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Starring Joaquin’s Hamburger Mia’s Sangria

When I was invited to my first supper club experience, visions of Frank Sinatra–and for some reason–1950’s Zsa Zsa Gabor at a swanky hipster social club in Vegas, came to mind.  As it turns out, Supper Club is an incredibly unpretentious opportunity to break bread with new friends in the comfort of someone’s home.

Adam and I were asked to join the Supper Club by Stephanie Moore, a modern sophisticate from Pittsburgh (see her blog: Sprout) who shares my insatiable passion for food and wine.

Here is how Supper Club works:

  • Gather a group of friends, preferably who don’t already know each other (12-20 guests)
  • Create a monthly Supper Club Calendar
  • Pick a Host, a date and a theme for each month
  • Invite guests to bring the “supporting cast”- side dishes, deserts and appetizers + drinks, to go along with the theme. (Pingg.com is a great way to invite friends.  It’s a free online program that helps you keep track of RSVP’s and let’s you share your event through your favorite social media outlets.)
  • Include fun games and a laid back atmosphere. (We personally love to play the game Catch Phrase)
  • Eat, drink and be merry!
  • Set rules around attendance.  Supper Club is a community and should be a commitment.

I can only speak for our Supper Club, which is comprised of 12-20 people.  In the beginning only a few of these people know each other, typically friends of the hosts, and eventually everyone else gets to know each other, sharing the common bond of food and drink.  Each month a new supper club is hosted.  The Hosts come up with the theme for the night and they create the main course. The invited guests stick to the theme and provide the ‘supporting cast’ and drinks.  Guests show up at the host  home and the party begins. The First hour is typically spent mingling, cooking, and snacking on appetizers, wine, beer, and other libations.

Because of Supper Club, I’ve been invited to sample hundred year-old family recipes that I’d otherwise never have access to.  I’ve also been given the opportunity to celebrate holidays that I culturally have no rights to.  The true gift of Supper Club is that my husband and I have been exposed to these wonderful traditions and foods through the new friendships we’ve made during these monthly gatherings.

Our first Supper Club theme was Dia de los Muertos, hosted by Mia and Joaquin Lastra.  Joaquin is from Mexico, and this Holiday–also known as day of the dead–is celebrated throughout Latin America in honor of deceased family and friends.  Wikipedia definition: The celebration occurs on November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts).

Other supper club themes have included themes such as comfort food, a holiday cookie exchange, Italian cuisine and “Foods we love” a Valentine’s Day celebration wherin I was introduced to a protein dubbed ‘Bacon Porn.” This month’s Supper Club landed on Labor Day weekend, so of course, we celebrated with a summer cookout.

There is always one dish that stands above the rest at Supper club; on this day– once again–that dish was provided by our Latin Friend, Joaquin, who made the most incredible hamburgers that I’ve EVER had in my life.  They were even better than the burgers at Terry’s Turf Club, which is a huge compliment.  The joke is that we are going to put Joaquin’s burgers in a competition with celebrity chef, Bobby Flay on the Food Network show, Throwdown! with Bobby Flay and Joaquin would kick Flay’s ass…however, in the end, Flay would be the true winner because he would walk away with Joaquin’s secret family recipe.

Under different circumstances, this post would be dedicated to the world’s greatest Chef and his incredibly juicy, fill-your-mouth-with-flavors-you-didn’t-even-know-existed hamburger recipe, BUT, in true chef style, Joaquin’s lips are sealed and the recipe remains sacred to the Lastra family.  (The only ingredient we were able to guess was chorizo, a type of pork sausage, which made for an extremely flavorful burger. Joaquin also splurged that all of the ingredients could be found at any grocery store.)

So, instead… drum roll please… I dedicate this post to his beautiful wife, Mia, and her Super Sneaky Sangria. Super sneaky because it is so deceivingly delicious that you wouldn’t guess there was a drop of alcohol in it.  I know this to be true because soon after the party began, there was a moment when the sangria drinkers looked at each other with that “uh oh, we’d better slow down before we get wasted” look. You know the one–a bloodshot sparkle in the eye and slight slant of the lid.

Sangria is a Spanish drink blended with wine, sugars, juices and fruit.  I’ve had several versions of Sangria; the worst version I ever drank, believe it or not, was in Madrid, Spain. The best version was during May Supper Club.  Mia mixed wine, fresh lemon, mango and papaya slices.

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy! And go get your Supper Club on.

Mia’s Super Sneaky Sangria

Equipment

Large glass bowl or pitcher

Here are the basics. It’s not an exact science, so adjust to meet your
taste preference.

Start with the fruit of your choice (apples, cantaloupe, peaches,
nectarines, mangoes, etc.) Freshness is key, which is why after checking
the options at Kroger I chose mango and cantaloupe (2 smaller mangoes
and a quarter of a cantaloupe). Cut the fruit into manageable bites (you
don’t want it so small that the alcohol has a macerating effect, nor too
big that guests need a fork with their cup!)

Then place the fruit in a large pitcher or other container, and cover
with:

1) Brandy (Enough that all pieces are soaking, but not submerged. Think
a cereal-to-milk ratio)
2) Honey (about a quarter cup)
3) Granulated Sugar (a heavy dusting)

Stir and let sit for 15-30 minutes (stirring occasionally). Add a bottle
of red wine (we used a pinot noir, but another sweet or light red wine
would do the trick), the juice of 1 lime and the 1.5 cups of orange
juice. Adjust other flavors as needed. Serve over ice and enjoy (with
caution)! -Mia

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