A Chevaline Dinner

December, 2010


Saddle up cowgirls and cowboys!

This month we’re taking you for a ride. We probably shouldn’t tell you what’s on next Thursday’s Gastronauts menu, since we are fairly certain both ingredients are illegal in a handful of states. (Unless you’re a pet, maybe.)

You certainly won’t find either of them on any restaurant menus in the U.S. But that’s never stopped us. We just put our spurs on, saddled up, and made it happen. To get around the obvious restrictions, we’re doing this month’s dinner on the downlow: We’ve rented out a space, brought in a chef from the other side of the country, and we’re throwing our very own — and very private — dinner party.

You should not miss this meal. We just wish we had enough space (and enough mystery ingredient) to go around. We want to tell you what it is, but in this WikiLeaks age, we’re going to redact it for the time being – to protect our sources, of course. Here’s the story…For weeks we made dozens of phone calls to Quebec, eventually even asking our French friends to call butchers all over Montreal. We did a test run smuggling the XXXXX across the U.S.-Canadian border. And then, just after Thanksgiving, we drove north two days to the middle of nowhere in bitterfrickin’cold Quebec, where we visited the only distributor of XXXXX in the east. We spoke with men in white butcher coats, bearing large cleavers, and with peculiar French accents. We packed 50lbs of XXXXX in dry ice, then slogged through two snowstorms back down to Montreal (where we stopped for a phenomenal dinner at Au Pied du Cochon). We crossed the border into Vermont, without getting arrested, searched, or detained, declaring our XXXXX to customs as pet food. And all’s well that ends well: the 2.7 cubic feet of XXXXX are safe and sound in an unmarked freezer here in New York.

Finally, we talked to our good friends at Williamsburg’s Meat Hook and they were kind enough to allow us to rent out the Brooklyn Kitchen. It’s a cool space: a large, open kitchen and enough room for us all to get cozy and drunk. To make sure we had the right talent for this rare Gastronaut dinner, we roped in our friend, Geddes, chef and owner of a fine restaurant on Orcas Island in the Bay of Seattle, who is flying to cook for us. Plus, he’s bringing his sous chef, Annie, and his brother Ian, another professional chef and friend, is coming down from Vermont. We’ve lassoed some Gastro volunteers to help cook and prep, as well.

You may have already guessed what the mystery meat is, but we can only tell you about the second ingredient, Tonka Beans, which the FDA has also declared illegal. Thus, we intend to use them liberally. It’s similar to a vanilla bean, but has a rich, spiced taste and it pairs well with both sweet and savory. We’re going to infuse some vodka with it and serve you all martinis, then Geddes is going to use it in aioli. We’ll see what other kind of magic he can whip up.


Brooklyn Kitchen
100 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY