The clean up rule is great for the guests, but kind of crappy for the host. But what goes around comes around, and the hard work is worth it. It’s wonderful to be treated several months a year to gorgeous meals that are far superior to any restaurant dining experience.
Sometimes we choose a theme to add a bit of challenge to the different rounds of Gourmet Club hosting. Like the “pick three random spices out of a bag and use them throughout your entire meal” round – we ended up with crystallized ginger, black onyx cocoa and fennel pollen for our meal. Or the “celebrity chef inspiration” round – we cooked a Jamie Oliver-inspired meal.
My favorite round took shape after everyone in the group wrote on a piece of paper any words that could resemble a theme – a color, a country, an ingredient, a person, etc. Each host had to pick one of these random themes out of a hat and base their dinner on that word.
It just so happened that I picked “tea” for a dinner theme. I was thrilled, of course. I had been blending teas for a while, but this was going to be my first real adventure in cooking with tea.
I recently uncovered the menu for the tea-themed dinner we served for that round of Gourmet Club:
Gourmet Club Tea-Themed Dinner Menu
May 16, 2009
Smoky Tea Pot Stickers
Wild mushroom and tofu pot stickers, seasoned with smoky Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, and served with a ginger-soy dipping sauce.
Tea Pairing: Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from The Tea Box in Denver
Tea Duck “Nicoise” Salad
Seared duck breast in a citrus-Earl Grey tea sauce, served with mixed greens tossed in citrus-Earl Grey tea vinaigrette, tea-steamed green beans, citrus-roasted fingerling potatoes, and a tea egg.
Tea Pairing: Earl Grey Superior Black Tea from Pekoe Sip House in Boulder
Japanese Tea Rice
Sake-soy marinated scallops and ginger sushi rice, served in a broth of green tea, with Asian-style toppings to spice up your own dish.
Tea Pairing: Yu Quian An Ji Bai Cha Organic Green Tea from Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas in Denver
Ginger Solstice Sorbet with “Thin Mint” Cookies
A ginger-lemongrass-mint sorbet made with Zanitea’s Ginger Solstice herbal tea blend, served with homemade mint-chocolate cookies.
Tea Pairing: Rooibos Cacao Mint Organic Herbal Tea from Zanitea Organic Tea Blends in Denver
At some point, I will recreate these Gourmet Club tea-themed dishes and share them in this blog. For now, it serves as a pleasant reminder of what kick-started my tea foodie inspiration.
I owe my inspiration to cook in general to Gourmet Club. Being part of this group has inspired me to be adventurous in the kitchen, try new ingredients, test lots of recipes, and most of all to be more confident about my cooking skills. And I have become a better cook for it.
I also get so much inspiration from the now great friends that make up this group.
All the Gourmet Club members have their own skill and style:
- Mike can pretty much master any type of meat. (Yak with juniper berry gravy comes to mind.)
- Janet is the queen of desserts. (Her homemade fortune cookies were most impressive.)
- Some of my favorite meals from Frankie and Michelle have included comfort dishes inspired by one of their relatives. (Grandma’s fried chicken cutlets were amazing.)
- Carrie takes inspiration from icons like Charlie Trotter and Bobby Flay, and her meals often look and taste as if you were dining in one of those chef’s restaurants.
- Dan, my lover and sous chef, is the king of homemade bread. (His Bavarian pretzels have been my favorite so far.)
- And me, I’m all about anything I can learn how to make from scratch. (Homemade sausages might be my favorite to date.)
All rules and themes aside, Gourmet Club is really just about inspired meals with great friends.
Happy cooking and sipping!