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Dining in the Dark

Typically on this blog you’d see an array of beautiful photos, a bit of food porn and a sprinkling of words. Sadly, there won’t be tantalizing food shots in this post… but there will be a photo or two.

As you’ve no doubt noticed on this blog, I love going out to eat. I love the sights, checking out the bar, peeking into the open kitchen, perusing the menu, and of course smelling and tasting the food. I love documenting it all as well, not to the point of my food getting cold of course, but it’s definitely part of my enjoyment when I go out to eat.

I was particularly intrigued when the invitation went out to try Dialog in the Dark’s new Dining in the Dark series. I jumped at the chance because of the chef, Ron Eyester of Rosebud Restaurant and although the exhibit has been in Atlanta for two years, I had yet to take part.

The evening started off with a glass of Georgia wine — Plenitude, a white blend, from Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega. I visited a few years back (photos below) and although GA wines can definitely be hit or miss, I particularly enjoy this one.

I’m a very visual person, and I must admit spending time going from room to room in a completely dark environment isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. It definitely challenged me and I’m more thankful than ever for my vision. All the guides for the exhibition and the dining experience are blind or visually impaired and were experts at guiding us through the various simulated environments in the exhibition (a park, a busy intersection, a boat etc.).

After a brief exposure to light, it was back into the exhibit for the dining segment of the evening. We were guided to a table of two and were assigned two waiters who would take care of us, and chef Ron Eyester was running the show. Ron’s a funny guy and was entertaining the whole night. The menu wasn’t handed out ahead of time and diners were asked to use their senses to guess what they were eating. I’ve got to say touching risotto in a pitch black environment was interesting to say the least.

Starters included Rosebud trail mix, fall pickles (bread ‘n butter radish, “apple pie” turnips and cinnamon green tomatoes) & “General Tso’s” broccoli. The first course was one of my favorites, a grilled cheese comprised of extra-buttery toast, Benton’s country ham (TN) , Sweet Grass Dairy Crossroads blue cheese (GA) and dates. The flavors were compelling and I ended up making a version for my friends Thanksgiving weekend in Charleston, with Point Reyes cheese. The sandwich was followed by seared scallops with citrus & carrot puree, the aforementioned risotto with peekytoe crab, golden raisins & leeks, and ended with a noodle bowl containing smoked beef, hamhock-shellfish broth & bean sprouts. Rice pudding provided a sweet finish to the evening.

Gerry Klaskala at the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes festival, 2009

Dining in the Dark is held every month through June 2011. Another favorite chef, Gerry Klaskala of Aria, is in charge of the menu this Thursday, December 9.  Information on the dinner series and the Dialog in the Dark exhibition are available online.