I’ve long espoused the idea that foodie culture rose from the smashed emotions of the Great Recession swizzled with Yelp. But lately I’ve been reading the theories of food as entertainment—a phrase that immediately rings true. Because foodie culture also rose along side Food Network, increasing obesity, grocery abundance, Salt Bae, and other bastions of 21st century American culture.
But for longer than that, food has been the fuel of the party season. Entertainment not aimed to sell us more or make us docile, but to share a bit of joy with friends, and friends of friends. Touring chef, Joshua Ploeg, tied it all together in an unironic David Bowie themed dinner theater for Beth’s birthday.
Is Ploeg’s food Michelin star worthy. LOL, of course not. His food is crafty, sarcastic, joyous, and frankly more fun then any tweezers plated, food as art, tasting menu could ever wish to be.
Dinner starts off wet with the Ploeg Ziggied out and serving up “In the wilds of Oh Lordy, Oh Lordy, You Know I Need Some Iced Tea”—a hibiscus lavender brew spiked with fresh mint and self-administered rum.
Doped up on 70’s cocktail party air, the meal opens with “Some Cat Was Layin’ Down Some Rock ‘n’ Roll Veggie Shrimps.” Adorned in Japanese robes, Ploeg shimmied little plates of turnip and jicama “shrimps” towards us. The bits are skewered with mini potatoes and broiled zucchini over a swirl of cocktail and garlic sauce.
In the kitchen, baby leaves turned matte side up. Plated as “Nights Are Warm and the Greens Are Young,” the salad hides bits of rainbow carrots, Golden Years of young tomatoes, crescents of shaved fennel, and black lentil sprouts under a wild drizzle of sweetly aged mulberry balsamic.
The flair of “Living Nostalgia… Humble Pie or Bitter Fruit?” overshadowed the DJ performance on the soup course. A shallow dish of slow cooked squash and cucumber layered soup capped in a semi-sweet almond crust tart stuffed with black garlic pate. To the side, a sweet tamarind and bitter melon chutney bleeds slowly into the broth.
As our ears filled with the ashes and melancholy of Major Tom, the “…But the Little Bean Wheels Are Following Me, Oh No Not Again” soothes our entry into the closing acts. Irregular pats of fava bean cakes arrives under a sandy toss of garlic herb crumble and creamy splats of pale pesto. Beside it, hearts of fancy mushrooms and roasted beets come obscured in the crumble as well.
With miniature Muppet dressed in trash bags and jute, Ploeg dons the classic fitted pants and shock of white hair of to deliver the Magic Dance of “Slime and Snails, or Corny Dog Tails?” Bamboo skewers of pecan caramel came battered and fried in sweet corn breading. The tip rests in a muck of coconut vanilla ice kreem snails swirling with blackberry slime sauce and bits of crunchy praline.
Joshua Ploeg: http://joshuaploeg.blogspot.com/