Saturday, January 12, 2013

Big Bad Pop-Ups, Oxford, Mississippi

I experienced the most divine cauliflower of my life, on Thursday evening, at John Currence's Big Bad Pop-Ups concept. Brilliantly, this chef and entrepreneur invited four top chefs to Oxford including Elie Kirshtein, Kelly English, and the team of Andrew Ticer and Micheal Hudman, to host week-long pop up restaurants in his catering space, the Main Event.  Already equipped with a full kitchen, the site hosts a casual culinary theatre, Wednesday through Saturday, allowing locals to taste the food of a variety of chefs, all the while driving revenue and employing staff during a month-long kitchen renovation at his City Grocery restaurant.  

The pop-up concept grew out of a London trend almost ten years ago and has been used by restaurateurs to test concepts, sell investors, and provide a hip, new brand for younger audiences.
This week Elie Kirshtein crafted Israeli street food, featuring small plates such as a Turkish hummus served warm with paper-thin slices of toasted garlic, butter and paprika.  Unlike the typical grocery store cousin, this hummus was light, almost whipped, and creamy.  Our poor server nearly received a hand smack, when he very politely tried to take our plate away, prior to us cleaning the last dredges of garlicky goodness from the bowl with warm pita slices.

The cauliflower, whose tips seemed dredged in tahini, which when roasted created a crispy crust, was then tossed with shaved celery, parsley and toasted pine nuts.  Determined to recreate this bright and slightly citrus infused dish, I have thought of little else since Wednesday.