Welcome to The Third Thursday Potluck, a monthly supper club that meets every third Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Gigi Gaskins and I started this extraordinary potluck in June 2009 as a way to foster community. Now headed into its fourth year, Third Thursday continues to bring together a cross-section of folks bearing delicious local, seasonally driven dishes. There are no assigned dishes. No RSVP! We enjoy the creative sparks that tend to happen in a less formal structure. True to the notion of “Potluck,” there’s an element of surrender in that, but it always works out. —Nancy Vienneau
Even though we never assign dishes for potluck—such a notion runs counter to our thinking—I am always amazed by how it looks like we do. Each month, the table fills with entrees, sides, and desserts that complement one another. There must be this creative power that we all tap into when deciding our contributions that miraculously orchestrates the meal.
This month, a theme of chocolate and spice pervaded the dinner. Fitting for February, our menu had foods to warm the body and kindle the heart.
Paulette made a batch of mole, a heady New World stew of chicken simmered in assorted chilis, ground nuts, raisins, and bitter chocolate. The fruit of the cacao seed made a beguiling appearance again in Mark’s meat rub, a simple yet marvelous blend of chili, espresso, and cocoa powders that he massaged onto flank steaks before grilling.
In dessert applications, chocolate is a given. But Val’s pie, which melds semi-sweet chips with tofu, not only defies convention, it tricks the tongue. You cannot believe that her creamy-rich confection does not have a speck of cream. Rick’s Rocky Road Ice Cream, a sultry churn of dark chocolate, walnuts, marshmallows, and fudge embraces convention in the best possible way.
By Nancy Vienneau, a food writer in Nashville, Tenn.