It was all moonshine wishes and carpaccio dreams for the guests of the third anniversary Guerrilla Cuisine dinner Sunday night. Under the direction of the infamous jimihatt, Chef Nathan Thurston of The Ocean Room presented a six-course pumpkin-themed smorgasbord appropriately titled Pumpkin Jam.
Guests gathered promptly at 4 p.m. on Kiawah's Mingo Point, which was the epitome of campground chic. A huge firepit burned as the sun set on the marsh, white Chinese lanterns hung above picnic tables, and a three-piece band played Django Reinhardt classics. Hungry attendees quickly gathered for fresh oysters served with saltines, pumpkin hot sauce, and pickled veggies. As if that wasn't enough to whet one's appetite, cider-braised boiled peanuts and pumpkin "crack" (something akin to Crunch & Munch sprinkled with sea salt) was dished out for further snacking.
Though everyone indulged with mighty abandon, the pace was slow, allowing all to take in the ambiance and not blow their appetite on the apps.
While this was Guerrilla's third anniversary party, a large portion of the guests City Paper talked to seemed to be newcomers; folks that had stumbled across the underground supper club through word of mouth. And, though the beverages were flowing, guests remained rather demur, focused on the food more than anything. No wonder, these were some hardcore foodies in attendance. This is a huge part of the fun of a Guerrilla Cuisine, getting to know your seatmates and their take on the every course.
The first item out was an heirloom pumpkin and blue crab bisque. While the presentation was stunning, Chef Thurston described it as a simple dish, a launching point for the next five courses. The pumpkin salad that followed was a huge hit. Chef Thurston displayed little orbs of pumpkin on a thin slice of Benton's Ham complemented with arugula and roquefort-wrapped chevre. The only way to describe the dish is to say it garnered a collective sigh from the diners. So. Damn. Good.
Next came pumpkin gnudi, which means nude gnocchi in Italian. It was paired with Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms, Benton's bacon, sage, and chestnuts. As our table nibbled the tender treat, conversation turned to politics and — thank god — Jimihatt chose that moment to hand out shots of moonshine and call for a 20-minute intermission. Nothing kills the taste of haute cuisine quite like partisan angst.
Post-intermission our seatmates reconvened without politics on the mind. Instead everyone turned their attention to the 130-degree prime beef tenderloin. Interestingly Thurston paired the beef with a pumpkin seed mole, which didn't exactly have our table singing its praises. Rather, "Why ruin a good piece of beef with that?" was overheard. However, the seared diver scallop that sat alongside was unanimously acknowledged to be extra tasty.
The meal was completed with not one, but two desserts. The pumpkin s'mores fit the four-star camping atmosphere perfectly, and a pumpkin sundae in a jar was much loved by the sweet-toothed folks.
Somehow Thurston and team managed to incorporate pumpkin into every single course, proving there's so much more to the orange gourd than just pie and jack-o-lanterns. So much more we can't get into here, we're all pumpkin'd out.
Heads up, the next Guerrilla Cuisine on Dec. 5 is sold out, but you can hit up Spam Jam on Dec. 12 and a Rock n'Roll BBQ event on Dec. 19.