In our grand finale for the 2017 Friends of the Café Dinner Series, Asha Gomez and her team hosted a lively and lovely evening, sourcing from our local farmers in combination with her own collection of spices.
In My Two Souths, Asha states, “I call my style of cuisine ‘two Souths cooking.’ Its flavors and dishes are characterized and rooted in my deep affection for the resourcefulness and soulfulness of cooking in both my mother country India, in the far southern state of Kerala, and my chosen home in American’s southern, culinary-savvy city of Atlanta, Georgia.” The dinner was the perfect culmination.
Cocktail hour kicked off the evening with the “Muscadine Vine” created by our Events Coordinator, Anne Ryan, and made with muscadine syrup, prosecco, lime, and mint. Wines selected by Anne Ryan and Melissa Bain were accompanied by Blackberry Farm’s newest addition, canned craft beers.
The passed hors d’oeuvres included Black Pepper and Black Salt spiced roasted cashews, Fry Bread with mint chutney and quick pickled carrots, and curry chicken samosa pockets. The mint that was used in meals throughout the dinner was picked fresh from Natalie’s garden.
The first seated course was a brightly colored Sunday vegetable stew with a creamy, coconut base and chunky vegetables.
The second course of Asha’s dinner was Kerala fish curry, served on a bed of kichadi grits and tempered mustard oil. Kidachi is a rice, lentil, and butter comfort food seasoned with ginger and leek and found throughout India. Asha’s version substitutes stone-ground grits from Anson Mills. A fillet of catfish from Simmons Farm Raised Catfish in Mississippi was served atop the bed of grits.
The third course was Asha’s take on Beef Biryani. Asha described this rice dish as a “celebration dish” comparing its creation to American pit masters.
The fourth and final course—Asha’s Three Spice Carrot Cake, one of her most widely loved desserts and a tribute to her mother, was the perfect end to the evening.
A big thank you to Asha and her team (including her son, Ethan), The Factory Café team, the Southern Foodways Alliance, and to all the local farms and purveyors who helped to make this dinner so special. Be on the lookout for more events coming in 2018.
P.S.: Find some of these dishes and much more in Asha’s cookbook, My Two Souths.