A night spent with Moon Tide Sundries
By: Jennifer Zeleski
Try thinking of another name for a dinner party, and you might come up with the phrase “supper club.” Moon Tide Sundries has claimed the term for their “social dining experience,” another up-and-coming multi-course dinner, hosted in a Greensboro home for friends and strangers alike.
It’s led by Will and Alex Sanders, both new to the food scene and looking to make their splash in the growing pool of local dinner-party curators.
On Feb. 23, the menus were laid at each place setting, nine in total, with a long list of local ingredients and hand-crafted dishes, ready to be admired by guests. The candles were lit, the fresh flowers were arranged, and the custom Spotify playlist filled the room with an extra layer of ambiance to distract from the silent anticipation. There would be seven courses for Will to prepare in their small kitchen.
It’s just big enough to fit the couple back-to-back without jabbing elbows, but not if someone opens the oven.
With my newfound obsession of dinner party camaraderie and unique dishes, I knew I had to check them out, and I was lucky enough to catch them before their trip North. They would be hosting dinner party number seven in Boston while visiting friends, and this was my chance to give them the spotlight they deserved back here in the Triad.
Alex broke the ice with a house-made green-tea based drink, infused with mint, lemon, cucumber and topped off with a bit of seltzer water, as we each settled into our seats. It was light, refreshing, and was a clear indicator of the details Alex and Will are putting into each and every aspect of their supper club Sunday nights.
But it wasn’t long before the kitchen was heating up and the plates were making their rounds.
The first course was a deviled duck egg, marinated in a soy-sauce based mixture, cut in half, and featured a more traditional deviled egg filling (mayonnaise, dijon mustard, the like). The filling was then topped with a spicy roasted red pepper sauce, described as similar to harissa (a red pepper spread), with much less oil. Each one was garnished with a crisp sweet potato chip and freshly-chopped chives. The egg was tender and sweet, the red pepper sauce had a lingering spice, and the creamy filling tied it all together. The sweet potato chip gave just enough of a crunch that the bite wasn’t too soft or squishy. Yes, I just used the word squishy, and surely you’ve experienced that texture before. Needless to say, the first course was just enough to start us off. More, please? Not a chance.
The second course was a twice-baked sweet potato, made with fermented garlic honey and plated over a spread of olive-oil aioli. Will explained the chemistry behind his fermented garlic honey, which starts with both raw honey (the thicker, creamy, less-golden honey) and raw garlic, with a little lemon and fish sauce. All mingled together over time, marrying their flavors, and were eventually mixed into the mashed sweet potato, before filling it back into the crisp skins. These were not Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. Buttery, spicy, warm and savory, of course, but the olive oil aioli gave just a bit of tartness to each bite, and keeping them in the skin allowed for that same great balance of texture throughout.
The third course was a beef salad made with skirt steak, kale, cucumber kimchi and a light vinaigrette. The steak was rubbed with salt and ground coffee to soak in a richer flavor, cooked medium rare and sliced over the fresh, bitter kale and bright cucumber kimchi. The kimchi was the real star here: spicy, perfectly crisp, and a great addition to a salad that could have been just a bit too hearty without it.
The fourth course was a call to Will’s origins in food experimentation: a pork taco with a house-made tortilla, spicy Sriracha sauce, ricotta salata, jicama, plantain chips and fresh cilantro. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down a bit. Starting with the house-made tortilla, it had the key chewy texture (not too hard, not too fragile) and didn’t lose its ability to hold throughout bites. The shredded pork shank was savory and tender, and I ultimately decided it should be on every taco I order in the future. It paired well with the ricotta salata, which is salted ricotta that isn’t quite as tart as your traditional ricotta but still has the same soft texture. In each bite, there was a slightly fruity flavor that I just couldn’t put my finger on. It was the jicama, a white “Mexican radish,” that was not bitter or strong like other radishes, but a great component to lighten the flavors a bit. The fresh squeeze of lime and cilantro were the crucial details, and the plantain chips were unbelievably thin and crisp.
Disclaimer: the fifth course was my favorite savory dish of the night. I am not responsible for any future cravings you may have after reading further. Malfatti pasta, a gnocchi-like dish that roughly translates to “misshapen” pasta in Italian, is made with less flour than regular pasta to get an even richer flavor overall, and Will nailed it. But it didn’t stop there. The ricotta-parmigiana-parsley malfatti was placed on top of a portion of chorizo and black beans.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what the hell is going on here. Will described the malfatti as having a Cheez-It crust (which heavily piqued my interest), whereas the black beans and chorizo were more like a thick stew without a broth. None of the descriptions mattered once I took the first bite. Soft, Cheez-It-y, a little salty and absolutely delicious. Who would have thought that an Italian pasta over Venezuelan-style chorizo and beans would be a match made in heaven? It was the perfect representation of a blending of cultures. They can bring out the best in each other, regardless of preconceived notions.
The sixth course was the only one that didn’t sing for me. Duck soup with house-made egg fettuccine, sliced duck, lemon foam, black garlic oil and chopped green onion. The broth was well-balanced but very meat-focused, and having not really liked duck prior (regardless of the dish or preparation), it didn’t convert me to being a fan. The egg noodles were filling, and the broth was thin enough to not overly-stuff you if you finished the bowl. I liked the lemon foam to add a little brightness, but it just wasn’t my forte.
The final course (and my favorite), had me wondering if I could manage to find and steal whatever was left after getting the first bite. Dessert. Often what I am most critical of —and make the most of in my own kitchen— this might have been one of the best I’ve ever had. A coconut pie with graham cracker crust, salted caramel, coconut custard and turmeric whipped cream. From the bottom up, this pie was incredible. The graham cracker crust was salty and just like a Samoa cookie without the chocolate (even better, in my opinion). The custard was creamy, especially having been made with coconut milk, and the turmeric whipped cream didn’t have a spice or noticeable flavor by itself, but when paired with the rest, was an earthy component that tied the entire flavor palate with a perfectly tied bow. I’ve been dreaming about having another slice ever since.
Maybe you’re not yet convinced of a “supper club” atmosphere. If the food hasn’t gotten you on board, you should consider just how profound it is to gather around a table with people you may not have ever encountered and level the playing field by enjoying a meal that has been specifically tailored to give you a bonding experience. Memories and full stomachs that you can leave with, knowing that people respect you, love you and care about you, even if you never see them again. I left Moon Tide Sundries with an even higher respect for people willing to hold conversations about tough topics, look past the heaviness within our world, and eat food that means something more than just the use of a knife and fork.
That’s (almost) exactly what Moon Tide Sundries means to Will and Alex. The “moon” refers to the phases of life, the “tide” references the coming and going of all things, and “sundries” aligns with their method of no specific style, theme or culture.
Moon Tide Sundries brings people together, one dish at a time.
Jennifer Zeleski is a senior Communication major at High Point University, who is always eager to cook, eat and listen. Her many food adventures can be followed on Instagram @jayz_eats.
Find Moon Tide Sundries on Instagram @moontidesundries and direct message them for more information on how to attend their next supper club.