The Secret Cafe

I never win raffles. I’ll toss in a buck or two and hope for the best. Partly because I never really have more than a few dollars in cash on me at any given time, and partly because whenever I’ve entered raffles in the past, there’s always someone else that will end up beating me.
This has been going on since at least the third grade. When I was in Chinese school Danny Liu’s parents would buy armloads of $20 5 foot reams of raffle tickets, and Danny would be left swaddled in raffle tickets. Whenever numbers were called and no winner surfaced in 30 seconds, everyone sighed and sat back, waiting for Danny to check all of the tickets. This kind of slowed things down, but I’ll be damned if the Liu familiy didn’t win just about everything they entered.

But this time, I won a great raffle. It was for dinner! It was from The Furnace Collective. I entered on a First Friday and figured I might win since there weren’t many other people in yet (until one of my buddies up and bought five tickets). But I did win!! This is probably the best raffle I’ve ever one! It translated directly into FOOD! It was only $15 per person any way, but hooray, I won!

So on that auspicious night, I showed up with my Artsy Designer Friend. It was in a random house in Albany that was just freaking gorgeous on the inside and unassuming on the outside.

First up was a generous appetizer plate. Oh, and by the way, most of these pictures are yellowy, but whatever, they are pictures and not too blurry. You get the idea. It’s something to break up the monotony of my words.

I think everything that night was vegan. Artsy Designer Friend is a celiac, so he can’t eat wheat. He popped a mushroom after thinking they were safe, but evidently they used some kind of vegan thing with wheat in it. He is super chill and was like “Well, whatever. I tried some place new and knew it was a risk. I’m gonna enjoy the rest of my meal.” Now there’s a trooper. Oh, and the Furnace folks were super apologetic about the whole thing and couldn’t have been nicer. (But for what it’s worth, those mushrooms were totally worth it)

His super-triple-checked-free-of-gluten mushroom risotto. It was creamy and risotto-y. I took a nibble because it’swhatido. I’m still not a risotto fan, but still, it was nice.

I got beet ravioli! Red, beety skins! Stuffed with a celery/celeraic filling. Glazed with… SOMETHING!

But you know what was the best part? Those veggie sides!! The brussels sprouts were perfectly seared and charred on the cut sides, and still had plenty of crunch throughout.

And those kale greens and white beans? Scrumptious! However they cooked it, it was awesome. Tender soft beans, and lightly cooked kale that didn’t taste too bitterly of kale. Like Kale-Light.

Here’s an innard of a ravioli. Raviolo? White insides, red outsides.

Artsy Designer Friend knew the dessert chef, who whipped him up an off-menu gluten-free dessert. Some apple slices, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and pomegranate seeds. And lotsa cocoa powder. He was really happy.
I couldn’t say no to the pumpkin pie with WHITE CHOCOLATE. It was awesome, and a great way to end the meal.

It was such a great night, free to boot, and then the icing on the free-raffle-winning cake is that someone comes up to me and asks if I know someone. From Washingtonville! It turns out we went to middle school together. How crazy is that?!

2 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    Everything was vegan except the apple lemon cake and the caramel sauce. I made the white chocolate myself! I should have given some to your Artsy Friend because it was Gf as well.

    Glad you enjoyed!
    –Marwin

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