L’Oca D’Oro. No, there wasn’t an all-purple dish (sorry, David Bull) and references to Pretty Woman were absent, but chef Fiore Tedesco and sommelier Adam Orman pumped up the music and plated seven courses each themed to a Prince song.On Sunday night a group of about twenty Prince lovers partied like it was 1999 at the fifth Dinners to Rock installment put on by supper club
“We want to maximize fun for people,” Tedesco said about the supper club series. The Italian-born chef has cooked with the best at places like Gramercy Tavern in New York, but his quirky sensibilities have found a home in Austin, in particular at Franklin Barbecue, where Aaron Franklin entrusts him with the serious responsibility of slicing meat. “I felt like, if there’s anything I can learn in Austin,” Tedesco said, “it’s barbecue.”
By night the Franklin interior had been turned into a candlelit communal dining experience with wine pairings to match the courses. Tedesco centered the meal on the over-the-top 1980s, connecting Prince in Minneapolis to the city’s rich Swedish history. So the menu included nods to Sweden with lingonberry jam and popped rye berries, among other decadences (for example, a giant prawn as a “little red corvette” atop sake ink sauce and lemon risotto).
Highlights included the “Around the World in a Day” with expertly prepared sea bass floating under a light purple potato foam with notes of vanilla, paired with deep purple potatoes and topped with a tender cooked carrot (“You’re required to eat the carrot top,” Orman told each table) and the “Controversy,” a meltingly delicious foie gras torchon sandwiched between two grilled buckwheat blinis over lingonberry jam, diced apples and mint and topped with black caviar.
Yet it was the second (yes, you read that right, second) dessert that took the cake. Called “Sign O’ the Times,” the menu read, “starfish and coffee…just following the lyrics on this one.” A star-shaped Swedish butter cookie topped with tiny pink roe centered the plate, surrounded by an excellent coffee semifreddo, whipped butterscotch “clouds” and maple budino. (We were less impressed with the store-bought purple sprinkles and silver balls on the dessert, and overall the platings could have been a bit more artful. However, the flavors were there.)
“Fiore doesn’t know it,” said Franklin. “But his sweet spot is totally dessert. Every dessert I’ve ever had from him has been amazing.”
Franklin has been to every dinner thus far, but he says his favorite was the Metallica dinner. “It’s because of all the smoky leather stuff,” he said. “It was a very earthy dinner and I’m an old-school Metallica fan. It’s kind of my thing.” That makes sense for the barbecue aficionado.
But what has been Tedesco and Orman’s favorite dish? “The dessert for the Fleetwood Mac dinner,” Tedesco said. “We were talking about the decade and the Clintons and cocaine,” said Orman, “which made Fiore say we had to do the whitest food possible.” The result was “Rumours,” with white chocolate, king oyster mushrooms, almond sponge and strawberries, each designed to look like a drug (think lines of cocaine).
This time the Prince-goers also had a rockin’ time. “The food is amazing,” said one guest. “But it’s the overall experience that makes it.” Another couple commented on how the experience felt European, which Orman noted is almost always a great compliment. “Unless they mean it was a very cold Austrian, heartless meal,” Tedesco joked.
Clearly the end of the night had turned silly, at least until Tedesco told me about his off-the-wall upcoming project, Dinner with Animals. Based on a dream he had that inspired him to shift from touring with his band to learning to cook like a pro, the dinner will be more of a “performative piece” with servers dressed in full animal costumes. Tedesco will recreate the meal he had in the dream, hopefully sometime next year.
The next Dinners to Rock supper promises to be just as interesting. The "SXSW Seven Course Sampler” takes place on March 17 and will feature dishes to honor big bands as well as up-and-comers. Look out for teaser tweets from L’Oca D’Oro about who will be on the menu. We also can’t wait for the Radiohead dinner (April 7) and several others.
But it turns out you do have to be rich to be their girl, as the dinners are pretty pricey: $90 for the meal and $135 with wine pairings.