Supper Liberation Front’s Kurmalliance Benefit Dinner

Supper Liberation Front is run by chefs Josh Gil and Daniel Snukal of Tacos Punta Cabras fame. On Monday night, Chris Hei and I attended S.L.F.’s pop-up dinner in support of Kurmalliance, “a 501c3 nonprofit organization aimed toward saving sea turtles and their ecosystems,” with $25 of the $75 dinner going to the cause.  The menu, as posted, looked interesting, seafood-focused and Asian-influenced, so I signed us up last week for the second seating.

We arrived at the not-so-secret location as the first seating was just being served dessert.  By the time they cleared out and we were seated, it was around 10:15 PM.  So a little bit of a late start, but if I were in the first seating, I would have definitely appreciated that the staff didn’t rush us out exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes after 7 PM.

The dinner began with a quick spiel from one of the organizers at Kurmalliance, and then we were served our first course, “McGrath’s Sunflower (Root, Heart, Petals) Dobin Mushi,” which was listed fourth on the menu on the S.L.F. site but served as a nice starter.

The plating was simple but elegant, with a teardrop-shaped bowl, containing the sunflower hearts, fresh peas, and aromatics, sitting on top of a slate (of slate) that also served as a plate for the sunflower root tempura with sunflower petal salad.

“McGrath’s Sunflower (Root, Heart, Petals) Dobin Mushi” (© 2013 The Offalo)

The chefs came out with pitchers of dashi to pour into the bowls.  The dashi was full-bodied yet mellow, and I wondered if it was vegetarian, as everything else in the dish was, even though a traditional dobin mushi is seafood-based.

“McGrath’s Sunflower (Root, Heart, Petals) Dobin Mushi” (© 2013 The Offalo)

The tempura sunflower roots reminded me of tempura squash flowers.  The batter, made, I’m sure, from the same recipe as is used for their fish/shrimp/scallop tacos during the chefs’ day jobs at Tacos Punta Cabras, was light and not at all greasy.  I didn’t think to do this at the time, but I bet it would have been great to dip a piece of tempura into the broth.

“McGrath’s Sunflower (Root, Heart, Petals) Dobin Mushi” (© 2013 The Offalo)

As he was bringing out the next course, Chef Josh admit under harsh interrogation (i.e. I asked him nicely) that the broth in the dish does contain bonito.  He hinted at learning a secret technique for maximal extraction of vegetable essence, so I could see how, with a bit of tweaking, this would be an amazing vegan dish, as it was already fantastically fit for a pesce-vegetarian.

Speaking of the next course, the “Razor Clam, Carrot Tapioca Pearls, Duck Bacon, Daikon, Smoked Leek Milk” dish was brought out next, again sans soup at first, and with a substitution of one of the originally listed ingredients.

“Razor Clam [Manilla Clam subbed], Carrot Tapioca Pearls, Duck Bacon, Daikon, Smoked Leek Milk” (© 2013 The Offalo)

Unfortunately, due to a mistake