When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

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Walking into Theo Friedman's apartment this past Friday, I'm instantly welcomed with a smile and his homemade tangerine ginger soda. I take a sip as introductions are made, and as the unique combination of flavors hit my palette, I know this food-filled night will not be like any other. His parents apartment is spacious and open, and with the amount of art on the walls, it largely resembles an art gallery. I will soon learn how completely accurate this is.

Friedman, 22, is a recent graduate from Tufts, now residing in the city. While at Tufts, he received a $350 grant from the school to create a 20 course meal for ten people. The purpose of the project was to write a paper on how the food industry has created a disconnect between the people preparing the food, and the people cosuming it. This disconnect is one of the driving forces behind Theo's decisions to do pop-up restaurants versus working at or owning an actual restaurant, at least for now.

"The guest can come into the restaurant and have the most amazing experience and feel like the happiest person in the world, and the person making the food could be having a terrible time. I don’t ever want to eat somewhere where the people aren’t totally excited about being there and making that food. I know in most restaurants that that’s not totally doable, but that’s what I’m trying to create".

As guests (10 total) begin to trickle in for the event, it's clear that Friedman means what he's saying. Each guest is greeted the way I was. Even though he has two friends, Tyler and Amadou, acting as sous chefs/assistants/waiters, he greets each set of guests personally. He takes the time to put their coats away for them if needed, all the while getting to know each person who arrives. Most of the guests have found out about the dinner through a friend or acquaintance of Theo's, while two are complete strangers.


Friedman opening sodas for arriving guests

The final guests arrive, and we're seated at the dining room table together. While there has been the initial awkwardness of 10 strangers warming up to each other, conversation is soon flowing smoothly. I learn that seated around me is a lawyer, two college seniors (one majoring in fish biology), a food entrepreneur, and an actress, among others. Some are complete foodies, and blew me away with their knowledge of restaurants, coffee shops, and even food trucks in the city. Some are just there because they heard the food was good and the experience was great, and they haven't even eaten half the things on the menu before.

The first course served isn't on the menu, but no one is complaining. A bite-sized introduction for what lays ahead of us, Theo tells us that we have given chunks of smoked green mango topped with an untraditional mole, toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower. There is silence around the table as everyone takes in the sweet smokiness of the mango complimenting the spiciness of the mole.

The mango is served on a platter that Friedman made himself

The following course is a warm edamame financier (a sort of light sponge cake) topped with a soy goat cheese mousse, lava salt, and lime. One of my favorites of the night, it perfectly exemplified the unique dishes that Friedman concocts. One wouldn't generally think to combine edamame and goat cheese, but he did so in a way that was both creative and delicious.

A squash tart is served next, and what stands out most about these are the squash chips that decorate them. They're impossibly thin, leaving everyone in awe as the chips practically dissolve in our mouths. Theo's voice comes from the kitchen, momentarily interrupting our reverie, "You're all very quiet". We assure him that that's a good thing.

As the next course is served, Theo tells us that this is where we're really starting to get adventurous. "Then again, you're already eating dinner in a stranger's apartment". He goes on to tell us that this round is a "course in gluttony", and he doesn't disappoint as we are served black garlic doughnuts filled with black garlic and yuzu kosho aioli, topped with sea urchin. Easily my favorite of the night, the warm doughnut is, "Such an umami bomb", as one guest puts it. The only downside of this dish is the despair one feels once they realize that they have finished it.

The following courses dazzle with Friedman's take on pastrami and rye (which included a pork belly that cut like butter), mini sandwiches made from mushrooms, and a roasted parsnip paired with brown butter solids and pickled blackberry (pictured below). Each dish surprises and delights us as we try combinations of foods that we have never had before, and likely never will again.

"I get bored very easily", he tells us later. Some guests have stepped outside for post-dinner cigarettes, while the rest of us are gathered around the island in the kitchen conversing with Theo. He is constantly creating new dishes, and tells us that the only thing he has repeated recently was the black garlic doughnut, and even that he's only made for guests twice. I am told later that one of the reasons that he's so hesitant to return to the fine dining restaurant industry is because there is the expectation for the restaurants that you have to have a set menu, because people are going to want to come back for the same things. This just isn't how Friedman currently operates, and so instead he has turned to his out of the box pop up technique to create this unique dining experience along with the unique food he serves.

Crunch chicharron, dulce de leche, black lime

One of the things I’ve learned is that you really can’t force anything A lot of the time I’ll have an idea that’s there but not completed and there’s some component that’s missing and I’ve found that if I try to force it then it ends up being not that great

. I try to just let it happen as naturally as possible and that's when I get something worth serving.



Toasted hay whipped cream, burnt clove meringue, blueberry mousse, preserved blueberries, nasturtiums

The bar for good food that stands out is set to nearly impossibly high standards when it comes to New York City. Delicious food isn't wanted but expected when one is eating in New York, and Friedman's food goes above and beyond. Each dish is served with an artistically beautiful presentation, and each bite taken is packed with unique flavors and textures. Keep an eye on this one, because when he eventually does open a restaurant, it has a Michelin star coming its way.

To see more of Friedman's creations and stay up to date on when his next pop-up's are, you can follow him on Instagram @theorykitchen and check out his newly opened website theorykitchen.co

Cover Image Credit: mine

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How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."
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I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches New Girl knows about True American. This crazy, non-sense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in Season 1 Episode 20.

The game, as described by New Girl character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game number one: the player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game number two: the player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game number three: the player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."



Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.

Congratulations!

You are now able to impress all of your New Girl-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly and enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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I'm Spilling The Tea: Here's Where You Can Find The Best Chai Lattes In North Carolina

Here's my roundup of the best chai lattes in town, from one tea drinker to another.

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I'll always choose tea over coffee, especially if it's a well-made chai latte. There's something intrinsically comforting about the drink's frothy texture and smooth spice blend, something that reminds me of Starbucks runs on snowy days and relaxing with a warm mug before bed. Chai delivers just enough punch to push you over that mid-afternoon slump, but not so much that you feel sick. I recently got my friends addicted to the drink because once you try it, there's no going back. Here's where you can find the best chai lattes in North Carolina.

1. The Oak House - Elon, NC

http://projects.elonnewsnetwork.com/bestof/food.html

The Oak House's chai lattes are sweet, spiced, and everything nice. The cafe is a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, but is always perfect study space if you need a little pick-me-up.

2. Perennial - Chapel Hill, NC

https://www.yelp.com/biz/perennial-chapel-hill-2

Perennial's chai is on the spicier end but is toned down by the sweetness of this cafe. It's an entirely Instagramable space, so sit back, relax, and watch the likes roll in.

3. The Green Bean - Greensboro, NC

https://downtowngreensboro.org/listings/the-green-bean/

Although The Green Bean looks like a traditional cafe on the outside, the vibrant murals and lively atmosphere inside are anything but. If you like a creamier chai latte, stop here the next time you're in Greensboro.

4. Liberty Coffee House - Asheville, NC

https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60742-d10260607-i206056654-Liberty_House_Coffee_and_Cafe-Asheville_North_Carolina.html

Liberty's chai lattes are as aesthetic as they are delicious. These artisanal teas are sure to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

5. Starbucks - Almost Anywhere, NC

https://nypost.com/2017/07/08/why-anti-starbucks-hipsters-sound-a-lot-like-trump-supporters/

When all else fails, Starbucks is always a safe bet. Pro tip: ask the barista to make your chai latte without water. There's almost no difference in cost, but your drink is made with double the flavor.

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