Valentine’s Day might be a commercial invention by the Hallmarks of the world, capitalising on Roman and Christian history, but there’s something to be said about celebrating love. I’m extremely fortunate that my partner Jeremy is never shy when it comes to spoiling me, but nonetheless I still love getting a big bunch of ruby red roses delivered to work.
While normally when February 14th rolls around, we find ourselves out for dinner or a movie or some kind of adventure, this year Jeremy was rostered on to work. And that’s how I found myself attending a Stranger Danger Galentines dinner as part of Fringe WORLD Festival.
With my girl gang Laura, Ai-Ling, Andjelka and Kira in tow, we frocked up and headed over to Lamont Bishops House for a six course dinner ($111 per ticket), and stories of love, sex and heartbreak by some notable speakers.
The outdoor garden was decked out beautifully. Strung lights, a happy buzz and of course the signature Stranger Danger cards which have made their dinners so iconic.
If you haven’t heard of these guys, they’re doing some very cool stuff. Eight strangers join together for a night of conversation, delicious food and the opportunity to meet new people. Whether connections are forged for a few hours or years to come, they’re offering something really different to the market. And the response has been huge.
Our Galentines dinner was a change of course being that we could attend with friends, but the cards on the table all included different questions we could ask to get to know each other even better. They guaranteed lots of laughs, and provided great entertainment as we broke bread for our first course (literally being that it was a duck liver parfait doughnut with fresh fig). A little bit plain for my liking, it cried out for salt – which sadly we discovered throughout the night was a common theme. While I have a heavy hand for seasoning, I wasn’t alone in this observation.
Our second entree was a grilled peach and lobster salad with wild rocket and almond milk dressing. Simple and quite delicate, I thought this had a certain charm to it.
The lobster was a little lost on the plate in some bites – but it was well complimented by the fruit accompaniment.
The truffled chicken polpetti with petite gnocchi, peas and bacon was our first of the mains, and sadly a little lacklustre. I wanted to love this – after all I am a gnocchi fiend. But given truffles are out of season, I don’t tend to enjoy them like I do in the heart of June – and the flavour wasn’t very strong with the chicken.
The gnocchi looked and tasted beautiful, they were the stand out on the plate. But the slightly watery sauce on the plate detracted and left me feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Our second main of snapper fillet with whipped potatoes, charred cos and saffron beurre blanc was a much stronger offering – and my favourite dish for the evening. It was damn delicious… but it also was small and brought with it a dawning by us all that we were going to be left hungry at the conclusion of the evening (yes… I ate an apple when I got home).
The snapper would have been well served by a crispy skin, but given the fact that there were quite a few people dining with us that night I can understand why they chose not to promise this. The buttery sauce was heaven – who doesn’t love a nutty, buttery liquid to coat their food? And the whipped potatoes delivered on their promised name. Yum!
Our final two dishes were sweet endings. The first – poached apricots with coconut ice-cream, pistachios and Persian floss in a pretty little shortcrust tart casing. Sweet, sticky and a little crumbly. It looked a treat and was really quite enjoyable.
What was promised as handmade petit fours turned out to be only one truffle chocolate each which was bit surprising to constitute as a course in itself.
That being said, the one I ate with cherry and dark chocolate was delicious, and a great finishing note to put myself in an uber and head home with a heavy heart full of love for food (as always), my friends (gals in this case) and my boyfriend who was out dedicating his night to saving lives, helping the sick and caring for the community.
Another Valentine’s Day done and dusted – and I’m so happy I tried something different and got the chance to hang out with some of my favourite girls in the world.