Last week myself and partner hosted a supper club at our flat in Wandsworth. Not having done one before and not knowing quite the general etiquette or rules for this particular branch of dining institution, we were relatively unequipped. I mean, we knew how I thought the supper club should be run, but beyond that didn't know what to expect, who would be coming, how the direction of the evening would form. What if the conversation ran dry?! Shit. Coupled with the pronounced notion that it could be an actual re-enactment of 'Come Dine With Me' with diabolically pretentious guests critiquing my food, like assholes, and picking holes in my decisions. Cool, not worried at all then...
So, starting with picking a date, followed by the development of a very vague outline of a menu, I posted details of the event online through the website 'meet up'. You can click here to see my posting (and also some pretty fab reviews from my very lovely guests!).
(To the left is my Mackerel starter.)
Onto the money - payment comes through paypal in advance so funding the evening was in advance, pretty tidy in case you just so happen to be living by the skin of your teeth...
The premise of the evening was british seasonal fare, meaning the menu wouldn't be finalised until the week leading up to the event, so I could source the best quality and most bang on season produce. A few weeks prior to the event, I started making syrups and vinegars from seasonal foraged berries (which i previously posted about). The blackberry and hawthorn vinegar was tasting particularly good in my mind, and my gut instinct was telling me it was going to be an epic partner to a tasty bit of venison. Thus, I had selected my main course and later devised the rest...
Scouring borough market, whole foods, and supermarkets for the best produce was my aim, and I indeed finalised my menu which, despite all the planning, left me with very little time to spare to sit down for a much needed glass of fizz before the guests arrived!
So, at 7 o clock on the dot, we welcomed our first guest, and the rest trailed in from there, meeting (thankfully) abundantly flowing conversation and a full evening of seasonal fare.
Welcome drink -
My version of a 'Jamaican' - cold steeped hibiscus tea, with Vodka, Orange, Burnt Orange and mint.
Canape 1 -
Marinated heirloom tomato with goats curd yoghurt and basil
Canape 2 -
Salt cod brandade with gentleman's relish and sea purslane
Canape 3 -
Crispy chicken skin with hibiscus granita and sorrel
Starter 1 -
Earl Grey Smoked Mackerel with Gentlemans relish, carnival squash, pear, kale crisp and nasturtium
Starter 2 -
(Homemade) fresh cheese with rosehip and yeast emulsion, malted sourdough croutons,
Fermented barley grains with sorrel reduction and chestnut mushroom
Slow cooked shoulder of venison with venison reduction, blackberry and hawthorn, celeriac puree and a celeriac sheet.
Earl Grey baked custard, with whisky caramel, almond meringue and creme fraiche
Unfortunately - due to the hectic schedule we gave ourselves of plating up in our small kitchen, and the number of courses, neither myself or partner remembered to take pictures of everything, frustratingly, but in the gallery below at the bottom of the page are a small selection from the evening...
Supper clubs can be as easy or as hard as you make them, i made mine a little tricky - lots of courses, but I wanted to impress! In the future, I would without doubt simplify things for myself, but then again, that's half the fun, and I kind of thrive on the challenge.
What's really great, is that you get to hear feedback from complete strangers, not friends who may be biased, and when it ispositivve feedback, it's something that you honestly really want to hear. I hope to god they weren't lying, but I don't think so! Here's the feedback that was posted on the meet up website:
An amalgamation of a beautiful setting, lovely company and fantastic food (oh that venison!) by an extremely talented and creative chef... Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable night Harriet and Richard (and for the ski-tips!), I'd say let's have this supper club on a weekly basis :-)
Harriet Mansell is a delightfully friendly and fabulously skilled chef! Her supper club with her lovely partner Rich, is the best I have ever been to!!
A seriously talented chef. Inventive and surprising dishes, very well presented. Great ambience. Cool evening.
Lovely exciting food with unexpected twists. Beautifully done!
Fantastic night with exceptional good, company and atmosphere! We'll done Harriet and sous chef Richard! You nailed it!
Can't wait to do the next one!!