Life Underground: Hidden Dinner at the Vagrancy Project
|Bavarios, Chevre, Orange, Cookie Dough|
But the plate that stuck in the mind the most, even after two compelling desserts -- a dense, wine-enriched version of red velvet cake smeared with mascarpone, and a Bavarian cream topped with tangles of blood orange confit and brown butter sauce -- was Thompson's ode to the humble "toad in a hole." It's apparently his girlfriend's favorite breakfast. Some girls get flowers, others get entire dishes.
J. Cabral Egg, Miso, Parmesan, Prosciutto
On the bottom was a layer of oversized of tricolore tapioca pearls, chewy and dense, fortified with a rich, hay-colored gravy made from egg yolks and miso, and flecked with sheets of prosciutto di Parma and shaved Parmesan. On top was a fluffy meringue, singed until it browned and crackled like the outer edges of a fried egg. Was that boba and eggs for breakfast? You could hear almost hear the joy erupting from the SGV.
J. Cabral Goat, Tofu, Kimchi, Scallion
In some ways, a dinner like Thompson's recalls of the early days of food trucks, the summer of Kogi love as it was, when a Twitter-equipped populace embraced with reckless abandon every truck that rolled onto the scene. In hindsight, we learned that not every mobile food vendor was deserving of such praise, though some assuredly were. We learned the distinguishing traits of the higher and lower forms of food truck.
J. Cabral Rouget, Hibiscus, Cucumber, Sword Lettuce
There's a divide among this popular surplus of illicit dinners that's becoming more apparent, too. The mediocre ones -- and there certainly is no shortage of those -- show that novelty of secrecy wears off in the face of lackluster cooking. It's only the best ones, run by ambitious chefs in unpretentious settings, that can elicit the thrill of watching talent in ascension; the culinary equivalent of catching a No Age show at The Smell circa 2007.
After just under a month cooking on his own, Miles Thompson has already made clear what side of that stage he intends to occupy.