Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bring Your Own Spoon

{Vernal Equinox Feast with Bistro Escondido}

An entrepreneurial friend of mine runs a catered dinner party project called Bistro Escondido. It's like flashmobbing meets geocaching, but for food instead of trinkets. This is how it works: The head honcho blasts her email list with a time, date, menu and secretish location somewhere in the desert, preferably but not always entirely legal.*


The blastees show up at said secretish location armed with a spoon, bowl, and small donation. Last night P. and I found the Bistro Escondido kitchen hidden in an alcove of rocks somewhere out in the desert. As promised, it included a cauldron of fresh seafood purchased on the coast the day before.


Since last fall's feast was such a success they made cioppino (pronounced chi-PEEN-o) again, a San Franciscan seafood stew that calls for copious amounts of fresh fennel, dill, parsley and garlic. YUM.


Early wildflowers sprouted from the rocks all around us in rainbowed tuffets of desert bells, birdsfoot trefoil and stickweed. Unruly desert bouquets perfect for the occasion of friends and strangers coming together to do what P. and I do best:  EAT AROUND A CAMPFIRE.


Some people brought firewood. Others brought blankets. Someone brought their half-blind terrier that had spent 14 months in shelters, and that now, it seemed, was the happiest dog in the desert.


Twenty-five people showed up. By the time darkness settled in the cioppino was ready and the guitars had come out. The rocks glowed. The strangers shared beer and bonded over containers of discarded shells. 


People gave $20 donations to help Sunny buy a new car. Sunny, whose van broke down in Joshua Tree, but who decided to stay.  Sunny, who wields a shell-smashing mallet like a mythical blacksmith. Sunny, who makes a MEAN cioppino.


To get on the Bistro Escondido secret dinner-in-the-desert email list, stop by their blog. Maybe, just maybe, it's enough to entice you to come see what all the fuss is about. 

* If you haven't picked up on the theme of trespassing as central to bigBANG, now you know. It plays a key role in many desert activities.

19 comments:

  1. wow, that looks like so much fun!

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  2. After seeing all the secret dinner clubs in Atlanta and around the country I've been HOPING one would pop up in SoCal! I can't wait for the next dinner!

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  3. reading your blog makes me want to seriously pack up and move to the desert. that looks so f-ing awesome. do you think a secret dinner club will pop up in north jerz? maybe i can form one and have everybody meet up in the meadowlands!

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  4. Oh my heavens Lily!!!! This looks out of control amazing... pick a date and that is it... I am visiting you!! I will even bring you some rose petal cupcakes!!! I can't say it enough but your blog, writing, photos and your wit inspires me!!!! Wishing you the best of days, and I am now swooning over these photos! xo

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  5. Lady Gfunk: it was. Wish you were there.

    Sweet Emilia Jane: come.

    Gio: START ONE! Do it in a park when the weather gets a little better in Jerz. Require guests to show up wither balloons and/or masks.

    Caro: Yes on the rose petal cupcakes, and thanks for the sweet words. I'm blushing.

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  6. I had to leave Jersey but I may yet have to leave LA cause your desert feasts make me dream and want to run away from home with my guitar!

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  7. I think it's illegal to make me this jealous twice in two days.

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  8. Wow. Totally amazing!

    Are those candles in some sort of holder? What are they in?

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  9. Livs: they were wee battery-powered LED tea lights (wildfires are a big concern out here in the desert) nestled in sand (to hold the bags down) and the bags were white paper bakery bags with holes punched in them (willy-nilly, to let out more light).

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  10. there are tons of supper clubs here in ny, although none of them can be as cool as that location! i wanted to start a secret supper club in my apartment. it was going to be my next big project. then reality set in because my dogs are so f'n unruly that i feel bad subjecting strangers to the chaos. Giovanna, if you host one in nj i'd come!

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  11. Lily:
    1) This I want to do. I want this. I'm adding thier blog and looking out for the next one!

    2) I meant to answer your question in response in the Alabama Hills post... but the camera and lens I use: Canon 5d with a 50 mm 1.4 lens

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  12. Amazing, amazing, amazing!!! I heart this in the biggest way possible.

    xo g

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  13. What a cool idea!!! Love everything about it! Lucky lady are you to be part of such fun! By the way- very nice shots of candle lights and the stone landscape of the desert by night. The inclusion of the happiest half blind dog in the desert had my really laughing. Lovely post.

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  14. Found you through the mouse. How I wish we had an awesome desert in London. Maybe some creativity on my part is required. Love it.

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  15. Maybe I WILL start one! I suspect trespassing is more difficult in densely populated areas ... but I'll keep you posted, Julia. Oh and I'd totally go to a secret dinner at your apartment. Unruly dogs will make it even more entertaining!

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  16. Freaking AMAZING! I wish I lived in the desert...*sigh* One can dream of such things. XOXO

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  17. how fantastic is this?!!!! i'm so in love with this idea. wishing more than ever i was closer to the desert!

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  18. Awesome.

    And terriers love the dessert. It's a scientific fact. Sometimes a down vest is necessary to keep them from freezing*, but they still love it.

    *Rather than purchase a dog sized down vest, we just use one of our spare ones, wrap it around the dog in question and then duct tape it to keep it in place.

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  19. *sigh*

    Clearly, I need to try harder to find one of secret London supper clubs. And clearly, I need to get me to your desert.

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