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Three Reasons to check out UnderWAREs

March 24th 02:03pm, 2011

032411_UnderwaresUnderground dinners have become trendy over the last few years. And sure, there is a place for a five-course meal prepared by a trained chef, but it will set you back between $50 and $125 – more if you choose a wine flight – plus don’t forget the tip for the servers. For budget-minded folks looking to share conversation and a delicious dinner with interesting people, there’s another operation in existence and it’s called underWAREs.

“A covert sharing operation among the St. Louis community to celebrate food and meet new people,” is how founders Will Fischer and Geraldine Co describe their “secret” society. Dinner parties are just one element of the underWAREs concept. The group also offers a barter circle, whereby food, drinks, classes, arts and crafts, even services, are traded. Lastly, underWAREs publishes an e-zine full of information about St. Louis’ food culture – think of it as an alternative way to become in-the-know about eateries you may have not tried yet.

I recently attended an underWAREs dinner party and will most decidedly be returning. Here’s why:

1. It’s an unpretentious affair. Dinner parties occur monthly and alternate location, taking place in the home of one of the attendees. The crowd is small, usually about 15 people. So, who are these daring diners? Fischer is a recent graduate of Washington University’s School of Engineering and currently works at the university’s office of sustainability. He and his circle of acquaintances enjoy food, embrace the “support local food” mantra, and engage in food and drink experiments such as making yogurt, preserves and hard cider. To shake up the guest list and live up to the credo that “strangers are especially welcome,” attendees are asked not to attend two dinners in a row. Jeans are the customary attire.

2. You’ll share a thoughtful meal. It won’t be a trained chef preparing your meal. Instead, it’s a home cook, perhaps with that cook’s significant other or BFF lending a hand. He or she will put thought and time into making a nice, well-rounded meal made with fresh (and mostly locally sourced) ingredients.

At the dinner that I attended, we noshed on hors d’oeuvres like beet and apple tartare, crostini of quince vinaigrette-marinated flank steak and twice-baked fingerling potatoes with Gouda and a balsamic reduction. The main meal consisted of paprika-spiced chicken tossed in a rice pilaf with roasted onions and peppers served alongside a spinach salad with an excellent blood orange vinaigrette. This, by the way, was a help-yourself affair. Hit the kitchen, fill up your plate, and if you want seconds, go for it. To finish, we enjoyed strawberry granita garnished with Fischer’s homemade port-preserved cherries, plus buñuelos sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, a drizzle of honey and a dab of strawberry jam.

3. It’s affordable. A $10 donation and a libation to share will hardly break the bank. Some diners brought a bottle of wine, others a six-pack of beer. Fischer even batched up a tiki drink and served it in wood-carved tiki mugs.

The next UnderWAREs dinner party will be held Sunday, April 10. To make your reservation or to find out more about this fun organization, visit its Web site.

By Ligaya Figueras

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4 Responses to “Three Reasons to check out UnderWAREs”

  1. stephen co Says:
    March 25th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    it is really unpretentious;
    everybody loves geraldine
    april 10th, 2011

  2. Lisa Says:
    March 25th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Enjoyed the story……love UnderWARES……

  3. Stephanie Says:
    March 28th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Thanks for the write-up! Just a quick note – Michelle Blodget (chef extraordinaire of the last underWAREs) IS a trained chef – she attended the Culinary Institute of America. The rotating chefs consist of both trained and un-trained (but highly talented) chefs.

  4. Katherine Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Geraldine and Joseph of UnderWAREs host the best underground dinners in St. Louis.

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