Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mystery Meet #2 Revealed

Anyone that follows my baking posts knows I'm a huge fan of Beantown Baker and end up getting most of my recipes from her blog.  I was disappointed that I had missed the opportunity to meet Jen in person at last month's Myers + Chang event (since I didn't even realize she was there) and was glad when she passed along news of this month's Mystery Meet.
For those who haven't heard of Mystery Meet, it's the brainchild of social media entrepreneur Seth Resler.
Sidenote: I actually had my first (online) encounter with Seth when he commented on a post of mine earlier in the year. I remember clicking on his profile and seeing a very early version of his Mystery Meet site, but didn't realize what it actually was until Jen emailed me that it had launched.

Anyway, back to Mystery Meet. The basic concept is that twenty people meet at a different restaurant each month to enjoy a special prix fixe menu.  The twist is that you don't know where you're eating until 24 hours before the dinner. Slots for the dinner open up exactly one week before, and are sold out within hours. You're given a few clues about the restaurant at that point but don't know the final destination until Seth emails you the night before. Based on the fact that the first dinner had taken place at Ten Tables in Cambridge, I was pretty sure that the calibre of restaurants would be perfectly suited for foodies, and bloggers that simply enjoy eating like myself. :)

The three clues that I saw on the day of sign-up mentioned that the restaurant was south of the Charles River, that the chef ran every Boston marathon from 1991 to 2006 and that the owners, both Harvard grads, met while working at Rialto. After reading these hints, I had a strong suspicion that the restaurant was going to be... you guessed it, Myers + Chang! Rather than being disappointed that I was going to be eating at the same restaurant twice within a month, I was thrilled at the opportunity to try more of the restaurant's delicious dishes and as Andrew put it, avoiding frozen entrees (see my previous Myers + Chang post for an explanation on this).

Come Monday night, Seth's email confirmed the location and informed us that we'd be enjoying an eight-dish family-style meal with dessert for $36 (not including drinks, tax or tip).

I arrived minutes before 7:30 p.m. and was relieved to see that Jen had saved me a seat at the table. Approximately twenty of us were crammed into one long table along the windows, which worked well in terms of passing dishes but poorly in the sense that you only got a chance to talk to the people in the section closest to you. However, I had some fabulous people seated around me so the conversation flowed pretty smoothly for most of the night since most of us shared a passion for food and for blogging!

This is a quick shot of the right side of the table with Seth all the way at the end with the blue shirt on (seated in the middle, I had a good shot of both sides of the table). I apologize in advance for some of the embarassingly blurry pictures, I was snapping some rather quickly and  my poor little green camera was not up to the challenge!

Here is a shot of the special menu that was developed for the Mystery Meet group - I was pleased to see that a lot of Myers + Chang's most popular items were available for us to try:

One of my favorite dishes of the night was hands down the thai ginger chicken salad. I always seem to gravitate towards savory noodle dishes in Asian cuisine.  Note that all the dishes were really served family style (random bowls across the table), which was almost confusing at times since we were all scrambling to get a taste of each dish. I have to give due credit, everyone at the table was extremely polite with sharing and conscientious about passing around the dishes so everyone got their fair share:

The lemony shrimp potstickers on the top left (which was the only dish I didn't really like, but everyone else seemed to love it) and the tasty spring rolls that we had tried last month. I don't think everyone liked the dipping sauce but it happened to be right up my alley since I love vinegar-y things:

I think the table favorite was the tea-smoked pork ribs. These were falling-off-the-bone tender and the perfect accompaniment to the bowls of white and brown rice we were served:

Andrew's favorite, the wok-roasted mussels, were as good as I remembered (funny sidenote: no one near me touched the garlic bread, I think we were all nervous about getting our fingers on it and trying to share):

I thought the Tiger's Tears (basically a cold steak salad) was good, spicier than one would think but it didn't stand out as much as the other dishes to me:

Same goes for the chicken and rapini dish, surprisingly spicy with a lot of flavor from the rapini but again, not one of my favorites. I think at this point, I was getting pretty full so that may have also influenced my perception of the dish:

The final dish was the a tofu and broccoli chow fun. Not bad, but the tofu didn't soak up enough of the spicy sauce's flavor for me. This I admit is due to the fact that my mom makes killer tofu dishes (especially soups) so everything pales in comparison to her tofu:

There was a long lag in dinner as we wondered whether or not we'd be getting dessert. Dessert was mentioned in the initial Mystery Meet emails but it wasn't on our printed menu. Hopes were high, since we are talking about desserts made by the Joanne Change of Flour fame. To my relief and extreme pleasure, we got served a HUGE variety of desserts.  My only complaint that was that dessert-wise, you literally only got a single taste of each dish. I also got the short end of the stick since none of the desserts seemed to be set down near me, so I missed getting even a single bite of my absolute favorite, the coconut cream pie dessert that I had devoured last month.

What I did get to try (and I was lucky for it) was a:
  • lemon-ginger mousse coupe, homemade fortune cookie (not very exciting for me)
  • "ancient chinese secret" chocolate mousse, homemade 5-spice marshmallows (delicious flavor and texture)
  • banana creme caramel, black and white sesame brittle (tasted like flan but was good with the banana slices on the side):

  • frozen vanilla bean parfait, fresh orange granita (tasted like the best creamsicle I've ever had)

And I skipped the chocolate and cocoa nib terrine with vietnamese coffee sauce since I had tried it last month and felt like it should be enjoyed by my fellow diners who actually appreciate chocolate desserts.

Overall, it was a blast attending my first real blogger/foodie event and meeting some interesting people, including the owner of Boston Chocolate Tours (who knew such a thing existed?).

For a more comprehensive list of participants or to get another perspective of the night, I urge you to check out Jen's post on the event.

Finally, a shout out to Seth for thinking of such an interesting/cool/fun concept!

PS. Meeting all these "serious" bloggers and seeing their wonderful blogs has made me even more determined to revamp my blog/design after the wedding craziness has ended. Consider that another official to-do before the end of the year.


Jen said...

Great recap post. I agree with your reviews of the dishes.

bcallegra said...

Thanks Jen! I know you definitely agreed with what dishes were spicy! :)