Ever since I saw the extremely charismatic Sarah Nelson speak at Creative Mornings, I’ve been wanting to attend an event at 18 Reasons, where she is Executive Director. I figured their monthly Community Dinner was a good place to start. It’s the last Wednesday of every month, the food changes every month and it’s only $15. For dinner in San Francisco! Matzo ball soup was on the menu for January and since this is one of my favorite comfort foods I signed me and my guy up for tickets months beforehand. Good thing, too, because it was completely SOLD OUT.
I wasn’t quite sure about the format. Would we be eating in parallel with other people and pretending they weren’t at our table, à la Nopa? Would we be interacting with total strangers? Definitely the latter.
I chose a table with an approachable looking trio at it, we introduced ourselves and immediately starting talking about food. I told everyone that as an ex-New Yorker I missed having access to so much good Jewish food. One of my dining companions recommended Miller’s East Coast Deli on Polk and I look forward to checking that place out. A family of three joined our group and our table was full. I saw the staff bringing an extra table from the back trying to shoehorn a few more people in to the room. We were elbow to elbow, but I found it lively versus annoying.
The challah, baked by chef Danny Ernst, was the best I’ve tasted. The rolls were a beautiful caramel color with just the right texture and flavor. On the table were ramekins of rich creamy butter with flakes of salt on top. Everyone kept asking for the butter. It went up and down the long wooden table like an air hockey puck.
The chef who made the matzo ball soup, Annie Obermeyer, came out and said a few words about what the soup meant to her (comfort, celebration) and why she chose to make it. It was delicious. A refined, composed soup, with two medium sized matzo balls in one section, leafy dark greens (which I’m guessing were spinach) in another, white chicken meat tucked to one side and a beautiful island of pink pickled vegetables. The taste of fresh dill came through nicely and the soup wasn’t too salty like so many other matzo ball soups.
For dessert, we were told that there were coconut macaroons near the door to take with us on the way out. People were lingering and I think this was their gentle way of letting us know that it was time to wrap things up. The macaroons were monstrous in both size and deliciousness. According to his bio for the class, Danny, maker of the macaroons, works at Butter Love Bakeshop so that’s another place on my list of San Francisco places to visit.
Looking forward to taking a class at 18 Reasons in the near future.