Over the past few weeks I’ve blogged about dinners I’ve attended with the Secret Dining Hub meetup group.  It’s basically a private dinner (which you pay for) put on by a chef who graduated valedictorian from Le Cordon Bleu Boston.  You can sign up to attend a dinner by joining the meetup here.

Each dinner has a theme; recent dinners were vegetarian, fish, and grass-fed beef.  The next dinner, taking place this Sunday is “sweetbreads and homemade sausage wrapped in caul fat.”  Each dinner is a multi-course offering, of mostly plated dishes.  Starting courses have included steak tartare, guanciale roulades with stuffed and fried green olives, and “patiently” poached mussels.  There are usually three “starter” courses, an entrée course, cheese course and dessert course.

Entrees have included house made fresh pasta tossed with Bolognese sauce, pan seared bluefish served with house made stewed tomatoes with fire roasted green peppers, and Vidalia onions and served with a beautiful dried pasta that was tossed with tomato consommé, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper; and strip steak pan seared and served with shitake mushroom ragout and fresh corn scallion pancakes finished with a red miso and mushroom pan sauce with a chiffonade of basil.

The dinners draw a collection of foodies, but certainly not food snobs.  There are usually around 12 people or so, from different backgrounds and with different experiences with food.  Many a night someone will end up saying “I usually don’t like [insert name of the dish], but I like what I just ate!”

Maybe it takes a unique type of person to agree to have dinner with a table full of strangers.  But it appears that there are many of those people – the wait list for the dinners currently stretches into October.

It seems to me some “magic” happens at these dinners.  Conversation flows (wine also flows for those who partake of the wine program) and friendships are made over gorgeous, delicious food.  Of course, the conversation starts with the food, wanders around a bit, and usually comes back to the food.

Here’s a look at what we ate during our most recent dinner.

Speaking of the food, Chef Marianne will be taking us on a journey through regional French cooking.  Check the meetup site for specifics, dates and to sign up.  While many dates already have wait lists, Chef Marianne is looking for additional locations to host dinners.  Maybe you want to host one?

— Kelley

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