When the Harvest Full Moon rose over St. John on September 24th we welcomed guests to our first Full Moon Dinner since Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. And it seemed fitting that our first full moon dinner would be beneath the Harvest Moon.
The Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the first day of fall, was named for farmers putting in long hours in the autumn to work their land and harvest their summer crops. Though there isn’t much farming on St. John now, this past year we’ve seen many hard days and long nights as we too work our land rebuilding St. John post-hurricanes. However, the Harvest Moon isn’t just about work; it’s also about the bounty of the earth, about reaping what you sow, and being thankful for what you have. That message also rang true this year for all of us as at St. John Catering.
So when we started to talk about the return of full moon dinners and our first dinner in September, we wanted a theme that encompassed both the the indefatigable nature represented by the Harvest Moon and the abundance. What we came up with was Arabian Nights; the stories of a woman (Shahrazad) who, for a thousand and one nights, worked to save her own life by placating the murderous King with fantastic stories of adventure and opulence eventually becoming the Queen. From hard work to bounty, so went the story of Shahrazad, and so too was our theme for the evening.Inspired by Arabian Nights, which was a collection of stories from around Asia and the Middle East, Chef Jehoiada “Jeh” Roberts conceptualized the menu for the Arabian Nights Full Moon Dinner so that it would highlight dishes from around the region.
Diners began the meal with a special amuse bouche of a Dueling Beet Hummus Cucumber Cup prepared by the Head Chef of the evening, Lori Dudkin, along with a glass of spiked carrot kombucha with cantaloupe juice. The kombucha was brewed by our sister company and co-host for the evening, Lucky Chops Lounge.
Next came the first course: Fried Eggplant with Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds. Chef Lori’s daughter even made a special trip to St. Thomas just for said pomegranate because it is such an important ingredient in traditional Middle-Eastern cuisine, having been cultivated and cooked within the region since ancient times.
The second course served was Shorabit Jarjir, a red lentil and squash soup. Its earthy flavors were perfectly suited for our first fall dinner (autumn having officially started just two days before on Sept. 22). We served our soup with house-made grilled flat bread, and for guests having the drink pairings a glass of Alois Lageder 2012 Pinot Bianco.
To cleanse the palate, we next served a vegan Mango Sorbet, which obtained its creaminess from the natural texture of the fruit.
The main course for our Arabian Nights dinner was Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar. This dish comes from Iraq and is an intensely fragrant yellow spice-rubbed chicken that we served with a pearl couscous that was tossed with bits of dried fruit and almonds for crunch. The dish was paired with a crisp glass of Simi Chardonnay 2016 Sonoma County.The meal ended on sweet note with a bountiful piece of Semolina Coconut Cake with Orange and Rose Water and a glass of Bedin Rose Frizzante, a Merlot Rose from Veneto, Italy. Chef Lori made some Hibiscus Syrup to brighten the plate and cut through the dense cake. Guests also got a sweet treat to take home with them, a piece of handmade baklava.We hope all our guest who attended the Arabian Nights Full Moon Dinner enjoyed the evening. For us it was not only a pleasure to cook for our guests, but also a milestone in our recovery story. Hosting the Full Moon Dinner at Lucky Chops Lounge meant restarting a pre-storm tradition in our new post-storm home, our personal bounty after a year of hard work. The creativity and camaraderie of our shared meal was invigorating, and a wonderful reminder of why we started this culinary tradition back in 2016.
Next month the full moon falls on Wednesday, October 24th. Our theme for evening will be Let’s Play Dress Up, a lighthearted meal inspired by the costumes of Halloween that will feature food in disguise. Seating is limited and reservations are required (340-690-3868)
Additional dates for 2018/2019 include:
- Oct. 24th: Let’s Play Dress Up
- Nov. 24th: Black Friday, White Moon
- December: no full moon dinner
- Jan. 21st: Packages & Parcels
- Feb. 19th: Little Baby Things