THE TACO SITUATION || SUNDAY, MARCH 6

Photos by AMP Imagery & Issac Gardener

Photos by AMP Imagery & Issac Gardener

Dear Denver,

Thank you for being supportive of those moments when I'm in the shower and decide I HAVE TO HAVE AN BRUNCH CALLED THE TACO SITUATION and then run around like a chicken with its head cut off until it actually happens. Thank you for eating all of the weird breakfast tacos we put in front of your face and for enthusiastically drinking the horchata cocktails (or any boozy drink, really) that we make. Thanks for being really stylish in the photos we take of you and for understanding when I reference Beyoncé on our swag bags. Mostly and truly, though, thank you for welcoming me to your city open arms and eager appetites. I love you.

Love, Megan

P.S. Extra thank yous to all of our partners and sponsors who made this event a thing: Chef Kyle Morgan of Morgan Handmade Rations, The Hive on 16th, El Camino Community Tavern, Kesitas, mixologist Lawrence Mack, Iris Gardener, Issac Gardener, Fork Monkey, Scott Lahn, AMP Imagery, & Pure Lee Photography.

WEEKEND LINK PARTY

currently reading linchpin (again)

listening to this song and this podcast

made this sweet potato gnocchi this week; wanting to try this caesar brussels recipe

this beautiful post makes me want to dye my hair

in the spirit of valentine's week: sex bark

adore this backdrop for a party

denver discoveries: this new bar looks so cool, enjoyed the creative dishes + cocktails at rebel, love walking to this tea lounge for late afternoon dates, the classes at this gym are SO HARD and so good

 

BEER + MUSIC POP UP DINNER || SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6

We done did it again! The Dinner Party Association teamed up with The Revelry Initiative (all the way from Chicago!) and Beryl's Beer Co. to create a night of beer-soaked, musical magic. We paired five of Chef Parker Brown's Colorado-inspired dishes with five of Beryl's barrel aged beers, then sat back and enjoyed live music from Denver's Zach Heckendorf and Chicago's Pat McKillen.

MENU

veg: mushroom/carrot/ginger/beet + vilawald 15

soup: chicken/cabbage/jalapeno/cancha + paper moon

rice: sesame/scallion/egg/peas + saison rye

meat: short rib/noodle/peanuts/cilantro + antero

sweet: fritter/peanut butter/grape/whipped cream + jingle beans

COFFEE BEER BRUNCH || SUNDAY, JANUARY 24

Photos by Nora Logue

Photos by Nora Logue

Hey Denver! It's offish. We're a thing, you and me, together. I hosted my very first pop up in Denver this past Sunday, and I've still got the warm fuzzy feels. We brunched in the Logan House Coffee warehouse with Chef Kyle Morgan of Morgan Handmade Rations. There was even a (vegan + gluten free) dish made by yours truly. Check out what we ate + little touches, and make sure to check out our next event, here.

WHAT WE ATE

1 // thai fried egg with pickled carrots + charred rice paper

2 // rosemary chia pudding jars

3 // colorado trail breakfast || apache fry bread + pork rillette + preserved pear

4 // shortbread trio: sesame rye, sage, and thyme

LITTLE TOUCHES

coffee pear stouts, vintage yellow goblets, florals by sacred thistle, fresh rosemary

WEEKEND LINK PARTY

back when this blog was just a blog (and less of a live event situation), I shared my weekly musings on food/drinks/music/books etc etc and called it the "weekend link party." my brain only has a certain amount of space for party things, and while that's actually a BIG part of my brain, there's lots of other stuff flying around in there. I've decided to bring the weekend link party back as a place to share some of my other brainworks and a way to get to know the girl behind the dinner parties. so, here goes!

currently reading do over (does anyone else have a weak spot for career-related self help books?) and roy choi's memoir/cookbook, LA son

listening to this record and this band and this podcast

have you heard of highbrow? it's a free email subscription that sends you five-minute mini courses every morning on the topics of your choice. this is great for someone like me who likes to lay in bed and scroll through my social media channels before getting up. i've been learning about seo this week!

we've been living on quinoa or rice bowls with lots of beans and veggies. loving this article for tasty new ideas!

I'm starting a little collection of cool glasses for parties. garage vintage and art district antiques have the prettiest things!

do you guys use skillshare? I've been using my three-month free membership for classes on marketing, digital media, and photography.

denver discoveries: this perfectly curated men's shop, the long i pie shop opens TODAY, stowaway has the pretty food of my dreams, I MUST check out this tiki bar asap

 

I LOVE NEW ORLEANS

I'll say it again for good measure: I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. There's really no place like it. This was my first trip to Nola, and it was a total party for my senses. The colors, the music, the flavors were all so bright. I stayed in this magical Airbnb near the French quarter, with crazy tall doors and wild green walls. There was a balcony overlooking a pool and courtyard that was perfect for morning coffee/evening wine sipping. I was about a mile's walk from the bustling part of the French quarter, where I spent most of my time in ducking into restaurants in search of crawfish and cocktails. A few of the places I tried and loved:

Cafe du Monde // Beignets + cafe au laits for breakfast (or any meal, really) are a MUST.

Cochon // A meat heavy cajun restaurant with a cool bar. I tried the braised pork cheeks with white beans and herb salad, which was served in a little skillet and was delicious. The waiter also suggested fried boudin and the Louisiana couchon.

Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone // This is a real life, moving carousel that's also a bar. Belly up for a classic Nola cocktail and perhaps a po'boy if the mood suits ya.

Sylvain // This place was suggested to me so many times that I had to check it out. I showed up without a reservation (but mostly everyone suggestions you make one) and tried a few craft cocktails while writing about my travels. I had a sazerac (delish!) and a "No Fun" (a little sweet, but still nice and boozy).

Lüke // Looking for a late petit-dejeuner and a good cocktail? This is the spot. I was searching for a gumbo + sazerac night cap, and Lüke did not disappoint. A few friends told me their brunch was tasty as well, and I have to say that fried chicken + tabasco honey biscuit sounds like a good idea.

WANDERINGS

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm heading out to explore this country in just a few days. I'm in a rare in-between stage, with no job, no rent, and a lot of time. My goals for the rest of this month are to have a dinner party on a farm with my best friend, sleep in a safari tent, eat beignets in New Orleans and BBQ in Austin, see some music in Nashville, write everything down, take a lot of pictures, and let my mind run wild.


11/7 denver > portland
11/8 portland > bend
11/9 bend
11/10 bend > denver
11/11 denver
11/12 denver > santa fe
11/13 santa fe > marfa
11/14 marfa > austin
11/15 austin
11/16 austin > new orleans
11/17 new orleans orleans
11/18 new orleans > atlanta
11/19 atlanta
11/20 atlanta
11/21 atlanta > nashville
11/22 nashville
11/23 nashville > valpo
11/24 home (indiana)
11/25 home (indiana)
11/26 michigan
11/27 chicago
11/28 chicago > des moines
11/30 des moines > denver

BLUES & BBQ: A DINNER PARTY

Another pop up dinner in the books! Last night I teamed up with Chef Stevie Cho and local blues band, Skin & Bones, for a Blues & BBQ themed evening in Los Angeles. We were originally supposed to party in an alleyway in Pasadena, but switched our venue at the last minute due to rain (in LA?!). We were so lucky to be able to move over to Littlemeats, LA's coolest creative space and, ironically, where I first met Stevie Cho. It was a cozy night with seriously great company. The deets:

WHAT WE ATE

1 // 14-hour smoked beef brisket

2 // pulled pork

3 // white kimchi coleslaw

4 // soy sauce pickles

LITTLE TOUCHES

menus designed by @tommylundberg, bluesy tunes, checkered paper food trays, hollywood farmers market flowers

ON INSPIRATION

Hi, friends! Just popping in to talk about pop ups and inspiration. I'm in party planning mode for my next pop up dinner, which means if you're friends with me it's sort of all you've been hearing about (and will continue to hear about for the next three weeks). I truly love the process--taking a spark of an idea, mixing it in with good food and booze and hard work, and creating an experience that comes straight out of my daydreams.

Someone asked me this week, "Where do you find inspiration?" and I actually found it to be a tough question at first. Everywhere? Thin air? I had to sit down and actually retrace my steps to how some of my ideas were born. My next party, for example, is a pop up dinner with handmade soda pairings. I thought back to seeing some gorgeous beet sumac sodas at Madcapra in Grand Central Market and to my favorite soda shop in Highland Park. That's where the idea is born, and then all of the other event details come from letting that one idea bounce around in my brain. I think identifying where you find inspiration and how you continue to be fed by that is really important for continuing creative work. Here are a few things that help me stay inspired:

Keeping notebooks. I seriously write everything down, often more than once. Sometimes ideas just need to simmer for a little while to reach their full potential, ya know? I keep my day to day lists and ideas in evernote on my iPhone and always travel with a paper notebook in my bag. Writing everything down is a great way for me to balance organization while letting my brain run wild. Just the other day I was flipping through an old notebook and found a quote from an old coworker: "You've got chutzpah!" I fell in love with the quote all over again and started dreaming up paintings and parties using those words.

Having a routine...and breaking out of it. Keeping a routine opens up some of my headspace for ideas. For example, I love my daily breakfast routine of coffee and a green smoothie bowl (almost) every day. It allows me to wake up and let the creative juices start flowing, rather than start It also allows me to open my eyes a little wider to detail when I break out of my routine. I pick up on the nuances of breakfast at a cafe or the taste of coffee at a cabin, and allow those differences to be sources of inspiration. 

Travel. My friends know I've taken lots of little weekend trips this year--I've been to San Francisco (twice), Denver (also twice), the Midwest, and Santa Cruz. This one sort of goes back to breaking routines and really noticing the different senses that wake up in a new place. I can remember being flooded with ideas while drinking wine and eating meatballs alone at a cafe in San Francisco--weird, but amazing. Trips are great for recharging my mind and resetting my perspective. 

Taking breaks and moving my body. I take a walk every day on my lunch break to get a change of scenery and get my blood moving a little bit. I think it's so important to really stop and get my brain out of office mode, even if it's just thirty minutes. Also, as much as I drag my feet getting out the door for a run, the runner's high is so real.

Collaboration. I couldn't host any of my events without some help and input from other creatives. I've been so lucky to work with chefs whose dishes make the entire pop up come alive--you can taste their vision. It takes a team of supporters, from the event space owners to the dishwashers to the coffee roasters to the ice sculptors, to make an event come alive. Input and suggestions help add that extra sparkle--they often offer ideas that you would never have thought of on your own. Welcome it! Idea party! I love parties!

SUMMER CAMP: A POP UP DINNER

Hi! It's been a little while (four months!) since I had a pop up dinner party, but I hosted one last night and I'm still coming down from that dinner party magic high. I'd been dreaming up a summer camp-themed dinner party for a little while: think camp crafts, metal cups, and fancy s'mores. I partnered with LittlemeatsLA, a rad live work space in Los Angeles run by Robin and Johanna Chang. I was so lucky to work with the loveliest Chef Joanna Ramos, who took my vision and turned it into a menu that fit the setting perfectly.

WHAT WE ATE

course 1 // toasts with peach balsamic jam, smoked burrata, and crispy basil

course 2 // cucumber canoes with heirloom tomato gazpacho, pickled watermelon rind, and guanciale

course 3 // cassoulet with longanisa, great northern bean, and skillet cornbread

course 4 // graham cracker ice cream, ganache, burnt marshmallow fluff, brown sugar rum dirt, chocolate tuille

LITTLE TOUCHES

handmade god's eyes, flowers from the los angeles flower district, folk music, enamel mugs

TOAST: A BRUNCH

One of the things I love about the world inside of the internet is the ability to find and connect with super rad, like-minded friends. The latest of those connections, Jen of happened to be a local lady and became my latest brunch co-host. Jen interviews millennial female founders to tell their start up stories. I discovered this fellow LA lady on Instagram, shot her an email, got together for a cocktail, and BAM! A party was born.

The idea behind our party was to bring together a group of inspiring LA ladies to network (and have lots of sparkling wine and giggles) over brunch. The group we invited ranged from founders to managers to designers to engineers, all with one thing in common: they were true lady bosses. The amount of drive, passion, and straight up girl power in the room was

We named our brunch “TOAST,” and hosted in Jen’s pretty Venice backyard. In typical party and carb-loving fashion, we had to make a toast bar. We toasted and topped the tastiest bread (from this awesome bakery) with fun combos like smashed avocado + lime + radish, cashew butter + truffle salt, and herby ricotta + walnuts + honey. We divided and conquered the rest of the meal–I handled the salad and Jen the frittata. She made an egg white frittata in a wok, which is one of the coolest egg tricks I’ve seen. I tried to throw everything colorful into my salad, so I tossed rainbow carrots, edible flowers, vibrant radishes, and crunchy pepitas with a homemade pistachio vinaigrette.

Did I mention that Tatiana from Troubled Ice made a strawberry-fields-forever-esque ice sculpture for housing champagne? How do I meet these bonkers amazing ladies? This brunch was really what it’s all about for me–building community over champagne, success stories, and really tasty breakfast foods.

 

LATELY

We’re mid-makeover over here on the DPA, but I wanted to pop in and give a little update on what I’ve been up to. I’m in the process of showing this site a little love and planning a couple fun parties for this summer, plus planning a couple trips to Denver, Santa Cruz, and Portland.

1 // I’ve been hosting more yard and porch parties in Pasadena. I feel so lucky to live in a place with a yard, mountains, palm trees, and sweet friends to come over to have rosé and popcorn with me.

2 // I celebrated two years in Los Angeles. I sort of can’t believe it’s been that long, but I sure am thankful for all of the things that have happened in that time. I’m in such a good place right now–happy, loving my job, and excited for opportunities ahead.

3 // I took two short trips to San Francisco to start and finish a really special tattoo. I stayed in the marina with some of my favorite people ever, went out for meatballs and wine, perused bi-rite grocery and had A LOT of good coffee.

4 // I catered an event for the first time! I made a giant taco bar with Thug Kitchen’s beer & cauliflower tacos (plus lots of slow roasted pork shoulder). It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me realize I’m capable of party-throwing for bigger groups than I thought.

5 // I went to vegan beer fest with my homegirl from Brewing Happiness. We had a lot of beer and treats, my favorite probably being fried brussels sprouts. This cake from Bramble Bake Shop was just beautiful.

6 // I’m home in Indiana right now for my brother’s graduation party. We made a taco bar to feed an army and three fun agua frescas (coconut guava, pineapple mango, and cucumber watermelon). I guess taco bars are kind of my thing right now?

ZACH'S GOING AWAY FIESTA

    Meet my friend Zach. He’s one of those people that come into your life like: HI, we’re going to be friends forever now. Zach is an incredible musician and a lover of life’s best things (peanut butter, red wine, dark chocolate, jumping into cold oceans). He’s doing big things and going places. One of the places he’s going is Vermont, to live for a while and make lots of music. We threw a little going away fiesta in my backyard, complete with homemade horchata, Zach’s favorite fruit cart, roasted root veggie tacos, and lots of avocado. Cause extra avocado makes saying bye to your friends just a tiny bit easier.

    Miss you already, Zach. Come back soon!