Sunday, March 4, 2012

Secret Secret:)

There is something undeniably thrilling about being in on a secret. Perhaps it's the exclusivity of it, the 'hush-hush' of it all or maybe just the thought that if people are not begging you to let them in on's probably because they don't even know what they are missing out on.
One of my most recent favorite 'secret' has in fact been around for a while.  It won't surprise many of you that I am referring to a 'secret dinner' of sorts people refer to as 'pop-up dinners'.  As with many secrets, pop-ups are not on display and it's not until you start looking out for them that you realize just how rich and lush the Greater Boston's pop-up scene really is.
Most people ask: what exactly is a 'Pop-up'? There are many answers. It is a term which can be used to describe an individual or group that throws a dinner party in a given location for one night.  It can be in a restaurant (like the Celebrity Chef series at Stella or Guchi's Midnight Ramen), a person's home, or an entirely different location, like a retail store. Pop-ups can also be businesses which sprout up in unused locations for a limited time, like Dore Creperie.
Different as they may be, all pop-ups share two things - first, they are always shrouded in some kind of secrecy to heighten anticipation and novelty and second, they always end up bringing together a mix of people from all walks of life. Without fail, attending a pop-up is an interesting and enlightening experience!
This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to check out a pop-up dinner in a series that has just been launched.  Unfortunately, I cannot give away the location, that is part of the puzzle leading up to your invitation to dinner. I can say however, that its concept is vegan, Afro-Cuban street food....and lots of Bubbles:)
I was especially excited about this dinner as it was a super secret pop-up, aka, it was the rehearsal for the actual launching of the series called, Barrio Pop-up Dinner. Keep reading and you will find the email that will get you one step closer to getting in on the next one!

The dinner began at 8 30 and I was very happy to see some familiar food blogger faces waiting just as eagerly as I for the door to open. Once inside, a glass of delicious Champagne was handed to us and shortly thereafter we were taken to the dinner room.  The space is small but comfortably fits about twelve people and has been made specifically for pop-up events.  It even has a demonstration kitchen and funky art work to boot!

To our surprise and many people's delight, we were soon instructed to get chopping. A large assortment of fruits and vegetables were placed in front of us and we were told to help chop the ingredients for our salad.  (I keenly steered far away from the pineapple and settled for a much less intimidating bunch of carrots).

The fruits of our labor (pun intended) were not wasted and we saw our fine skills placed on top of a bed of mixed greens constituting the first course.  Jicama, carrots, tomatoes, mango and pineapple all piled high on our plate made for a tasty and colorful medley. We were also given a skewer with grilled corn coated in crumbly cheese with a nice kick.  It was delicious! (I surreptitiously managed to procure a second skewer:) )

Another surprise was delivered once our salad plates had been cleared, this one came in the form of two scoops of Wild Blueberry and goat cheese ice cream. Talk about a stroke of genius! It served simultaneously as a palate cleanser and a hot topic of conversation. This got my table going on a tangent that veered towards the wonders of pairing chocolate and cheese...yumm:)

A ratatouille of sorts was served next with eggplant, zucchini and roasted peppers.  I am not sure it was supposed to be served cold, but the spicy salsa verde certainly helped heat it up again:)

For the main course, we were given a plate piled high with traditional Cuban street food - rice and beans, collard greens and fried plantains (which they thankfully brought out extra of.  Two soft tacos were filled with vegan chicken and green apple curry.  I was curious about how you make vegan chicken, but the big boss aka... Ice T, would not let me in on that secret...but I suppose some must be kept:)
It was pretty tasty, however I was not too crazy about the texture.
Unfortunately, the dessert, which was one of the best parts of the meal for me, cannot be disclosed would give too much away! 
All I can say is that after all of this delicious food and magical champagne flutes that somehow managed to refill themselves throughout, room must be left for the real treat that ends the meal.
Barrio Pop-up Dinner is going to be a great hit.  Once people get it on their radar they will be bombarding the correspondent to get a spot. 
Boston's food scene is always evolving, with pop-ups sprouting up here and there, there is always something new and exciting to look forward to. As for me, I am still looking to get in on a Guchi Midnigt Ramen pop-up and a couple of others...I am also looking forward to discovering more Pop-ups in and around Boston!
As promised, here is the email you should contact to get a spot at the next Barrio Pop-up Dinner (March 8th):

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