NOW there's so much I CAN Tell You About the Underground Kitchen

Initially I had stuck to the hard-line Top Secret concept of Charleston's Underground Kitchen. Hey, you know...some people worked really hard to dream up these surprises and keep them a secret. Turns out, now that this month's installment has taken place, the all clear for spilling the beans has been sounded.

So, in compliance with the e-mail instructions I received on Thursday evening, Saturday evening I dressed, grabbed a bottle of wine from the stash, and headed out the door to Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. Upon arrival, I found a giant, long table adorned with fancy tablecloths, lined with taper candles, and lit from above by simple strings of small white lights (my favorites for any season). The table was centered right in the spacious row containing, among other things, brackets, plastic For Sale signs, and, if I remember correctly, roofing shingles.

Ummm...did I mention that the ReStore is currently non-air-conditioned (and that on my drive there the van's outside temperature reading was reflecting 94 degrees)? One would think that in my dark jeans and black t-shirt (my new favorite one that blessedly does not hug the midsection), I would have been a candidate for passing out. The building had some good airflow, though, thanks to a ginormous, strategically-placed fan, and was actually not that hot. One of the ReStore people in attendance did say that they're getting air conditioning right now.

So, as the other 29 guests strolled in, I was surprised to see that I didn't know as many as I thought I would. One of my best friends strolled in as the same-sex-hetero-date of another one of my friends that I gained when I started attending book club but, other than that, I had met just one or two of the guests around town. I pre-hydrated with my Vitamin Water and Stoli (yes, it's delicious) while waiting for our seating cards to be distributed so that we weren't placed too close to people we knew.

When I did locate my designated chair, I was seated between two men: an attorney from a local firm I had actually met a few days earlier at my kids' school's Local School Improvement Council meeting, and an attorney from the Dark Side (a defense attorney). I KID, I kid. Everyone deserves a defense I guess. Across from me was a beautiful young accountant who grew up with a friend of mine who now lives in Washington, D.C., a local art dealer with wonderful dark hair (that highlighted her sparkly eyes) and gorgeous artsy jewelry, and a friendly, funny business consultant that I know I've seen around town for years but just never met (whose grandmother had 20 children!!). Oh! I also met a young photographer ( of those people with a gift for looking 22 forever but who was actually almost 30). He was good-natured about my amateur photog groupie-ness and gave me a few tips about shooting digital. To me he looked a lot like Orlando Bloom but I'm not sure why.

So here's where I might get in trouble with Mr. DT. I can't remember what all the food was called. For one thing, I'm not sure it stayed on my plate long enough for me to absorb the name. Anyway, you can soon get the recipes here (if you see the picture of asparagus it's not been updated yet). I remember that the appetizers were curry chicken salad and a really refreshing spread on a pita slice (which looked like very smooth guacamole and tasted very minty). Dinner included a very light, white fish, something else spectacular that had orzo and corn in it, something deliciously like a salsa, and a little dab of soft cheese. Dessert was a chilled apple soup with walnuts and light spices. The wine was varied as it was brought along by each guest. I had a red table wine and then a Merlot, both of which were very good.

For four really fun hours I talked with the people surrounding me about light issues like children, education, social justice, politics, and religion. (Yes, we talked about politics and religion and there was no rumble. You just have to know when you're in the right company. And for clarification, I use the term "rumble" usually like in West Side Story or The Outsiders and not like thunder.) The more serious conversations involved topics like Scrabble (of course!) the online Webkinz universe, the delightfully-ridiculous Sean Connery character on SNL. And...yes, I know I talk about SC on CJ on SNL all the time but it cracks me up just thinking about it. (What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck and I can't remember how it ends, but your mother's a whore.)

And by the time I pushed my chair back and headed out the door, it was 11:00. Time had certainly flown by on the wave of good company and frequent laughter. (Did I just mix my metaphors? You bet. I also eat my dinner in secret places so...)

Pretty cool, you think? Yes. Pretty cool. I mean, each and every day we can pay a decent sum of money, sit down to a dinner with our friends, talk about the things we love to talk about, and eat food we know we love...and maybe get a little drunk. At least for now, we have the chance to occasionally dine in a really unique place, get to know other people who appreciate the coolness of dining in such a place, eat some absolutely delicious food, and get a little drunk.

And, finally, a word about the location sponsor. If you have never visited ReStore (this one or one in your town), do so right away. Even if you're not building or remodeling a home, there is a constantly-changing stock of unique treasures, practical materials and antiques that you will either use or just love. The money spent at ReStore helps realize Habitat for Humanity's mission of providing people with decent, affordable, healthy housing. And whether you're undertaking a major remodel of your home, or just changing out an older light fixture, ReStore will gladly add the materials you don't need anymore to their inventory.

(P.S. I had taken some pretty cool pictures of the table and settings but because I'm the Super Genius of the Universe, I failed to take them on a camera with any storage at that moment.)


Rebecca Burch said...

Oh, hey... thanks for the link! I dig you, too. :)

And thanks for the post about UK. Was thinking of going, sometime. Sounds cool.

TTHBTK said...

Awesome! Thanks! I really like your pictures and your writing.

The UK is very cool. I highly recommend the investment.