Dining table, kitchen, guests and Carson Daly's film crew.
Last night I found myself deep within the Wolvesden; at the home of Craig Thornton. Formerly at Bouchon and currently private chef to Nicholas Cage, Thornton, or Wolvesmouth, his handle, has given birth to an underground, intimate supper club at his home, high up the Hollywood Hills. With only his “crazy friend, Cortez” to assist, Thornton serves eight guests between 12-16 courses each week.
The intriguing thing about these dinners, aside from the visually, stunning, exceptional and entirely conceptual food, is the beauty within its structure. Firstly, these are BYOB. With the exception of water, you’re on your own. Second, there are no servers. Cortez (I like this guy) does a lot of the putting down and picking up of the plates, but everyone chips in if so compelled. And really, after about course number six, one almost needs a reason to get up for a moment. Third, and most enchanting, diners are given an envelope at evening’s end to pay what they deem appropriate. It’s like the dining equivalent of the Summerhill School. It’s food communism.
This is beautiful to me. It is simultaneously the most exclusive and inclusive environment I can imagine. Plus, that view. That house. I felt like I was in a Michael Mann film.
Although I have nothing to compare it to as it my first time attending, I imagine this was an unusual night, even for the Wolf. Carson Daly’s crew was there, filming. While I found the lighting offensive, both in general and for my nighttime makeup, it was great for shooting the food. Anyway, everyone was pleasant and added an (even more) interesting vibe to the affair.
I will not do a dish by dish breakdown. Those of you who read me regularly know that would turn this post into a Tolstoy novel. Plus, I can’t think of a single person that shouldn’t/wouldn’t attend one of these dinners for themselves (not that the menu would be the same). Admittedly, I rarely even write about dining out or other people’s food all that much anyway. But I do think this evening deserves mad ink. Hell, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all day.
I guess it’s time to discuss the food, no?
This man loves food. Actually, this man loves a lot. But I can really see his love for food and all that that entails: the Earth, animals, vegetation, growth, energy, life, beauty, change, history, people. He is welcoming, interested and irreverent. I guess I’m telling you that I think Craig is an artist. Oof.
Let's do this.
chicken liver. poached pear. compressed asian pear. pear gel. brioche.
corn soup. pickled chili. crab.
clam. mussel. tobanjan. clam mussel jus.
primal. bone marrow. roasted sweetbread. pickled onion. chive.
tomato. bacon powder. bacon. baby romaine. various tomatoes. blue basil.
arctic char. beet. olive oil. tarragon.
pork belly. cornbread buttermilk puree. huckleberry. chervil.
turbot. whole roasted. its own sauce.
rabbit saddle. rabbit glazed chanterelle. lobster mushroom. doug fir. vermouth.
pork cheek. black vinegar. kecap manis. chili. chewy rice noodle. pluot.
ants on a log. celery gin ice. peanut powder. raisin leather.
boar. red wine. orange. tagliatelle. gremolata. pecorino.
mexican wedding cake. bitter caramel banana. cajeta. nopales glass. lime styrofoam. mexican chocolate.
doughnut ice cream. coffee pop rocks.
Yes. You just saw 15 courses of food. And you know what? Everything was sublime.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
I only hope we can join forces at some point for some fun kitchen concoctions...