On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Andrea Lubrano and Eli Goldstein hosted one of their signature DJ Cookbook Dinners at Black Flamingo, but this time it was personal. In lieu of special guests for chef and DJ, Andrea and Eli cooked and curated themselves, honoring not only the holiday for affection but their 5-year wedding anniversary as well.
Each course was inspired by a city where their relationship grew, and each track came from “Songs of the Day” emails Eli has sent Andrea since 2010. Because what’s a relationship without community, they invited friend and sommelier Lindsay Howard to pair wines, and local ceramicists Amelia Black, Danielle Pomorski, and Michael Sprecher to craft the vessels. And because what’s community without consciousness, all proceeds from this dinner were donated to the ACLU.
As guests mingled under nostalgic balloons and garlands, miniature caraway-seed arepas circulated with lentil pâté, hearkening Eli’s culture of bialys and chopped-liver with Andrea’s own Venezuelan profile. Andrea, in chef coat and floral snapback, perched herself by the bar, describing locally sourced ingredients, interrupted only by a glass falling in the kitchen and a guest exclaiming, “Mazel tov!”
From a New York squash salad to a Miami saffron broth, Berlin confit potatoes to Roman carciofi alla guidea, courses delicately traveled in flavors and stories. Diners swooned through floating tortellini, cleansing their palates with a boogie across the floor. Eli in a brown corduroy suit pulled records in the corner like Roy Ayers’s “Poo Poo Lah Lah” — tunes sweet but ever-groovy.
Shimmering tinsel centerpieces called to mind ‘60s discos, and soon enough guests began adorning themselves with the metallic wreaths. We devoured our rustically-glazed plates, reveling in the tastes of memories. This menu told the tale of their relationship, a cross-pollination of their backgrounds and their journeys, but also served up a plant-based culinary experience that nourished the diners in a way that felt sincerely focused on well-being more than pomp. These two prove that fine dining can be about soul.
Food and music are arts for the people, and the DJ Cookbook Dinners put this feeling at the heart of the matter. Eli and Andrea are creative spirits, but their pieces are never framed or shelved, instead consumed and enjoyed. Their expression fuels laughter, twirls, and conversation.
As the evening wound down, and the Boston-inspired dessert of root vegetables and cream-cheese and crumble was savored, Eli emerged from the turntables to clink his knife on a wine glass, calling Andrea from the kitchen for one tender slow dance.
Andrea read an excerpt of Alain de Botton’s to the crowd: “We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.” Eli grinned as she added, “You’re my kind of suffering, baby.”
We may be fearful of what’s happening in the world, we may feel aggravated by those closest to us, and we may doubt ourselves, but we must always remember to come together, share good food, move to the beat, and love each other. To life!