I devoted a whole page to the Relish Epicurea Supper Club this past month, because something so cool happened to me. Carlos Davis, the chef I’ve written about here and here asked me to be his guest chef at the premier of this new culinary adventure.
His dream is to share good food with the community, to cook for family and friends and to involve local food bloggers. I was deeply honored to be first and given the hand to choose the menu.
What is a supper club or a pop up restaurant?
The pop up restaurant does what is suggests. It pops up in a location often disclosed a day before, adding to the excitement and anticipation. Pop ups usually move around, and are a clever marketing approach to opening up a new restaurant, helping a more permanent venue grow legs. A supper club might also share in the mystery of an undisclosed location or might be a monthly event at the same place. Both pop ups and supper clubs sell tickets in advance (and sometimes at the door also) and take full advantage of social media.
The food is what the rave is really about. It’s a fixed menu, of several courses, usually giving a chef the chance to pump it up, cook his or her dream food and express their true culinary style while delivering more than a restaurant experience. It’s an event where it’s not uncommon to come out at the end of the night having gained new friends and a relationship with the chef.
A question for you foodies, home cooks, and food bloggers: If you are asked to come up with five courses for a supper club, what would you choose? I have over 450 recipes here at Spinach Tiger, so I consulted me first, which I know sounds funny. I knew I wanted the food to represent fresh produce, an Italian note or two and a Southern note and nod because for the last 14 years I have lived in Nashville.
My personal approach to food is a cross between Marcella Hazan and Alice Waters, two legends that have inspired home cooks and chefs for decades, focusing on fresh, high quality ingredients. My heart went to beets, sweet potatoes, kale and Brussels sprouts, for these are readily available locally and that was important. Out of character for me, I planned the menu backwards and I went straight to dessert first, grasping to find something very Tennessee in spirit that might celebrate my personal home cooking accomplishments.
Then I had to figure out how a menu could wow a supper club crowd, and harmonize with the culinary genius of Carlos Davis. He is from Barbados, and has a very specific culinary viewpoint that Nashville has more than embraced making him the most popular street food chef in Nashville because he has knows how to layer flavor, make a beautiful presentation and leave folks wanting more.
This is the menu we finally decided upon, loaded with fresh vegetables, with many ingredients sourced locally.
What is Relish Epicurea?
Firstly, it’s a dream of a chef who migrated from Barbados to America, coming with heart for food, cooking and community. Carlos Davis sees his supper club as the pinnacle of his life, the way he personally gets to express who he is, which is a chef who cooks food full of flavor and panache, yet humble enough to involve others (like me) in the planning of the menu. Carlos and I designed the menu together, which included buttermilk pie and and an anchovy seafood pasta, representing food close to my heart.
I was more consultant than chef on many of the courses, except for the dessert and appetizer. I personally made 50 tarts and all the pie dough from scratch. I was able to work in a professional kitchen, which at Casa Azafrán, is a dream. The brand new professional kitchen is part of a plan to provide a place for the community to have access to a professional kitchen rental as needed and to share culinary and artistic expression.
The Five Courses
I love beets and that’s reflected on all the many beet recipes here. The first course coincidentally matched the beverages at the table. Carlos made a deep red sorrel punch and I brought a lovely Rose, Chateau Des Annibals, to start the dinner.
The First Course: Crostini with Red and Yellow Beets, Noble Springs Goat Cheese Mousse, Thyme Honey
I eat cheese from goats I know and I wrote here why I think this is the best goat’s cheese you can buy in Nashville.
The beet crostini was inspired from this dish here.
The goat cheese was turned into a mousse with a bit of heavy cream, and the honey thyme was just delightful. Before I took my place at the table, I was able to get back into the kitchen to snap a few shots of the food plating.
The Second Course: Kale & Apple Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Walnuts, Raisins, Benton’s Bacon, Maple.
This dish was inspired from here. I chose a kale salad, because it’s one of those staples in my kitchen at all times and I want people to love it as much as I do. I can’t think of a food that reminds me more of the South than Sweet Potatoes and I am always trying to find new ways to enjoy them.
The Third Course: Squid Pasta with Anchovy Sauce, Scallop and Pistachio Butter
Many great dishes evolve from varying culinary viewpoints. I first had anchovy sauce with seafood and pasta at a restaurant on my honeymoon in the San Francisco area. This was a mere starting place for this dish. The dish was further refined with squid ink pasta from local pasta company Alfresco , and then topped with pistachio butter. The folks at my table didn’t leave a drop, which tells you how good this was. The wild sea scallop was perfectly cooked and delicate, harmonizing well with the pasta and sauces.
The Fourth Course: Coffee Infused Braised Beef Short Ribs with Brussels Sprouts
When Carlos and I were talking about short ribs for them menu, we both had coffee on our minds at the same time. The ribs were crusted with ground espresso beans and browned, and then tendered in a braise of tomatoes, onions, and special seasonings. The short ribs cam from Nashville’s Porter Road Butcher, where quality prevails. They were fall off the bone good with a deep, complex flavor profile.
The Fifth Course: Hatcher Dairies Buttermilk Pie with Whiskey Cream inspired from here.
I chose a buttermilk pie because I wanted feature local Hatcher dairy, which makes exquisite full fat buttermilk. It was exciting for me to make one of my favorite desserts which reminds most people of their childhood. Buttermilk pie is not too sweet, not too heavy and when flavored with bourbon and paired with a berry compote, it’s a perfect way to end a great meal on a happy note.
It was a bring your own wine event, which we personally love, so can drink wine that might be a bit too expensive in a restaurant. We started the night with a Rosé and ended with this lovely Italian Red.
Relish Epicurea will be a monthly event at the same location,which is a beautiful venue, conveniently located to serve both Nashville and Williamson County. The Conexión building is a story all in itself, so please check it out. During the warmer months, expect to sit outside in a very beautiful setting.
The next event is May 24 and will represent the personal vision of Chef Carlos as inspired from his Barbados roots and the love for flavorful, colorful food. Each dish will represent a different color.
You are welcome to bring your favorite bottle of wine to accompany your meal, glasses will be provided. Read more about Chef Carlos and where to order tickets here.