kitchen table dinner party series
Dining Reviews

New Kitchen Table Dinner Party Series and Tea of the Week

New enterprise ‘Sala Soirée’ kicks off series of dinner parties in local homes, plus a tea of the week

Left to right: Kurt Stockdale, Kristen Jacobsen, Tracy Shaw and Dana Scruggs at Shaw and Scruggs’ home. Shaw is launching a week of kitchen-table salons on Feb. 8. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

Got the winter blahs? Looking for something just a little bit different in the way of food, wine and conversation? The brainchild of culinary entrepreneuse Tracy Shaw, the Kitchen Table Restaurant Week dining salon series just might be what you need.

Starting Feb. 8, the week of distinctive dining entertainments leads into an intriguing group of private home settings. Not a predictable soirée in the bunch. And the week of unexpected foods and venues is a launch for Shaw’s new website, designed to bring diners and intimate venues together.

It started when Shaw (assistant manager at Kelly’s French Bakery) and her sweetie were visiting Paris in the fall of 2015. Bored and restless, Shaw cruised the web and came across an American ex-pat Jim Haynes, who hosted Sunday Night Dinner Salons in his home in Paris, and has for many years. Shaw and sweetie reserved spaces and found themselves in a terrifically entertaining and stimulating multi-national dinner party.

“We should have parties like this at our new house,” said the savvy sweetie, and voilà! a plan took shape.

“It dawned on me that I could create a network of these types of parties, to create communities in the face of the demise of our traditional meeting spaces,” Shaw explains. “I immediately started planning my company, Sala Soirée.”

Showcasing local people, local kitchens, and local talent, the Kitchen Table series combines vineyards and featured guests, “as well as incredible hosts for dinner parties in their homes,” says Shaw.

Here’s a taste of what your reservation will deliver: on Sunday, Feb. 12, Randall Grahm hosts a wine pairing dinner at the La Selva Beach home of Laura Walther. The foods and wines will be hand-selected by the Bonny Doon Vineyard founder himself. On Saturday, Feb. 11 sign up for an Oysters & Jazz Soirée on Pleasure Point. This evening features Nicole Facciuto, who did the interior for Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network channel. Facciuto is now owner of Corky’s Nuts, sourced from her parent’s organic walnut farm recently featured in Sunset magazine. Series creator Shaw will co-host this event with the aforementioned sweetie on jazz piano.

The innovative house party/salon dining series kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the home of local architect William Rennie Boyd, with featured guest Robert “Wingnut” Weaver and a four-course Thai dinner that begins with lemongrass and Thai basil mojitos paired with spiced chicken satays. Then a 2014 Storrs Gewurztraminer joins a Bangkok posh salad, followed by Silver Mountain zin with an entree of drunken noodles with prawns and rainbow chard. Dessert of forbidden black rice sundae finishes, along with hot Thai-style tea. (Wingnut is star of the surf classic Endless Summer II, by the way.) Find out about more salons and purchase tickets at Open to the public, $55 per person. I look forward to seeing you at one of these tasty events!

Tea of the Week

The very intense Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, made by Harney & Sons, and available at Cafe Iveta. Deeply satisfying in the way that only long-steeped, cinnamon-intensive tea can be, this potent libation could easily, well almost easily, serve as a Jameson substitute on a wintry evening. Think of it as the sriracha of teas. Test drive it at Iveta. We do on a weekly basis, accompanied by the house gluten-free scones.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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