Don’t feel bad, I didn’t really know what an underground dinner was either; but whatever it was, the name was intriguing, it sounded exciting, and count me IN.
My invitation to the underground dinner was most graciously extended by Toni Purry, founder and CEO of Purry Communications, who I met at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa event for the bloggers at OC Family magazine. You can read about our evening of pampering at the spa here. But right now, I need to tell you about my foodie adventure and magical evening in Van Nuys. Say what???
Yes, even though the address for the underground dinner location (disclosed only days before the event) said North Hollywood, a few guests that I talked with referred to the area as Van Nuys. I won’t bother to bemoan the travails of driving to Van Nuys from Orange County on a Saturday night before Valentine’s Day. These underground dinners are never at a traditional restaurant, how boring would that be… And it is by Invitation Only.
The evening was billed as “La Nuit á Paris” and, with this name, promised to transport us to the banks of the River Seine and the romance of the City of Lights.
Chef Amy Jurist and her amazing staff are the orchestrators of these bi-monthly dining experiences which she likes to think of as “food raves”.
Chef Amy’s career path to becoming a personal chef, caterer, and host/chef of Amy’s Underground Decadent Dinner Parties is a bit like Robert Frost’s road not taken . Her journey has included being a successful entertainment marketing executive, a reality star, as well as a photographer, a food product developer, and creator of fine artisanal chocolates! Read more about Amy and reviews of her other decadent dinners at Amy’s Culinary Adventures. While you’re there check out the mouth-watering menus from past dinners: Cheese Please, Mingle in the Mediterranean, One Night in Italy, The Mushroom Experience, and The Bacon Affair.
Our evening in Paris began with Michel Olivier 2007 Cremant de Limoux Blanc de Blanc champagne and a selection of three amuse bouches: brie with truffle honey, foie gras mousse, and tiny crepes filled with ham, gruyere, and mushrooms.
At the ringing of the dinner bell, guests were seated and Toni Purry introduced Chef Amy along with a little back story on Amy’s Culinary Adventures. Amy’s breezy style put everyone at ease and we were treated to her self-deprecating and amusingly irreverent sense of humor with each course.
Delicate and sublime, this dish was my favorite of the evening.
What distinguished this French Onion soup from all others was her method of straining the onions from the soup, leaving a lovely onion broth, much more sophisticated and easier to spoon gracefully from bowl to lips.
Served with garlic mashed potatoes and topped with shaved brussel sprouts and paired beautifully with a Château Mas Neuf Costières de Nîmes Tradition Rouge 2008.
I was ecstatic that the dessert was not chocolate! Not that I don’t love chocolate, but apple tarte tartin is a classic french dessert, and served with lavender vanilla bean ice cream, it was sheer bliss!
Thrilled to share a a table with Toni Purry and VIP guest, Sophie Gayot, daughter of Andre Gayot, founder of the Gayot restaurant rating system and renowned for their reviews and recommendations of the world’s finest restaurants and the Gayot travel guide series.
Truly an evening to remember, Chef Amy made a point of crediting her devoted friends and expert staff for keeping her motivated personally and creatively: Jonathon Fong for the floral decor, Adam Zuckert for wine selections, Tad Weyland for his culinary creativity, Jennifer Doland for keeping her on track and on time, Toni Purry and Jackie Reaume from Purry Communications for getting the word out, and even her childhood French nanny, Diane Marquis-Sebie for her friendship and translation services. 🙂