EatWith: A Delicious Southern Dinner with Strangers

eatwith

I’m relatively new in San Francisco. I moved to this exciting city almost a year ago in order to attend advertising school. However, along the way, I got immersed in school projects and forgot there were plenty things to discover. When the opportunity to attend an EatWith event presented itself, I knew this was my chance to rekindle my curiosity for San Francisco and possibly meet like-minded people.

EatWith is an online platform created in Tel Aviv that connects foodies and local chefs around the world with the purpose of bringing an authentic dining experience. Chefs go through a rigorous application in order to be able to host dinners. As for the attendees, any curious soul can join.

They don’t settle with knowing a culture on the surface, but they dig in and immerse themselves until they can understand the big picture.

The event for that day was called, “La Cocina Presents: Southern Supper.” It was held at the EatWith headquarters overlooking the AT&T Ballpark, in the SOMA district. Our chef for the evening was Stephanie Fields, a North Carolina native who moved to the city a couple of years ago. Fields is a member of La Cocina, an incubator program focused primarily on low-income women who are food entrepreneurs. As Fields said, “You go with a vision and they’ll make it real.” Thanks to La Cocina, she was able to launch her beloved southern food pop-up kitchen, Sugarfoot Grits.

Chef Stephanie Fields eat with
Chef Stephanie Fields

“Southern Supper” was on a Tuesday night, coincidently on game day. During my commute I was surrounded by Giants fans, but once I stepped into the building, I was greeted with other kind of fans: the foodies. I was excited and nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I walked into the space, a tall, blue-eyed man greeted me and offered me a glass of white wine. It turned out I was having a conversation with the CEO of the company.

He then introduced me to other team members and as I started talking, I realized I had much more in common with them than I would’ve expected. All of these people live for good food and travel. They don’t settle with knowing a culture on the surface, but they dig in and immerse themselves until they can understand the big picture. They’re advocates for authentic, meaningful experiences.

EatWith: A Delicious Southern Dinner with Strangers

AT&T Park on the background eatwith
AT&T Park on the background

After a couple of minutes of chitchatting, our chef greeted us with the cheerful southern expression hey ya’ll, and that was our queue to sit down and enjoy our meal. Fields talked about her trajectory while we listened to bluegrass music on the background.

Among the people I shared a meal with were a fishmonger, a nurse, a marketing director and a creative director. I was somewhat self-conscious since I was surrounded by all of these interesting people. But after a couple of minutes, I felt at ease. In their eyes, I was also an interesting person. They were curious about my background and my career choices. We may have come from different backgrounds, but our love for travel and food connected us in the most effortless way possible.

As for the diner itself, our chef surprised us every step of the way. First we had what Fields calls an “after church snack,” a typical appetizer based on pimento cheese, house-made pickle plate and crackers. A dish well paired with a not-too-sweet tea, both refreshing and delicious. After our appetizer plate, Fields described the main course: Brunswick stew with a side of braised greens.

But before starting our meal, we all took the cliché, well-composed aerial shot of our dish. Once we uploaded the picture to Instagram, it was go time. The dish was everything you would expect from southern food: rich, flavorful and comforting. After the main course, the chef’s staff brought us a shooter glass filled with greens broth, or what they call a pot liquor. Fields encouraged us to take cornbread crumbles into the shooter, and so we did. Leftovers well enjoyed.

Pimento cheese, house made pickle plate and crackers eatwith
Pimento cheese, house made pickle plate and crackers
Brunswick stew, braised greens and cornbread with butter.
Brunswick stew, braised greens and cornbread with butter.

Our dessert was bourbon buttermilk grits pie, Fields’ original recipe. She explained how this dish represents the warmth and comforting experience of growing up in the south and learning to cook from her grandmother and uncle. The grits pie was paired with Kentucky Bourbon. It was strong, smoky, and warm, perfect for a summer afternoon in San Francisco. With her southern charm, she thanked us for joining her.

We may have come from different backgrounds, but our love for travel and food connected us in the most effortless way possible.

Bourbon buttermilk grits pie with Kentucky bourbon
Bourbon buttermilk grits pie with Kentucky bourbon

Being able to experience a private southern supper in beautiful San Francisco is definitely one for the books. I had the opportunity to connect with fellow travelers from all around the world, I enjoyed a 3-course meal and I met the chef herself and EatWith’s CEO.

This experience was everything I needed at the moment: an escapade from my daily routine in order to feel like a traveler in my new home. I am sure this will not be my last EatWith event. If I ever find myself alone and hungry, I know I’ll have a friend in them.

 

EatWith: A Delicious Southern Dinner with Strangers

 

About Alejandra Cid

Alejandra CidAlejandra Cid is Texas born, Mexican raised and a city wanderer. Nothing makes her happier than being in foreign lands and sharing her experiences. She’s currently living in San Francisco where she’s working towards her copywriting diploma. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter and on her Tumblr, On Surviving My Twenties for the everyday mid-20’s struggles.

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