There's this new alt-experience happening in Toronto: underground dining.
Apparently - and I learned about this first from BlogTO which, while fun and informative, is not exactly subversive - hip, happening peeps are supper clubbing in secret locations (!) all over the town.
The gist is that you email "private" organizers (who work with a chef), make plans, are notified of the address to your intimate event, attend, enjoy and pay. It's like a restaurant only it's not. And by this I mean, there isn't really the same quality accountability, one imagines. Not to mention it's vaguely illegal re: licensing and food prep. Not that I'm all fussed about that. I mean I do eat in holes-in-the-wall in chinatown occasionally. (OK, I never do but I'm making the point that I'm not all fussy about it.)
(OK, I'm totally fussy about it but I'm trying to sound all urban and reasonable.)
Blog TO refers specifically to two such organizations: one of which looks pretty pedestrian (same place, same time, same folks, same food) while the other is for serious food people i.e. you have to fill out a survey and make the cut before you are invited to attend.
When speaking with my mother about this, she advised that they have a similar scene in Italy. Apparently, reputable hotels will set you up with a host who treats you to the real experience of Italian eating, homestyle. You can do it alone or with other couples you don't know. It costs about 40 euros a person.
I'd love to be a part of a fee-free culinary network in which someone like me maintained a database of others like me - decent, hand-washing, food-loving, excellent-dessert making, ambiance-inspired, music digging, vaguely vulgar, plugged in urbanites with bite - who could pair up (maybe randomly). One would host, the other guest. Like a key party but the sex would be food and everyone would get it on en masse!
Wouldn't you love to check out some sweet house in Cabbagetown/Yorkville/High Park/Riverdale/Dufferin Grove/Queen West, meet the inhabitants, drink some wine (brought by you, natch, a good guest) and eat a completely spontaneous meal with people you've never met? At its best it could be the most terrific hook-up of your life. At its worst, a food-pushing, awkward experience you could chalk up to nerviness. Maybe guests could arrive in groups of 4 (all of whom know each other) so that, even in a worst case, there would be lively conversation.
It's kind of risky, huh? Actually subversive - if friendly. And I don't think anyone's doing that yet.
I'd actually willingly take on either side of that equation - host or guest. What do you think?