I landed in Los Angeles last Saturday at 10am, picked up my rental Chevy and made a bee-line to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. I would be cooking dinner for 30 for the the Los Angeles edition of The Fainting Club. I dumped the contents of my suitcase into the trunk of the car and meandered through the market, filling my rolling bag with baby parsnips, heirloom carrots, pomegranates and little gem lettuces. I scored some impressively long and slender leeks for Leeks Vinaigrette, a classic French dish that would be topped with hard-boiled egg, anchovy and flat-leaf parsley. The sight of California produce temporarily abated my travel fatigue, which promptly returned when I found a parking ticket stuck to my windshield; this is the price you pay for sunshine and peerless produce.
My goal was to keep this meal as simple as possible (not my forté). I would be crashing my friends Liz and Isaac’s house and cooking this entire dinner in their Highland Park kitchen. This was a new kind of challenge for me. I am accustomed to cooking for events without much help, but I usually have my own kitchen to trash in the process. I referred to Alice Waters’ leek recipe, adding nigella seeds (a slightly nutty/oniony version of a sesame seed) and using my egg yolk to make a yellow dust (pro-tip: push yolks through a fine mesh sieve to get a delicate texture out of the normally dense yellows). I riffed on the ABC Kitchen Roasted Carrot salad, featured on the blog awhile back, adding seasonal pomegranate seeds, sweet limes, baby gem lettuce and candied citrus slices. Sadly, there are not photos of my fresh persimmon dessert, served with labneh, pomegranate molasses and candied nuts and pink peppercorn, but by that point in the evening, I was too exhausted to bother with photos.
Our guests were selected by myself and artist Zoe Crosher, the founder of the “club.” They included KCRW Good Food producer Gillian Ferguson, artists Cammie Staros and Sarah Rara, curator/designer Lauren Mackler and Getty curator of public programs, Sarah Cooper, to name a few. We managed to work with local radio project KChung Radio to record the guests interviewing one another throughout the night. Each fabulous woman was paired with a stranger and asked to share their literal or metaphorical “fainting story” on air. And by “fainting story,” we are referring to a time when a group of women came to your aid. A memory of some public moment of distress that was lessened by kind words or actions of one ore more ladies you admire. Once these recordings are edited, they will be downloadable from the KChung Radio archive.
*Special thanks to Luke Fischbeck of KChung Radio for his invitation to be on the radio, to Liz Wasserman and Isaac Resnikoff for the use of their kitchen, and to Lydia Glenn-Murray for her kitchen assistance (Lydia’s salad is coming soon to SFP).