Tired of the over-the-top (and frankly lackluster) Valentine’s Day menus of most traditional dining experiences, gourmands and wine connoisseurs opted to celebrate this year’s day of passion at the Occupy the Things U Love supper party thrown by The Noble Rot. The exclusive wine club was no stranger to intimate tasting events; however, this was their first real dinner collaboration. The interactive experience brought guests together over a cocoa-infused, 5-course meal from Chef David Santos, founder of the Um Segredo supper club. The evening also included Spanish wine pairings courtesy of Ramon Del Monte from Tempranillo, Inc. and the comedic antics of zany ventriloquist, Carla Rhodes, and her Prohibition-era accomplice, Cecil.
Guests had been looking forward to a truly underground experience and were not disappointed. Upon their arrival in Williamsburg, revelers had to locate the correct entrance to the industrial building. A small sticker declaring “Good Food” was the hint that led them through the door and into the artsy loft of Daniel Sklaar, the eccentric founder of the Fine & Raw Chocolates, who was on hand to pleasure everyone with a surprise treat later in the evening.
The first hour of the culinary adventure introduced the guests to the world of Spanish wines via the perfectly balanced Marques de Gelida Brut Exclusive 2006. After some delightful mingling, the diners selected their seats at the communal table, ready to begin their feast. Instead of uptight place cards, self-appointed master sommelier, Jonny Cigar left each guest a humorous note illustrating his lifelong passion for wine. Quirky sayings included the defiant, “I says to Him, ‘Yeah? Turn it into wine Tough Guy!’ – Jonny Cigar to Jesus Christ, 30 A.D.” and the young-at-heart, “’Duck, Duck, Duck, Wine’ – Jonny Cigar, Grade School, 1987”.
The wine aficionado’s eclectic personality was a perfect fit with Sklaar’s, whose wall displayed a frisky portrait of Marilyn Monroe with wide, laughing mouths for eyes. The image was at once alarming, yet playful. Under the actress’ vigilant, taunting grins, diners were regaled with pillows of Scallop Crudo contrasted against crunchy cocoa nibs; seduced by sweet monkfish with a coco powder crust and passion fruit sauce; teased by chocolate-infused pasta covered with a short rib ragu; provoked by a roasted squab and its succulent leg drizzled with chocolate; and ultimately tickled by a playful chocolate bread pudding topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Each elaborate course was balanced by a complimentary red or white wine and culminated with a sherry. Lastly, Sklaar presented guests with a parting gift from his collection – a block of raw dark chocolate infused with coconut oil and scotch, a sumptuous combination.
The Occupy the Things U Love event was more than a meal; it was truly a feast for the senses. It broke away from the monotonous restaurant experience by uniting the guests through their common passions – food and wine. A bond this strong should be celebrated more than once a year, triggering guests to vow future visits to The Noble Rot and Um Segredo.