La Jolla's Whisknladle to offer the ultimate in social food networking — dining with strangers!

Catharine L. Kaufman
Catharine L. Kaufman

Flirt, make friends, share worldviews, and the love of food and wine as you break bread with perfect strangers at the laid-back Whisknladle during the newly launched Supper Club offered once a month in La Jolla.

Arturo Kassel, the managing partner and winemeister, aka King, Tyrant and CEO of the bistro (along with sister hot spots La Jolla and Del Mar’s fledgling Prep Kitchen) has collaborated with executive chef Ryan Johnston to create a culinary and social adventure in the private dining room, a multi-course gourmet meal with wine pairing.

Twelve venturesome foodies (with a limit of four people per reservation as Kassel’s ultimate goal is to have a dozen solitary, complete strangers) are invited to dine together on a Tuesday, indulging in delights served family-style to enhance interaction, intimacy and fun. The next one will be March 29.

The edgy restaurateur’s whimsical inspiration was ignited by “my fondest dining experiences at the Whisknladle, the underground supper club in Brooklyn from which we got our name, or anywhere you eat with strangers or put yourself at the mercy of the chef,” Kassel said.

While the “supping with strangers” concept has been around awhile (it’s a well-healed dining practice in Europe, and seen in this country with the swelling of communal tables, Japanese Tappan, murder mystery dinners, speed dating and that ilk), Kassel’s motivation is not to reinvent the wheel, but to “do it really well.”

That includes letting Chef Ryan challenge himself with free creative and culinary reign (after all he grew up in the kitchen alongside his father, a butcher) and using seasonality and locally grown food, like gems from Chino Farms, and seafood.

The spirit of the upcoming Supper Club menu was plucked from “Lulu’s Provencal Table,” Chef Ryan’s favorite cookbook. The gourmet feast will start with a mouth-watering aperitif of house-made salt cod brandade and garlic croutons, raw fish salad “merou a la Tahitienne” with deep-fried artichokes.

A savory bouillabaisse will tease the palate before the piece de resistance arrives, a roasted spring leg of lamb with ramps and fresh thyme as the main course centerpiece, accompanied by sautéed morel mushrooms, Chino-chard gratin and asparagus vinaigrette.

For your just desserts, house-made fromage blanc, Chino strawberries, rhubarb and Meyer lemon. The $75 meal includes a glass of wine paired with each course. At the end of the evening you’ll no longer be 12 “strangers in the night.”

Here’s a recipe for Ol’ Blue Eyes’ favorite dessert, “Dooby-dooby-doo” Tiramisu. Ciao!

Classic Tiramisu

(Where possible, use organics)


6 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups of mascarpone cheese

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups of heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon of hazelnut or almond extract

2 12-ounce packages of ladyfingers

1/3 cup of Kahlua, Starbucks or other coffee flavored liqueur

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

1 semisweet chocolate square or bar

Directions: In the top of a double boiler, water boiling, combine egg yolks and sugar. Reduce heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whip until smooth and lemony colored. Blend in cheese until well combined. In a mixing bowl, whip cream and hazelnut or almond extract until stiff peaks form, and blend into the yolk/cheese mixture.  Set aside.  In a large glass bowl, line with half the ladyfingers. Brush with the coffee liqueur, and spread cream mixture on top. Repeat with a second layer. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and garnish with chocolate curls, (use a vegetable peeler, sliding it down the edge of the chocolate bar).  Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Whisknlade, 1044 Wall St. (858) 551-7575.



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