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Virtual Supper Club Redux: A Soco Dinner in Cyberspace

Written By Scott Joseph On May 5, 2020

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More than 40 of us got together last Thursday for a Supper Club gathering, but we did it without violating any social distancing guidelines.

We met via Zoom, the online app that allows face to face meetings. Mostly used for businesses and educators to connect remotely, Zoom seemed the perfect platform to use for a food and wine tasting.

And the inaugural event with Soco Thornton Park went quite well.

There were difference from a usual Supper Club. For one thing, attendees had to pick up their food orders at the downtown restaurant on the day of the event. (Some of us within a certain radius of Soco were able to take advantage of the restaurant’s free, staff-provided delivery service.)

South Steel SJO March AD copy

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The takeout sacks contained all of the elements for our three-course dinner, including two bottles of wine. A “welcome cocktail” to sip as we waited for everyone to arrive in the Zoom room was optional, though most participants requested it.

Chef Greg Richie and his crew had carefully assembled all of the ingredients, some of which we had to further assemble at home. Also in the stash: the two bottles of wine and the cocktail, served in a plastic container with secure lid.

When the guests began arriving at 7 p.m., the first person they saw and heard was Wes Hamrick, the renowned pianist known for playing at Disney’s Grand Floridian and downtown’s Grand Bohemian hotel. Playing on his grand piano at his home in Longwood, Hamrick provided a lovely cocktail atmosphere for the beginning of the event – and he played again when it was time for us to go to the kitchen and heat our entrees. He even took requests.

Virtualsc richieChef Greg Richie as seen from the smart tablet of Supper Club zoomers Sharon and Joe Hegedus.Joe

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Once everyone had arrived, I introduced Richie who explained the three courses to us. As he spoke, guests could watch videos of some of the preparation that Richie had shot in the Soco kitchen. We also watched a video of Soco bartender Tim Wilz preparing the evening’s cocktail, the Strawberry Fields.

We were also fortunate to have representatives from the two featured wineries discuss the pairings.

Virtualsc lexicon sauvignon blanc hq bottleVirtualsc pinot

Fran Kysela, the importer of our first wine, Lexicon, a 2018 sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, spoke to us from his home in Virginia. He told us how the wine was produced (stainless steel fermentation, no oak) and told us what tasting notes we should look for. There was prominent grapefruit but also a bit of apple. Since he was in Virginia and couldn’t get to Soco to pick up the food, he couldn’t offer a direct comment about the pairing, but he acknowledged that the ingredients of the salad should match the wine nicely.

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Those ingredients included bits of Benton’s Country Ham, chunks of cantaloupe and mozzarella balls with toasted sunflower seeds and a balsamic-basil vinaigrette. (The above photo is how Richie recommended it be plated.)

While we nibbled on our salad, we also heard from Joe Otos, the winemaker for Carson Scott and Owl Ridge Wine in Sonoma Valley. Speaking to us from his kitchen (his son was just off camera doing his homework), Otos talked about the 2018 Pinot Noir that was chosen for the following two courses. Black cherry was dominant with just a bit of vanilla.

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Even his tasting notes suggested it be paired with a pulled pork sandwich, which was one of the optional serving suggestions for Richie’s Barbecue Rubbed Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Sweet Potato Gratin. Accompanied by apple slaw and a fresh chive biscuit, the pork could be eaten with a knife and fork or shredded and placed in the biscuit as a sandwich. Everyone loved the pork but the biggest oohs and goos were expressed for the sweet potato gratin.

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Dessert was a Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pineapple-Lemon Marmalade.

Throughout the meal, the guests chatted, asked questions and enjoyed the occasional song from Hamrick. Technologically, things went well. There were only a few glitches – and the director forgot to push the record button – but all in all it went well.

We all expressed a desire to be able to gather for a real, in-person Supper Club soon, but as one participant said, whenever that happens we’ll still have to use Zoom to bring in the winemaker. Having that expertise on hand was just too good.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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