The second most important thing the pandemic taught us is if food is prepared, managed and packaged well, take-out can be pretty damn awesome (the first is how to properly wear a mask, but I’m not going to get on that particular soapbox). When push came to shove, restaurants and cafes rolled up their sleeves and learned new and interesting ways to not only save their businesses, but offer a whole new experience for diners.
Though companies like Goldbelly and HelloFresh are shipping foodstuffs I never imagined would ship well to people all over the country, there’s a newcomer who’s doing things a little bit different.
Based in Napa, California, Moveable Feast officially launched this month offering a high end, and (often) Michelin star deliveries from some of the best restaurants in the country. This at-home, elevated dining experience was created by John Stubbs, owner of Jewel of the South in New Orleans; Jon Sybert, owner and chef of Tail Up Goat and Revelers Hour in Washington D.C.; and Ricardo Reyes, a former marketing and communications executive with Tesla and Google.
How is this concept executed? Every month, Moveable Feast collaborates with a different, award-winning restaurant to create a special menu exclusive to the program. Guests reserve a “feast” which is pre-cooked and refrigerated, and includes step-by-step instructions on re-heating and plating for your party.
For their soft opening in December, Moveable Feast had offered me a box from Jewel of the South, but I decided to wait for two reasons. First, I already had my hands full of ham. In fact, I am defrosting the second ham now (stay tuned for more ham blogs). Second, as much as I adore Jewel of the South, I can go whenever I want, assuming I can scrape up the ducats to do so. So, I opted to wait for the January box from Dirt Candy.
If you didn’t already know, Dirt Candy is an incredibly creative vegetarian restaurant in New York City, only one of two vegetarian restaurants in the area to receive a Michelin star. Chef and owner Amanda Cohen excels at offering fun and innovative dishes made almost entirely from vegetables. Heck! Chef Cohen was a pioneer for plant-based eating, blazing a trail for chefs everywhere to reconsider their attitude towards and preparation of vegetables.
Needless to say, I was so excited and when the Moveable Feast box arrived, I couldn’t wait to dig in. The PR folks sent me their smallest feast, a dinner party for four which would’ve cost me $385 shipping included. Along with all of the pre-packaged meals, I also received instructions (in both written and video form), and four menus, one for each of my guests. It was just John and I, so we feasted for two nights!
aged cheddar and parsley chex mix
seaweed caviar sandwiches
dirt candy chopped salad
warm pickled cabbage
cauliflower schnitzel served with creamy grits, burst cherry tomatoes, and harissa honey
gigante beans tossed in zhoug vinaigrette
amba and labneh butter
popcorn pudding with caramel popcorn and whipped cream
Before I get to the pros and cons of this fantabulous feast, I want to say that everything was really quite excellent, especially the breaded and fried cauliflower schnitzel with truly creamy, buttery grits, tangy cherry tomatoes and the heat/sweet flavor combo in the harissa honey. Two other smash hits with both John and I were the tangy, herbaceous beans in the zhoug vinaigrette and the crusty baguette with amba (an Indian-Israeli type of mango chutney) and labneh butter. Even after the baguette was gone, we busted out crackers (and our fingers) to get every last morsel.
There were good things and not so good things about enjoying this fine-dining feast at home. I’ll lay out my findings, then you can decide for yourself. First things first . . .
- For those who cannot afford to destination dine and travel across the country to New York or California, this is definitely the more affordable option. No question about it. When I think what it would cost to travel to New York, find lodging, and pay for a full meal at Dirt Candy, it makes my head spin!
- For those who love to cook (and even those who aren’t so great at it!), finishing and plating these dishes was not only fun, it was educational! The flavor combinations and ingredients used really got my creative juices flowing, and now I can’t wait to try making a veggie feast of my own.
- Most of the packaging was reusable! Aside from one or two items packed in plastic bags, everything came in U-Konserve stainless steel containers with silicone lids or glass jars with plastic screw top lids. You can either keep the containers (which I want to do), or return it all to Moveable Feast to re-use.
- Never in my life have I been able to create such an incredible dinner for four in 30 minutes. It’s just not possible without a full team OR Moveable Feast.
The Not So Good
- Though everything was easy to prepare, one of the best things about ordering take-out is NO DISHES! In this case, I had to not only wash the containers everything came in (it was A LOT!), but also all of my own pans I used to heat everything up. It’s not a huge bummer, but it certainly is a pain, especially when you don’t own a dishwasher.
And (as they say) that’s all, folks!
Though I don’t have the best serving plates, I thought everything still looked quite pretty and you know me, all that really matters is if it tastes good! I’ve attached a gallery of my photos below for your viewing pleasure.
If you have the wherewithal, and in the grand scheme of things this really isn’t that expensive, I would definitely give Moveable Feast a go. I would love to be your guest! I’ll even help wash up after . . .