Encounter’s September event was held in the Marin Headlands with a gorgeous table set on a perch overlooking the Golden Gate.  After an exhilarating ride in the Headlands, we enjoyed the best of summer’s harvest prepared over the open flame.  Flavors of duck, cherry and tomato paired with crisp summer wines, the sounds of laughter creating a symphony with the distant fog horn.

As the chef, yes, I hope guests remember the food; but more than that, I hope they remember the ambiance.  The feeling and texture of a moment in time, surrounded by friends—new and old—when maybe, just maybe there was just a little bit of magic.

The evening's menu and select recipes are below the photos!


humdoldt kumamoto oysters with foie gras and jura wine

onions three ways, grilled bread, 'njuda

celery bisque, shrimp, roasted walnut, golden raiser, brown butter

tomato and melon salad, burrata, fresno chili

duck confit, cherry mustarda, kolhrabi slaw

sticky date pudding with hot toffee sauce


tomato and melon salad, burrata, fresno chili

For the tomatoes, I like to find a mix of larger heirloom varieties cut into wedges, along with cherry tomatoes cut in half.  Late summer brings one of the best gifts of the California harvest, dry-farmed tomatos, which have a deep garnet color and amazing flavor concentration.  They are only available for a short period in September so eat them up!

Serves 4

  • 1.5 pounds tomatos
  • 1.5 pounds cantaloupe or other similar melon variety
  • 1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini or other oil-packed pickled peppers
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • a handful of torn basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a large ball of burrata

Cut larger tomatoes into wedges and the cherry tomatoes in half and put into a large bowl.  Remove the rind and the seeds from the melon and cut into cresents, adding to the bowl with the tomatoes.  Season generously with salt and pepper and toss gently.  Add the pepperoncini and vinegar and toss again gently.  Taste and adust the salt, pepper, pickled peppers and vinegar to taste, then add the olive oil.

Mix half of the basil into the salad, sprinkling the rest over the top of the salad.  Then pull apart the burrito and distribute over the salad.

sticky date pudding with hot toffee sauce

Not only is this recipe, curdiosy of Tartine All Day, gluten-free, it also beyond delicous.  You will have extra toffee sauce, but then I've never heard someone complain about having homemade toffee leftovers.

When baking, I can't recommend using a scale enough, which removes the need for all the messy measuring cups.

Makes 1 9-inch cake

  • 2 cups dates, pitted and coarsly chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (90g) almond flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (50g) tapioca flour or corn starch
  • 1.5 cups (180g) oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line the bottom of a 9-in pan with parchment paper, cut to fit the pan and lightly butter the sides.

In a medium saucepan, bring the dates and water to a low simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the baking soda to the saucepan, being careful as it will start to fizz, turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes until cool.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, tapioca flour/starch, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add the sugar and continue to beat for another 1 minute.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and date mixture, beating until just combined.  Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cook in the pan while you make the toffee sauce.

For the Toffee Sauce

  • 3/4 cup (165g) unsalted butter, cut into peices
  • 1.5 cups firmly packed (270g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.

Nothing short of a magical expirence
— Asha Agrawal