I've written in this space before about my usual apprehension when it comes to meeting persons unfamiliar to me.
So for me, it's a rare occasion in which I get to meet someone for the first time and then immediately feel at complete and total ease with that person. Rarer still are the times when I come across an entire group of strangers and feel a strong sense of camaraderie with them after only a few hours.
But such was the case last weekend, when my wife and I were lucky enough to attend a Food Blogger Party at the home of Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple. Not only were we treated to a seemingly endless array of great food, but we were also lucky enough to have met a group of truly wonderful people.
Todd and Diane's shindig started off innocently enough. After all of their guests had arrived, Todd led everyone on a tour of the world famous White on Rice Couple Garden. While everyone's mouth was agape from the awesomeness that is Todd and Diane's backyard, the hosts seized upon this moment of vulnerability among their guests--Diane quickly assigned each of us to go through this amazing garden and pick out various herbs that she'd be using for our dinner.
Despite this seemingly sly move by our hosts to get us all "working" at their dinner party, none of us minded helping them out one bit. Although we were all guests in the home of strangers, none of us shirked at our newly given responsibilities as herb foragers. As lovers of food, we reveled in these duties. And I was very content to count myself among these guests that night...
After Todd led his group of eager guests on a tour of his garden, I shared in a moment of amazement with Matt of Matt Bites, and his partner Adam. We all seemed to marvel at how a few tufts of swiss chard managed to protrude from the small opening of what seemed to be a giant urn-shaped ornamental pot that probably had no business containing much of anything, let alone swiss chard!
When Brooke from Food Woolf first arrived to the party, there was something oddly familiar about her. As my wife and I would find out later that night, Brooke works at one of our favorite Los Angeles restaurants. So we had actually seen Brooke a couple weeks before--unknowingly then, but hazily familiar now--while we were at said restaurant for our anniversary dinner.
I also became acquainted with Allison of Sushi Day and her boyfriend, Son, as my wife and I formed small rounds of flatbread dough with the young couple before dinner started. Turns out that some new stomping grounds for my wife and I are old stomping grounds for Son--the four of us may all share a sushi meal together at these common grounds soon.
Matt of Wrightfood was also a guest and I found out that one of Matt's small missions in life is to make everyone in the world aware of the English Flag. I figured that perhaps I should do the same with the flag of the Philippines.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Sarah of The Delicious Life and Tastespotting fame. After telling her my blog name, Sarah actually remembered the last photo I submitted to Tastespotting--an amazing feat considering the fact that she scours through thousands of food photos a day.
And speaking of food photos, I finally got to meet Wandering Chopsticks--one of my oldest companions in commenting (in her blog and in mine). After I realized my camera was sans memory card (what kind of a food nerd am I?!!), WC was nice enough to lend me her camera and also offered to email me some of her pictures as well. As such, ALL of the photos in this post are courtesy of good ol' Wandering Chopsticks.
Wandering Chopsticks giving the business to some springrolls.
My wife and I and flatbread dough
While I got a few quizzical looks at my t-shirt that night, Julie from JuliesKitchen immediately recognized it as an homage to offal. Not only is Julie hip to not-so-choice cuts, but I discovered she's got good taste in beer as well.
I was also happy to meet Leah of SpicySaltySweet, who not only showcased her knowledge of wine that night, but also her keen use of dish soap and a sponge as she volunteered to wash dishes for Todd and Diane after we had all finished dinner. I was so inspired by this inexplicable act of kindness that I ended up drying dishes for Leah (and no one was pointing a gun to my head).
Perhaps noticing the dish-drying-grimace on my face, Toni from Daily Bread Journal picked up a kitchen towel and helped relieve the wet onslaught of giant platters that were steadily coming my way.
As it turns out after all, there was much more to be done to help out our gracious hosts than just herb foraging. We all picked things from the garden, helped out in the kitchen, doled out wine, cleared dishes, and took turns answering the front door for the cops. OK, I made that last one up, but if needed be we would've deftly dodged the fuzz to keep our hosts safe, I'm sure.
Soon enough, Todd and Diane's home was buzzing with activity as wine was poured and stories exchanged. We were like an army of line cooks, comrades-in-arms proud to be working in a great restaurant--Chez W.O.R.C.--that was run by two great chefs: Todd and Diane.
Although every one of the guests helped out in some way that night, the delicious food was ALL Todd and Diane's doing--their dinner was flawless! Some of my favorites that night were the Vietnamese Pork Sliders, and the grilled flatbread pizzas, but perhaps my most favorite was Todd's grilled herb-stuffed whole fish.
Special of the night
There was so much more food and fun from Todd and Diane's party that night, like their wonderful pairing of tropical fruits with cheese (mangosteens, longans, and jackfruit with stinky blue cheese and smoked goudas), and Todd's awesome cocktail creations. So for a better run-down of the food from that night and for more pictures, check out this post-party write-up from the hosts with the most: White on Rice Couple.
Thanks again for all the fun and food, Todd and Diane! What began as a meeting of complete strangers ended up being a family gathering of food nerds deliriously happy to be in the company of other food nerds. All of us that night--Todd and Diane and their very lucky guests--were comfortable and at ease in our element: like-minded and similarly passioned folk who would like nothing more than to spend a Saturday evening helping to prepare a feast amongst friends.
I just hope these kinds of events become less and less rare for me.