On Thursday, April 11, West Main Crafting Co. will be presenting a pairing menu with guest chef Samantha Fore, of Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites. This dinner will be wholly unique in Sam’s oeuvre (and ours), and we wanted to put a little more information out about it to get everyone excited. This, of course, is why we have a website where we can post all the words.
Sam has been a friend of our staff for a long time, and one of the ways Sri Lankan people show love—like many cultures—is to share a meal. In this case, it’s a little like an amalgam of your bestie and your auntie busily encouraging you to eat more, but with drinks. And the experience of eating a Sri Lankan meal with beloved friend-auntie amalgams (et al.) is one marked by outbursts of laughter, the hushed stuffing of one’s mouth, several toasts, and the occasional rousing, spontaneous song. (I’m speaking from experience, here, as last time we harmoniously sang a version of the Family Matters theme song.) Over the course of however many hours, the lines between friends and family are blurred by the circuitous passing of a dozen dishes and condiments, and the humbling act of eating with your hands. By dessert, you’re either breaking out the last drops of whatever alcohol was brought to the meal, or playfully fighting over the last rambutan.
The cuisine itself is aromatic and brilliant; the textures are surprising. Dishes are heaped according to your own liking, with the condiments, vegetables, and protein varying from plate to plate. Almost every bite is unique—a hard-to-reproduce combination of these dishes. Sam identifies the unique quality of this style of eating as the central tenet of Sri Lankan food: it is “the search for your personal, perfect bite.” With every combination comes a new experience in your mouth, and new combinations welcome other flavors to varying degrees.
We at West Main want to bring all of this experience to you, our guests, and run with the idea this highly personal journey in a shared, familial atmosphere. For this dinner, we are presenting a traditional Sri Lankan meal of vegetables and proteins, alongside some of Sam’s personal signature dishes like Curry Shrimp with Coconut Grits, or her uniquely spiced fried chicken. The menu will also feature a variety of sambols used as condiments to heighten the variety of flavors and combos. We’ll be encouraging everyone to order for their table and share the dishes with a family style service. And we’ll be encouraging everyone to eat with their hands (utensils will be provided, of course, as will finger bowls to wash your hands)—an experience that breaks down the seriousness of dining and, contrary to what you may expect, lends itself to comfort.
Our pairings will also embrace this strategy of finding your perfect bite through a multitude of options. Offerings will include a sweet lime soda made from our house lime cordial, a flavor similar to lime soda popular in Sri Lanka, and a slew of cocktails with powerhouse flavors. Some cocktails are house favorites, while others are inspired by various historical precursors from the sub continent and other equatorial locales. We’re also offering these cocktails in flights to be ordered individually or for the table, so you can apply Sam’s tenet to your drink pairings as well.
If we haven’t made it clear yet, this pairing dinner will be unlike anything we’ve shared before or are likely to replicate again. It stands to be the most fun dinner we’ve had by a measure. Most importantly, we want to present a taste of authentic tradition that is also supremely fun, and mash it up with Sam’s personal twists in the kitchen and our passion behind the bar. The fun aspect depends a bit on you all as well, so text your people right now and make your reservation for Thursday, April 11. We cannot wait to share this menu with everyone!