October’s Full Moon Dinner Benefiting the Family Resource Center

October’s full moon fell on Wednesday, October 24th, one week before Halloween, so it seemed fitting to choose a Halloween related theme for our Full Moon Dinner. Our chefs came up with the theme of Let’s Play Dress Up playing on the holiday tradition of dressing up in costume. The evening’s playful menu, designed by Head Chef Lori, featured food in disguise using molecular gastronomy to transform familiar flavors into unexpected dishes. The October Full Moon Dinner was also a benefit for the Family Resource Center who received the proceeds from the event totaling over $800.

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To begin the meal diners were served a surprise amuse bouche of dehydrated olive soil, radish, and goat cheese foam made using whipped xanthan gum. The first course followed, a watermelon salad with compressed watermelon, basil gelee, feta mousse, and a walnut lace cookie. The light, slightly sweet starter was paired with a 2017 Sauvion Les Fondettes Sancerre.

 

For the second course our chefs constructed a seafood Neapolitan tower from crispy dough layers and fresh caught fish served over a red pepper roulie. The seafood course was paired with a chilled glass of 2015 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuisse.

 

 

Taking a twist on a classic French dessert, the third course presented by Chef Lori was a savory foie gras creme brulee served with a glass of 2014 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas from the central coast of California.

 

 

Our palate cleansing intermezzo followed, a perfect bite of liquid pea ravioli spheres served with a sprig of fresh mint. Pulling from her molecular gastronomy knowledge Chef Lori used cold oil spherification to make the unique dish dropping cooled oil into warm agar (a vegetarian alternative to gelatin made from a seaweed base) to form the ravioli spheres.

 

 

Our smoked beef tartare for the fourth course was served still smoking (see the video on our Facebook page), the technique adding a fun and aromatic element to the dish that complimented the savory aspects of the beef and the egg yolk, which was cured with alder wood smoked sea salt and sugar for 16 hours. The tartare was served with a fresh herb salad and a glass of 2010 Numanthia Tempranillo, known for its deep and dense flavors.

6th dessertDessert for the October Full Moon Dinner was a beetroot, dark chocolate, raspberry, and black olive dish conceived through the principles of Foodpairing, a culinary technique that creates dishes by matching the key aromas for each ingredient. In this dish the beetroot shares woody notes with the chocolate and olives while also matching to the lighter, floral notes of the raspberries. Put all together the seemingly disparate ingredients act in unison to produce a uniquely harmonious dessert. It was paired with a glass of 2013 Terraza Single Vineyard Malbec, a wine with complimentary berry and chocolate flavors.

group picProceeds from the dinner, $825 in total, were donated to the Family Resource Center , a non-profit group that works tirelessly to end family violence in the Virgin Islands and offer support and shelter for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. At St. John Catering we are proud to support this local USVI non-profit and want to thank everyone at our October Full Moon Dinner that helped us raise money for their cause.

Our next Full Moon Dinner is Saturday, November 24th. The theme will be Black & White as November’s full moon is the White Moon and the date of the full moon falls just after Black Friday. Like our previous Full Moon Dinners, the meal will feature a one night only menu with five delectable courses for $95 per person. For our November Full Moon Dinner, a Caribbean Wine Club pairing will also be available for an additional $30 per person.

The remaining Full Moon Dinner dates for the 2018/2019 winter season are:

  • November 24, 2019 // THEME: Black & White
  • December 2018: no full moon dinner
  • January 21, 2019 // THEME: Packages & Parcels
  • February 19, 2019 // THEME: Little Baby Things

Full Moon Dinners are held at Lucky Chops Lounge in Cruz Bay (at the former Fish Trap restaurant space) and hosted in partnership with St. John Catering. Full Moon Dinners are one night only events with limited available seating, so reservations are required (340-690-3868).

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October’s Full Moon Dinner happening NEXT WEEK (10/24)

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We’re so excited to be coming up on the second FULL MOON DINNER of 2018, which is happening Wednesday, October 24th at Lucky Chops Lounge. Last month’s dinner, Arabian Nights, was a hit with a menu that showcased the exotic cuisine of the Middle East and was inspired by the Harvest Full Moon.

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For October’s Full Moon Dinner the chefs are drawing on the Halloween season for inspiration with the theme of the night being Let’s Play Dress Up. The one-night-only menu will feature food in disguise as the chefs use molecular gastronomy and their own creativity to transform ordinary ingredients into fantastic creations as beautiful as they are delicious(see full menu below). For this Full Moon Dinner there will be a wine pairing to go with the five course meal, and the wines served will also be available for purchase at wholesale price on the evening of the event.

Reservations are required for all Full Moon Dinners, so call today to reserve your spot for this one-night-only culinary event (340-690-3868)

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Arabian Nights for the Harvest Full Moon Dinner

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.Arabian menu + drinksInspired 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.

1_amuseDiners 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.

1st course.jpgThe 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.Main & Dessert.jpgThe 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.diner guestsWe 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.

group photoNext 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

 

Full Moon Dinners Return

Before the storms last September, St. John Catering had the tradition of hosting monthly full moon dinners at our Windy Level Event Center. These monthly pop-up events were popular with locals and tourists looking for a unique, one of a kind dining experience on St. John. Each full moon dinner featured a themed menu and optional drink pairing served beneath a beautiful full moon on the patio at Windy Level Event Center.

Pre full moon dinners

However, this tradition stopped when Irma hit and the Windy Level Event Center was destroyed. Since then owner Mathayom and his crew have been working hard to rebuild St John Catering finding a new home at Lucky Chops Lounge in Cruz Bay. Now, a year after the storms the tradition of monthly full moon dinners is returning this time being hosted at Lucky Chops Lounge.

In the past menus for full moon dinners have ranged from explorations of local cuisine and produce, such as at our Crucian Collaboration Full Moon Dinner, to bountiful samplings of exotic and unique flavors such as our Thai One On or Kickin’ Ash dinners. For the return of Full Moon Dinners on September 24th the theme will be Arabian Nights, a celebration of bounty and thankfulness in honor of the harvest moon.

Arabian Nights menu

Reservations are recommended as seating will be limited for this special event; call Lucky Chops to make a reservation (340-690-3868). If you can’t make the first Full Moon Dinner mark your calendar with the upcoming Full Moon Dinner dates as this will again be a monthly event:

  • October 24: Let’s Play Dress Up
  • November 24: Black Friday, White Moon
  • December: no full moon dinner
  • January 21: Packages & Parcels
  • February 19: Little Baby Things

Like us on Facebook or follow our blog for updates and the latest information on full moon dinners and other special events.

August 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Crucian Collaboration #1

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When I went to St. Croix for their annual Taste of St. Croix this year, http://tasteofstcroix.com/ I was once again taken aback by the level of talent that the chefs there have on the regular, as well as the relationships that they cultivate with the local farmers. The agriculture community on Twin Cities is very in touch with the culinary world, and the final result is a food scene that is mature and robust.

While we do have our maintain our own garden next to the kitchen, have an organic farm in Coral Bay, and work with local fishing charters for product, the variety of locally sourced ingredients on St. Croix simply eclipses what we have on St. John.

As I was sitting at breakfast with other guest judges and one of the main organizers and producers of the event, Jane Watkins, and was expressing my jealousy of the chefs on our sister island having such abundant access to locally grown produce, she suggested that I try to find a way to collaborate with some of the passionate restaurateurs and chefs there. So I took her suggestion.

It has taken some time to organize, but this month, we welcomed our first guest chef of what we hope is many. Ryan Bennett is a former co-worker of one of our chefs, Vince Alterio, from back in their Chicago days, and has the culinary background to stand up with the best of them, including time working in some premier restaurants in Chicago, such as Gather and Graham Elliot before moving to St. Croix.

He is currently at Brew STX, an establishment not necessarily known for fine dining, but Ryan designed a menu that was both eclectic and familiar at the same time. We joined forces with Paul Kessock at Bellows International to pair a trio of Rose’s with the courses.

August’s menu was 90-95% locally-sourced and featured Caribbean-inspired flavors.  Here’s what our guests had to look forward to:

Sofrito Shellfish Consommé: Butter Sauce Conch / Avocado Puree / Salt Fish Lavash / Pickled Green Papaya / Fresh Racao

Pairing: Miraval Rose’

Roast Goat Roti: Crispy Roti /Tender Goat / Sweet Potato Puree & Chip / Mint / Turmeric / Coconut Rice

Pairing: Montes Cherub Rose’

Fruit: Mango ice cream / Pineapple Johnny Cake / Coconut Crunch / Lemongrass Gastrique / Basil / Crispy Plantain

Pairing: Josh Cellars Rose’

In addition, Chef Ryan and Chef Vince treated our patrons to some “one-bite” amuse bouche style plates.  This was the first time I got to attend as a guest, and although I won’t divulge what those one-bites were, I can tell you they were delicious!  OK, I may have had some wine and can’t remember properly at this time, so instead I will distract you with pictures of food.

The soup course was meticulously plated prior to being dropped in front of the customers.  The broth was a concoction of Thai Basil Tea and Habanera Peppers, and was poured table side from French presses after the bowls were set down.

Chef Ryan sourced out locally made roti shells on St. Croix, and chose to plate with braised local goat, sweet potato (two ways: chip and puree), mint, turmeric, and coconut rice.  All of the guests completed decimated their plates.

 

“Fruit” dessert: As promised, a combination of tropical flavors that seemed to explode on the plate, as well as on the palate.

We look forward to welcoming Chef Frank Robinson, a St. Croix native, in November for the second in our Collaboration Series.

Special thanks to St. John Inn for housing our guest chefs and providing a special rate for anyone wishing to stay the night and attend one of our dinners.  Check them out here: http://www.stjohninn.com/?gclid=CKO144bo8NUCFUxahgod9ckDAA

September’s dinner will be around the Harvest Moon and feature foods from the Great Midwest.  Friday, September 8th, so call us to reserve early!  340-777-5464.

 

 

July 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Thai One On

Sorry for the late post!  We have been working very hard in what is the busiest July I can remember, which is great, of course, but also comes at a cost: less time for the beach, friends, music, exercise, and obviously, blog posts.

We did still have time enough to throw together a Full Moon Dinner, and it was our most popular ever, with 70 guests.  Since I had just gone to Thailand and Vietnam to visit some family and had brought back authentic spices and ingredients, it seemed fitting to share that with our guests, especially since there are no real Thai or Vietnamese restaurants in the Virgin Islands, at least that I know of.  To keep the experience even more authentic, and to make it (a little) easier on ourselves, we decided to make the dinner family-style, since most meals in Thailand and Vietnam are served this way.  I guess that’s why I always want my girlfriend to split entrees with me when we go out.  I like variety.

Courses came out one after the other, and since we were in the kitchen getting things out in a hurry, I completely forgot to take any pictures of anything.  So, to fill whatever visual cravings you might have, I am going to post some pictures from my trip instead.  The trip inspired me to connect with more of my roots and family, and was an opportunity to show my son another side of the world.

We paired up with Southern Glazer’s and brought in a few different Sierra Nevada Beers as well as some Suntory Whiskey for the event.

Here is the menu we designed for July 10th, 2017:

In addition to the Curry Trio (Massaman, Panang, and Green), Green Papaya Salad with fresh, local Papaya, Spicy Beef Salad, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Fish Cakes, Son-in-Law Eggs, Sticky Rice, Jasmine Rice, and Teas, we also had some some Bun (Rice Noodles), Tom Ka Soup, and array of sauces and pickled vegetables.  We also finished with a Thai Iced Tea Popsicle.

All of the food was born of the idea that we wanted to treat folks to an experience as close to what they would get in Southeast Asia as possible.  The extremely hot weather certainly helped us achieve our goal!

Here are some of the places, faces, and flavors that helped this idea come to fruition…

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‘Pon de River!

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The mountains above Chiang Mai

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Chatuchak Market

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Reclining Buddha

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Heart to the sky

 

Our journey to us first to Bangkok, where my son and I met up with many members of our family.  It was his first time meeting my father’s side, since we live so far away.  From there, we headed to Chiang Mai to spend some time connecting with even more family (28 members in all made it to this part of the visit).

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Lyric, Hua, and Nick enjoying lunch

 

A quick few days in Vietnam took us from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi to Halong Bay, and back to Ho Chi Minh.

With markets all over the place, it was hard to resist filling our suitcases with fantastic flavors.  We definitely did not bring back any fresh fruits or vegetables, as per the USDA regulations.  Wouldn’t want to risk losing our Global Entry statuses, after all.

 

Throughout, it was an amazing trip filled with new experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Dreaming about going back as soon as possible and spending even more time there.

I hope that our guests enjoyed the evening and got the feeling that they were transported to another locale for just a few hours.

August’s Full Moon Dinner was another amazing time.  Stay tuned for the next update, soon come.

 

June 2017 Full Moon Dinner – I Bahn Heh

Chefs: Mathayom Vacharat, Vincent Alterio, Patrick Ryan

Gardner: Mathew Gibney

The Crucian Dictionary defines the term ‘Bahn Heh’ or ‘Baan Ya’ as, “Born here. Native. Belonger. This expression, part of the vernacular since time immemorial, is increasingly heard as immigrant islanders assert themselves in the community. This is indeed unfortunate as one realizes that the most defiant shouters of ‘Baan ya’ are themselves children of an earlier wave of immigrants. [First seen in print in the St. Croix Avis, 18 Feb. 1868.]”

To that end, with St. John Carnival in full swing, we wanted the June Full Moon menu to celebrate what we felt was an amalgam of many of the different flavors that were brought to the Virgin Islands, added to the culinary melting pot, and presented as what are now considered local dishes.  We also wanted to use what is sourced locally, as is custom practice for our kitchen.

Of course, we had to put our own twist on things as well, so non-traditional was the norm.  We linked up with Bellows and West Indies to pick a variety of wine selections.

In keeping with our commitment to give back to the world community, we decided to match any contributions to our beloved Pan Dragons steel pan orchestra.  Our patrons generously donated at total of $325, for a grand total of $650 donated!  Thank you to everyone who gave.  Feel free to continue showing the music program some love here: https://www.gofundme.com/st-john-love-city-pan-dragon-steel

Without further ado, here is the menu:

SLOW SEASON: Windy Level Baby Romaine / Smoked Eggplant / Stuffed Crouton / Coconut Hot Pepper Sauce
Pairing: Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc

Flavor Injectors!

Smoked Eggplant, Stuffed Crouton, Hot Sauce, and Baby Romaine

The greens, including baby romaine and Swiss chard, were picked from our garden and shocked in ice water.  The eggplant came from the lovely ladies who have their produce stand in Cruz Bay Park, and we smoked it for about 2 hours.  The crouton was seared and then stuffed with a Buttermilk-Herb dressing.  The hot sauce was inserted into flavor injectors and positioned into the crouton.  Voila!

CARNIVAL TIME: Wahoo Kallaloo / Lobster Dumpling / Saltfish Escabeche
Pairing: William Hill Central Coast Chardonnay

Salt fish with a smoky essence, lobster dumpling in kallalo

I see food and I eat it!

A semi-traditional Kallaloo was made with Okra from Ridge to Reef Farm in St. Croix, celery, onions, flavor peppers, malabar spinach, lobster stock, and lots of love!  A dumpling with chunks of Rock Lobster tail was added at the end, and on the side, we served an escabeche of salt fish, topped with passion fruit from our vine, and placed under a glass dish filled with apple wood smoke.  Oregano was chosen for the garnish.

CORAL BAY MASSIVE: Salt Pond Salt-Crusted Pork / Pumpkin Johnny Cake / Jerk Mushroom Sauce
Pairing: Domaine Carneros Avante Garde Pinot Noir

Salt Pond is a treasure trove for harvesting our local salt supply, and our crew brought back about a year’s worth last month.  We decided to crust and roast a pork loin, then add a whole bunch of pumpkin flavor by way of pumpkin spice Johnny Cakes, pumpkin slaw, and pumpkin puree.  We finished the plate off with a Jerk-seasoned mushroom sauce, the ribs that were trimmed from the loin, and fresh scallion.

DRUNKEN GOAT: Mango Beer-Braised Goat / Green Pea Pastry / Oxtail Demi / Spicy Tomato Jam
Pairing: Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec

We ended up using mutton instead of goat as our main protein, but then after making the oxtail demi, decided to mix the oxtail meat in with the mutton to create a delicious partnership of flavors.  Planning for something like a deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, Chef Vinny took our peas and made a crispy flatbread from them.  The spicy tomato jam cut through the richness of the dish with spice and acidity, while hints of mango perfumed the meat.  A pistachio crust was then applied to brighten the plate and add a bit of crunchy texture.

RECOVERY AND THERAPY: Sweet Plantain Monfongo Napoleon / Champagne-Sorrel Sabayon / Chocolate
Pairing: Batsiolo Moscato Bosc D’La Rey

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We have had an abundant fruit season this year, and so plantains also made the menu.  Yes, it’s true that Mofongo is orginially from Puerto Rico, but since they are so very close and we are told to, “Love thy neighbor”, we figured why not incorporate the dish somehow.  Ripe plantains were cooked, mashed, and seasoned with a bit of chili, then formed into cakes seared.  Spiced Tuille Cookies were par-baked, cut, and finished off.  The Champagne Sabayon was infused with Sorrel Liqueur from St. John’s very own Sharelle Francis.  Plating involved Chocolate Ganache, and torching the Sabayon to create a burnt marshmallow flavor.  Eating it was like taking a weekend trip to visit Boricua.

Next month, for July, we will be exploring the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, and serving a fantastic family-style menu with beers and Suntori Whiskey.  Come Thai One On with us on Monday, July 10th.  Call our office during business hours to reserve a seat for only $55pp   340-777-5464

We are also SUPER excited at the prospect of having our first guest chef appearance in August by way of Digby Stridiron of Balter in St. Croix!  http://www.balterstx.com/ Saturday, August 5th is the date.   Mark it in your calendars now; it’s going to be epic.  We hope to have a guest chef about every three months.

We will be posting our upcoming concepts for the year very soon, so keep an eye on our homepage and our Facebook page for details.

Until next time, enjoy Carnival and the Holiday week!