Was I ready to strike, tear and chew on June 15th?!?! Was I ever!!! Felt like I found the chocolate bar with the Golden Ticket when I received my acceptance email into Craig Thornton’s exclusive underground dinner party, Wolvesden.
I can’t remember now how I found out about Craig, the wolf, or Wolvesden, but I put my name on their mailing list and have requested a seat quite a few times, to no avail. Upwards of 1,000 foodies, eaters and curious adventurers from all around the states sing, beg and rhyme for their chance at supper. My time had finally come.
Dinner’s location is kept under wraps until the day of the dinner party. There are very strict guidelines in the email about how to apply, communication methods and what to do when you show up. Dinner is served at a 12-person communal table. It’s BYOB for this one-seating feast and the price is a cash donation of an amount you feel comfortable with.
We showed up to what turned out to be Craig’s New York-esque loft in Downtown Los Angeles. Cortez, his right-hand man, greeted us and brought us up to the loft.
Not going to lie, I was a bit intimidated when I showed up. With all the strict guidelines and rules I figured Craig would be a really tough guy and didn’t know how much fun it would be. Wow. Was I ever wrong. The evening was so casual and inviting and Craig was down-to-earth and exuded passion for cooking. We came in and met the other dinner party guests, a mix of couples, friends and singletons from around Los Angeles. We swapped eating adventures, favorite restos and salivated over the excitement for dinner. The dynamics were perfect and we were all friends by the second course. The evening far surpassed my expectations and will be hard to forget.
What I loved most about the evening was that we dined on 10 phenomenal courses and in between, got to get up and watch Craig and his sous chef, Julian (a.k.a. Dim Sum Pup), in action. Devastated that my pictures didn't turn out as good as I had hoped, but oh well... enough writing… let’s get to the food!
The evening started off with malt butter, which we smeared on thick pieces of crusty sourdough bread.
First Course: Potato soup with crème fraiche, seared scallop and chive flowers. So thick and rich with flavor. It comforted my innards as I heaped spoonfuls into my mouth and gingerly cut the tender scallop. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Second Course: Ocean trout with leaks braised with prosecco and red currants. Such a stark contrast in color. The flavors melded perfectly and the red currants really added a crunchy/tart kick to the dish. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Third Course: King crab leg, pimento cheese and sourdough. Huge chunks of crab leg paired with the pimento cheese was fantastic. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Fourth Course: Haricot verts, apricot, peach yogurt, horseradish meringue and smoked almond granola. This looked like a work of art when it arrived. Who would have ever thought to put all these starkly different flavors together? Being a chef is truly and uncompromising art, not a science. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Fifth Course: Rabbit, glazed carrots, radish, celery, pie dough, raw pea and sage flower. The deconstructed grown-up pot pie! Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Sixth Course: Pork, steamed bun, green onion and bok choy in pork sauce. The depth of the pork sauce politely enveloped the rich pig’s head and trotter meat. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Seventh Course: Verjus, lemon verbena. The palate cleanser.
Eighth Course: Squab, jus, hen of the woods mushrooms and pickled cherries. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but this was my favorite course aside from the desserts. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Ninth Course: Blueberries sorbet, green tea cake, black sesame shortbread and kuboso curd. Unbelievable. A work of art. An intense combination of flavors and textures. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Tenth Course: Freeze dried strawberries, shortbread ice-cream strawberry and Pop Rocks. My mind… and my mouth… exploded when I dove into this dessert. Gorgeous. Playful. Sensational. Dim Sum Pup's pic.
Craig started out working in a sushi restaurant and on slow days would whip up hot, small plates for patrons with whatever extra fish there was. These off-the-cuff plates turned into a regularly-demanded dinner accompaniment. One patron drove from San Diego just to taste Craig’s dishes. He finally invited Craig to be the chef at one of his dinner parties, and Wolvesden evovled from there. What I respected about Craig is that he is all about the food. He could have opened up a resto by now, but as head chef, his priortities would have changed from prepping, to paperwork, from roasting to reprimanding, and his passion for cooking would have been lost.
What an adventure of incredible tastes, animals, flavor combinations and textures. I definitely came curious and left sated.
Wolvesmouth. Los Angeles, California.