Perhaps it was happenstance, but rarely does it occur that such a diverse group of strangers get along so easily and visibly have a great time with each other.
The Dinner Collective
You’re probably wondering what was it that brought such an eclectic group of individuals together. Was it a meeting of the minds to promote world peace? Perhaps it was the topic of eradicating world hunger or the noble cause of children’s literacy? The real reason, however, was simply, food. The temptation of a great meal drives many of us to take all sorts of risks. We travel to the smallest pockets of the world just to be served food we’ve never even heard of and risk our lives to sample delicacies of foreign lands. Friday night’s dinner was nowhere near as dramatic, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have the slightest of doubts joining this dinner collective.
The Host and Chef
I had the privilege of receiving an invite, along with a number of other foodies, to a private dinner party hosted by Soulo Culinary Ambition’s Viana Rickett, a CPA and self-proclaimed food lover, and Chef LaMont Mitchell, a graduate of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Atlanta and former sous chef at Rose’s Luxury. The invitation promised a night of good food with good company and I’m very pleased to say that they delivered on both accounts. Simplistic décor and some Motown classics from Viana’s playlist set the tone for that evening.
What We Ate
The menu had a seafood sampler theme and included five courses of freshly prepared dishes that showcased Chef Mitchell’s wide range of culinary skills. The evening started with a bowl of fresh salad greens, mixed with homemade pickled onions, carrots, and chopped up strawberries, dressed with Modena balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
The appetizer course was a crab toast made with avocado butter, cucumber, and melon. This dish had a good texture and flavor but was slightly salty for my taste. It was followed by a soup course, a creative mix of pickled shrimp, corn vichyssoise, and jalapeno cornbread croutons. This was my favorite dish of the evening. I didn’t think the ingredients would blend well together at first, but the hint of tang from the shrimp mixed with the sweetness of the corn soup, and the salt and crunch of the jalapeno corn bread was just the perfect combination of flavors. The middle course was an entree in the form of a spiced ahi tuna topped with a summer medley of strawberries and kiwi.
The fish was fresh, but the spiced seasoning somewhat overpowered its natural flavor. The penultimate course was an ivory king salmon accentuated with sugar snap peas and romanesco cherries. This was probably the favorite among the group since every plate cleared hardly had any leftover crumbs. The salmon was fresh, seasoned lightly and pan-seared to perfection. Dessert was made up of poached apricots with ginger cake, vanilla mascarpone, and chocolate almonds. It was a fitting final dish that cleansed the palate and provided a bit of sweetness to a near perfect evening.
I came to this dinner with hardly any expectations but left with much more than I bargained for. My passion for good food once again provided me with fascinating stories to cherish and introduced me to a unique set of individuals whose friendships I will appreciate for many years to come.