While visiting our son in Queenstown NZ we passed a place that couldn't have looked less like a restaurant if it had tried...the facade was all black including the door..no number no name...only those in the know knew
Guess it's rather like life isn't it...those in the know know
However the flatearth folk knew the earth was flat didn't they...so maybe...oops Jude will get me for non-topicing...or should that be double c?
Zingara Cucina - Italian for Gypsy Kitchen...what a wondrous name for such a restaurant..
now let me think..I'd call mine: HTE (here there everywhere)
and what would you name your secret restaurant that travels? _________________ "I've never accepted the external appearance of things as the whole truth. The world is much more elaborate than the nerves of our eye can tell us." - James Gleeson
I think I'd be tempted to 'borrow' the name of a shop I once saw in London, which was called The House of Mistry... even tho' I'm not a Mistry. Or We cook, You bite. _________________ Confusion comes fitted as standard.
Joined: 06 Jul 2007 Posts: 15 Location: Puerto Angel
Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:58 pm Post subject:
Being the current fad and all to become an underground restaurant seems to be a complete snub at the vast majority of visible establishments who pay taxes, employ legal staffing and in general comply to the standards set by the governing bodies who ensure that safe environmental health standards are met. I was at times during my short life, an anarchist to some degree, upping the establishment was the norm in my youth, however the simple idea of not knowing who has placed their grubby hands on my meal makes me shudder at the thought. When well-trained chefs, staff and proprietors have laboured to magnificently present the grandeur of a meal in a legitimate setting, then this becomes their pinnacle for the fruit of their labours. This may never come to fruition but when the first outbreak of E coli, Bacillus cereus, Shigella or Salmonellosis is detected all too late, dine well you underground diners. _________________ better bread for all...
There's something terribly appealing about a soiree that goes so well it just HAS to be recreated week after week. This reminds me of generations gone by whose children still recount the stories of weekly gatherings where the whole family and a neighborhood of friends would all flock together at one house or another to cook, drink and yammer the night away. Our homes are much quieter nowadays.
I'd call mine "The Rum Runner" in honor of my great uncle who did his duty to keep many a speakeasy in the sauce during prohibition. Infamous times!
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 Posts: 307 Location: Far, far away
Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:13 pm Post subject:
Alice Waters. Fergus Henderson. There are other respected culinary professionals who never trained formally in cooking schools or kitchens of established restaurants.
When I accept an invitation to dinner, I don't worry about whose hands touch my food; my guests don't look twice at their cutlery even though I don't own a dishwasher.
In the U.S., dining clubs are springing up in private homes where small groups of strangers sign up online to become members and pay in advance. Only then is the address divulged. These places take risks. I know about two, both run by extraordinarily talented couples who are making a transition from one less satisfying profession to another that gives them greater pleasure. So far as I know, they've had no problems and a whole lot of fun. I do not know how they manage legalities, including taxes.
As for the hip, gypsy place booked well in advance, yes, it sounds as trendy as dining in complete darkness, beds set up in restaurants, or spaces constructed out of ice. Model borrowed from night clubs and art galleries. Maybe even revolutionary theaters in S. Africa during apartheid. You'd think that somewhere before the 4000th reservation is honored, grim officials would shut it down or the novelty wan.
This chef has 4000 reservations, enough to fill a year--that's the equivalent of at least 10 fancy dinners each night--every single night of the year! He's been at it for 3 years.
There is no unreported income involved here?
Sorry, but I like public records-- taxes should be paid equally and fairly by everyone.
The rest of the enterprise seems altogether wonderful, but the cheating of your fellow citizen? Ruins my appetite!
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 Posts: 899 Location: Gold Coast Australia
Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:41 pm Post subject:
I see it as dining in someone's home. Apparently there is no set price at Zingara, you pay what you think the meal is worth. I've been in touch with them and can get a seat in November if I know someone who has already been and will refer me. They have a website so I would imagine being so public they would pay taxes. _________________ Barbara
I have had the opportunity to dine at zingara, and it really does lives up to all the hype.. They've really created something special... Unfortunately I'm afraid could easily be lost, if the media has its way with them.
Here's to hoping they don't screw up a good thing, by walking toward the (lime)light.. _________________ I may not live like a king, but I eat like one!
I am, I admit with a little embarrassment, quite particular when it comes to hygience - my dining companions always laugh when I carefully inspect my glass and wipe my cutlery with a napkin in restaurants. I can understand Queekie's concern that underground restaurants are not subject to health and saftey legislation, nor do they have public liability insurance....
...However, I reckon that food that has been lovingly prepared by ordinary, yet talented people who simply adore food to the point that they would go to the trouble of setting up an underground restaurant, would be a damn sight more hygenic than food prepared in cesspool restaurants such as Pizza Hut! I fear that Health & Safety shut down only a tiny proportion of the dangerous dining establishments!
I heard "chef", the person who started Zingara Cucina, interviewed on the radio yesterday (ABC Melbourne 774). He said that he and his partners have full time jobs and have only been having the dinners on a monthly basis, which they are upping to fortnightly because of demand. He said that they do not make a profit from the dinners although people often help to pay for ingredients, that they usually have a small group 12-15 people and that they do it because of their passion for Italian casalinga cooking, which is hard to find at the usual Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Guests are only invited if they are referred by someone else who has attended a dinner.
They didn't talk about the food, which is what I was hoping they would discuss. Anyway he was calling from Umbria where he was vacationing and sourcing truffles for future dinner parties. I don't know anyone who has been, so no referral for me.
Looks like my suspicions were correct.. wonder how long this will last now?
All good things come to an end I guess... This is what you get when you email them for a booking..
This is an Automated Email - However, please do take the time to read through it, as it may answer some of your questions.
Why am I receiving an automated email?
We can only be honest with you, and state; that unfortunately due to the massive demand for a seat at Zingara Cucina; it is simply not possible to respond to every email in a reasonable amount of time. Hence, we aim to try and answer some of your queries through the following list of FAQ's, to expediate the process.
What is Zingara Cucina?
Very good question. We're a roaming supper club, a dinner party with strangers as guests, a restaurant with out a location, a gypsy kitchen; call us what you will - we seem to have been branded many names.
To us, we are just a group of friends (and friends of friends); whom get together regularly to enjoy good food, good wine & good times.
Where do you operate from?
Our imagination (pretty much!), and an Apple Macbook Pro. Zingara Cucina, does not have a mailing address, a telephone number or a permanent location. We roam. From laneways, apartments, parks, galleries & rooftops. We dine, wherever we logistically can; enjoying the food that our ancestors have passed down, from generation; to generation.
What is so special about Zingara Cucina?
We can't really answer that question..? To us, it is lovely to break bread with people of similar ilk. Those who appreciate all of the aforementioned. The taste of a perfect basil infused suggo, or the pungent aroma of a alba white truffle. Regardless, for us; it is first about food & conviviality. We try to recreate that great feeling, after a good meal; and a great conversation.
How do I obtain a booking?
Well, firstly; we are not really a restaurant. So although we call it a booking; it is more of a referral. You must be referred by a friend, who will vouch for you. We do this, to maintain a network of people with likeminded interests.
The referral system, can not be deviated; regardless of your self-imposed celebrity status. Unfortunately, this isn't about fame for anyone, but for the farmers, the growers & the producers - who provide us with the beautiful products that we serve at our dinner table. They deserve the kudos, not us.
What if I can't find a referral?
Unfortunately, we can't assist. It saddens us a tad, that the concept has grown so much; that we cant enjoy the company of all whom would like to attend. But again, regardless of what the media may publish - we are a small, intimate event - more of a dinner party, than a restaurant; hence, it is imperative that we maintain our standards. We do apologise in advance.
How much does it cost to dine at Zingara Cucina?
We don't charge. However, if you feel that you would like to contribute to the cost of the 'ingredients' only, then feel free to do so on the night. You will not receive a bill & there is no mention of money. Our waiters do not expect, nor accept tips. If you don't want to chip in; then we sincerely do not mind. You are our guest, not our customer. It is imperative that you understand this - as regardless of your socio-economic status, if you are referred to us; then we would love to have you at our dinner table.
What, do you mean we can come along for a free fine-dining feed; if we are referred?
Absolutely. Nobody will know whether you contributed to the cost of the evening or not, nor will anyone care. We do this for the love of what we do, not for profits.
How can I work with you guys? I am a sommelier, I can sing, dance or play the harmonica? Can I help?
Indeed, we'd like to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
What about food safety? What if I get sick? Do you prepare foods correctly?.
Although we may dine in obscure locations, we're not silly. All consumables are prepared in either approved kitchens, or under impeccable conditions. We are extremely particular when it comes to food safety; the last thing we would want is a negative experience for anyone involved.
Who is the chef? And who is behind this?
Unfortunately, we sincerely do not want anyone to know who we are. We do this for the love of it; not for fame, not for profits. Come and enjoy an evening with us, and you will soon understand what it is we are attempting to create.
The chef (if you can call him that), isn't really a chef. More of a cook. He learnt his skills at home, at the hand of his grandmother & mother. His attention to detail, and commitment to the freshest and finest ingredients is bar none.
Isn't this illegal?.
Hmm.. Good question. We don't believe it is illegal to have dinner parties with your friends? Go on a picnic; or enjoy a good glass of wine together?.
For those of you that are in the known, this has been going on for years. And although we may have formalised the concept, by building a website & giving it a name; families, friends & groups - have been doing this for decades. This is nothing new, nor do we claim that it is; we're just willing to share it.
What type of food do you serve?
We like to call it modern-casalinga. Which really doesn't make any sense. As the term casalinga, refers to home cooked, traditional Italian meals. I guess you could say, it is our take; on all the beautiful recipees that have been handed down through the generations. Some we wouldn't dare change, and others deserve to be enhanced.
Regardless, we love the food we produce - and we hope you do too.
If you don't advertise, and do not want bookings, why do you have a website?.
Have you had to answer several hundred telephone calls in an afternoon, every day; from people whom want to come and try your mushroom risotto? We have the website, as it is a much easier way for us to communicate with all of our guests. We don't need to explain the benefits of email in this small FAQ, but ultimately; it comes down to convenience, as during the day; we all work in other professions.
Screw you guys if I can't bet a seat, I'll start my own!?
Absolutely! And we hope you do.. And if you need any help in doing so, be sure to let us know.. All we suggest, is to try and buy all your produce locally; support Australian food & wine - and have a ton of fun!
Don't hesitate to contact us if you need help, we'd love to attend one of your private dinner parties! Maybe we can swap referrals?
Grazie mille tante... E' Boun Appetito!!
_________________ I may not live like a king, but I eat like one!
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