A splendid start

Sep 26, 2009

Like all good dinner parties, the inaugural Long Table dinner last Sunday at 3CUPS kept those of us around the table engaged in conversation and sated on good food and wine — witness the dearth of photographic evidence of the good times we all had. Lenore Ramm had the best camera, and so her blog post and food pics are the best record of the night; Bora blogged, but like me (a few photos posted to my Flickr page) he had a camera with dying batteries and wine-unsteady hand.

Suffice it to say, the night was a splendid success: 3CUPS was a perfect setting, the Moroccan meal by Sandwhich delicious (full menu below), and the 37 diners a perfect mix of old friends and new acquaintances. I suggested that there was a “thread weaving through the room, beyond these walls to worlds outside, and back again.

“You’ll notice we’re not wearing nametags. Many of us know each other, and we share connections. Others we’re meeting for the very first time, and we will discover the six degrees of separation that bind us to someone, something, somewhere, sometime.”

At the end of the meal, one of the diners leaned over to tell me she’d been one of the original participants in the famous Stanley Milgram study at Harvard.

“I am honored to know you,” I told everyone at the start of or meal. “Please meet, share your stories, enjoy the meal, revel in the community. If at any point tonight you feel inspired to share a memory, propose a toast, compliment or thank someone publicly, please do so.”

With that, we ate.

And then, with perfect timing, Claire Cusick stood up, recounted an experience about food and travel, and then asked others to share their own stories. And others did, cascading their anecdotes about eating kudu in Zimbabwe, running through the streets of Chicago in a blizzard after a night of molecular gastronomy, cooking for Julia Child, ordering the “disgusting menu” instead of the Spanish “menu degustacion” and more.

I sat back, pleased that the Long Table experiment was working just as I imagined it.

At dinner’s end, Christoph Guttentag rose to toast the Long Table initiative, and then asked, “Will there be another?” Yes, and soon.

After the dinner, Paul Jones perfectly captured the spirit of the night: “The Long Table is sorta the unconference version of a great dinner party.”

A hearty thanks to all those who attended this dinner — your active participation in the evening made it a success.

Thanks also to Badi Bradley for opening 3CUPS to us.

And thanks to Hicham Elbetri, Naima Ejjouf and Soumaya Elbetri for preparing the delicious food, and to Janet Elbetri for facilitating the catering.

The menu
It was delicious.

Trio of Moroccan Salads

  • Zaalouka (eggplant “caviar”) with tomatoes and peppers
  • Moroccan Carrot Salad with lemon, garlic, cilantro and a dash of cayenne
  • Beet Salad with onions, parsley, cilantro and light vinaigrette


  • Marka of stewed chicken with onions, raisins and saffron
  • Braised Vegetable Stew – potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, tomato & herbs


  • Moroccan “Baghrir” Pancakes served with butter and honey
  • Cardamom sugar cookies with lemon-cardamom glaze
  • Mint tea

Anton Zuiker

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