Category Archives: Supper Clubs

Le Cool: Fat Cheeks Valentines Supper Club Preview

I’m enjoying getting back into the London scene, discovering all the exciting new developments and seeing how a new wave of events are building on ideas that started a few years ago.  I’ve written about supper clubs a lot of late and here’s my preview of the Fat Cheeks Supperclub – Valentines Special, in Le Cool London this week.

I’m not averse to a bit of Valentines Schmaltz if I’m honest but it’s always nice to have a bit of fun and originality thrown in as well.

This event is happening tomorrow so it’s not too late to get tickets and Friday is surely a better night anyway!

Fat Cheeks, Le Cool

Fat Cheeks Supperclub preview in Le Cool

Unfortunately it’s a bit too decadent for us right now due to various tropical illness scenarios but it does look like a fun night and yet again another supper club on the London scene!

Going by the name “Love Bites” and with the tag line “Nobody leaves Fat Cheeks without Fat Cheeks” this will surely be a monumental feast. I guess the only concern is if the diners can restrain themselves enough and still have energy to enjoy the hip hop, funk and rare groove sounds playing until 2AM. The menu has food coma written all over it! (In a good way of course…)

So, if you feel your Valentines is missing a bit of fun, frolics and festivity you could do far worse than signing up to Fat Cheeks and having a fabulous feast with them this Friday!

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Melba Supperclub launch

I wrote about the Melba Supperclub launch in Le Cool here and went along to see what it was all about.

We were greeted by Duncan and his partners who have set Melba up as a platform for hosts to meet up with guests and allow organisation of Supper clubs a bit simpler. For those not in the know these cool dining events are an opportunity for budding chefs to open up their home and create a feast for members of the public who come and pay a contribution while socialising with other diners.

The idea of the launch was to get the Melba brand out there a bit and showcase some of the fabulous chefs that they have been working with already. . Melba was invite only previously but now you can sign up here..

Tim Dorman, head chef at Lantana prepared the first course which was a delicious fish cake with Kaffir Lime leaves. I’m always a fan of Asian style fish cakes and these were good with a nice non-rubbery texture.

Fish Cakes Melba supperclub

Hake and Kaffir Lime Thai Fish Cakes with Nahm Jim Dipping sauce and an Asian herb salad

 

Tim was a bit too shy to come and say hello to us all but the other three chefs came and explained something of what they were trying to achieve with their dishes.

The second starter came from “The Candlestick Maker” Ian Ballantyne, and was an amazing Salmagundi or salad with many things. It dates back from the 17th century but this was an updated version! The photo doesn’t do it justice because it looked divine, colourful and unusual, with so many things going on.  There were flavours hitting from all angles and there was sweetness and texture galore. This was my favourite dish of the night for sure. It contained Fried Pickled Potato, chocolate shavings, hazelnut praline among many other things and was served on a bed of Jerusalem artichoke puree.

Salmagundi

Salmagundi

Duncan and Ian

Duncan and Ian

The main course came courtesy of “The Wandering Chef” and it was a table full of ingredients that we needed to put together  to make a duck noodle soup. So we had various types of duck flesh, from a deep-fried crispy crackling to molasses cured sliced breast. We had herbs and noodles to add while the broth itself came served in teapots. The hoi sin sauce made from wild mushrooms was particularly interesting and delicious. It was a novel idea although I felt the bowls could have been a better shape (they were wide rather than deep) and overall the soup wasn’t as flavoursome as I would have liked. The duck egg yolks were a nice touch though, and brilliantly presented.

 

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The dessert was one of the courses I’d been particularly looking forward to because of the philosophical bent the chef had taken in his profile.

Ilyas Kassam, who runs a supperclub called the Thinkers Balcony, gave us a card with some thoughts from Milan Kundera and the Unbearable Lightness of Being which was inspiring and thought-provoking. Well, for me at least. Some of my fellow diners seemed unsettled by the concept.

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Anyway, we had  “A Bee’s deconstructed ice cream” and a Woodfire Dark Chocolate. The Ice cream represented the lightness with a texture that made it disappear almost as soon as you looked at it while the chocolate was sturdy although with perhaps not such an intense flavour as it promised. Again, great presentation with the chocolates, which were unique to each batch and displayed on a small log. The ice cream ingredients I have been given are “comb honey with grated galangal and kaffir cream, honeycomb, bee pollen, freeze-dried lychee, and Lime Zest” which all sounds fabulous but I have to say we were all at a bit of a loss as to how he had constructed such an interesting dish. I guess this is the point and it certainly got us thinking and talking.

We were sitting with Hiromi who had provided us a selection of her Japanese spiced nuts as a snack which were so moreish we had to restrain ourselves, and also Alexandra who provided a delightful take home surprise of Peruvian Alfajores.

 

Japanese Spiced nuts, Melba, Kinomi

Japanese spiced nuts

Melba supperclub

Sophie looking gorgeous. I need some work here…!

Melba seems like a cool platform for connecting people and I can see it growing as more folk get involved. Once I have a space hosting might be something I’d be interested in as well.

 

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Melba Supperclub event in Le Cool

Another Le cool piece. This time about the fantastic sounding Melba supper club organising system. The idea is that you can post an event on their site and other users can search to find things that sound to their liking. It’s like a social network for supper clubs allowing hosts to take bookings using Paypal. It seems like a great idea to me, fixing up potential hosts with guests. Maybe it takes something away from the underground “in the know” vibe but if it spurns a host of new people hosting wonderful parties then it can only be a good thing!

Melba piece in Le Cool

Melba piece in Le Cool

I’ve been to a few supper clubs in the past and of course it depends on the host and the people who you happen to share the experience with but they certainly have the potential for a brilliant night. You can meet all sorts, eat great food, see inside someone’s house and do something a bit different all in one night.

This promotional event is to showcase some of the hosts that they have been working with and to party afterwards with some DJs. They have four up and coming young chefs and two DJs to entertain in a funky venue near Old Street. Sounds like fun to me so I’ll be heading down there to check it out and you should as well!

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Tapas!

As someone who is thouroughly indecisive and wants to try everything Tapas is pretty well perfect for me.  I mean, I like an all you can eat buffet but have a tendency to overdo it so somewhere I still have to make a selection but can choose 4 or 5 things rather than 1 is brilliant!

Of course Tapas is about more than just multiple dishes to share, it’s about good quality fresh ingredients, and it’s about sharing and making food into an event.

Last week those good people at Sauce Comms invited me and several other members of the food blogging cognoscenti to a “Secret Cena” to promote the launch of Phaidon publishing’s new release “The Book of Tapas” by Simone and Ines Ortega.  We were told to rendezvous at Borough Market’s Tapas Brindisa and were met by head chef Jose Pizzaro who contributes a couple of recipes in the “guest chef” section of the book.

We had a couple of beers standing in the doorway and getting in people’s way (as the bustling restaurant was doing a roaring early evening trade) eating stuffed olives (when Meemalee wasn’t chucking them over the floor) and other nibbles it still wasn’t entirely clear what the secret part of this evening was set to be.

Once everyone had arrived (I may be forgetting people but our gang definitley consisted of @R_McCormack, @EssexEating @FoodUrchin, @GastroGeek, @MathildeCuisine,  the aforementioned @Meemalee and @Bribedwithfood) we were shepherded across the road and on a short walk to where we knew not.

Soon we were walking past a gym and into the courtyard of a rather nice appartment complex, the penny didn’t drop until Jose held open the door and told us his flat was on the third floor.

Yep, that’s right, we were being treated to Tapas at Jose Pizarro’s flat, the way it should be done.  He told us that Tapas is about entertaining, about good company, good food and good wine!  Never one to argue with this kind of suggestion I was hugely impressed that he would be so open and trusting to complete strangers.  It’s something which I think Londoners are getting better at, given the rise of the supperclub and all that but it’s still not something that comes entirely naturally.  Jose has lived in London for 11 years so he can be classed as a Londoner but I guess the Spanish hospitality is what shines through!

So, a selection of delicous hams and cheeses, a stunningly moist and light tortilla a chorizo paste and some bread got us started and while we mingled in the lounge and around the table it sunk in where we were.  Jose had a couple of assistants helping to cook the warm dishes, the chorizo in red wine sauce was so moreish and the plump prawns and juicy scallops just sensational.  English Asparagus is the best apparentley and it was served hot.

With such sparking company and excellent food we could barely fail to have a great time, hanging out on the balcony and enjoying wonderful hospitality.

I didn’t take any photos – didn’t quite seem right in someone’s flat but here’s what the book looks like (if you haven’t got your glasses on and everything is a little blurry)…

I’m going to try the vegetable tortilla recipe later I think..

Next post I shall be attempting to even up picture/words ratio since I think I’m going to heavy one way or another at the moment.. (That’s called deconstructing..)

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Fernandez & Leluu

It is hard to know where to start in reviewing a night that was essentially just a really swell party. I’d heard wonderful things before visiting but the hype was well and truly lived up to on Tuesday as Jim Haynes, surely a man with the ideal lifestyle, After Eight and Qype helped them to host a Dinner Party through the Decades.

Having been to a couple of supper clubs before I thought I knew the drill but the crowd here tonight turned it more into a cocktail party than anything as Johan the Mixologist served up Bellinis while we mingled.

With Qypers and food bloggers rubbing shoulders and appreciating the sensational starter selection it became clear that this was going to be something of a special evening. Crispy Spring Rolls and Summer Rolls stuffed to absolute bursting point were superb while the take on the Prawn Cocktail (2 large tiger prawns in Garlic & White Wine with Mayo) worked nicely as well.

Then the cocktails came out in force with a refreshing Summer Tom Collins, the Bramble which didn’t quite have as much Blackberry as I was expecting, and the rose one, which most had as their favourite.  For more detailed reviews of the drinks check out Billy’s Booze Blog.

The main course consisted of rather yummy mushrooms, a delicious carpaccio of beef and a baked potato mash. Not as immediately stunning as the starter but we were satisfied and really beginning to get into the swing of things by this stage as it was time for Jim to regale us.

Jim is someone who for the last 30 years has had upwards of 60 people coming into his home every Sunday for a dinner party, and funnily enough he is entertaining, engaging and accommodating as you might expect. He told stories about how he had brought people together and of his foolproof method of not upsetting the neighbours (take them food).

It was a pleasure to be in the company of someone who unashamedly lives in the moment as an existentialist; his favourite food is the food he is eating right now, and by extension Fernandez and Leluu’s was his favourite supper club, at least that night!

We rounded off of course with a wafer thin mint and what was described as a summer fruits spotted dick. This was an incredible finish, baked croissant with white chocolate liqueur sauce, raisins and strawberries, just fabulous. So good in fact that Luis The London Foodie got so excited he managed to spill sauce down his front, how lucky to be wearing a black shirt!

An incredible event, Jim will be getting some new guests to dinner, this and other supper clubs will no doubt get an attendance boost now we have the bug and we all left with a box of after dinner mints and a tale to tell. “Did you hear about that night in East London when everything just worked?”

They do it here twice a week and I salute them.

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…And you will know us by the trail of our bread

My second ever supperclub and boy was I excited…!  Invited by the lovely Gastrogeek and amused by the name of this place aping the post rock outfit www.trailofdead.co.uk/ I was all set for an evening of madness..

The theme was “Lunacy” you see and on arrival to our secret East London location we entered the huge space and found ourselves transported to a Wonderland setting.  It certainly ended up pretty crazy but I’ll come to that later…

The enormous space where Jim lives is just perfect for this kind of event, plenty of room for tables and a large kitchen to prepare the food without being apart from our merry gang.  Interior designers by trade they had kitted the place out wonderfully, with wobbly mirrors, magic mushrooms and wonderous lampshades among other touches.

We had a goodie bag containing an Eat Me sugar flower, a Drink Me mini bottle of flavoured Vodka, which initially we were concerned might be absinthe due to it’s colour, a gift (I had a plastic nose) and a bag of popping candy which shamefully I’ve just remembered is still in my bag…

Anyhow, that was just the start as we mingled with some of the other foodie blogger types who were in attendance and wished that we all had somewhere as unique and big as this to hold our own events!

A delicious Chestnut and Chorizo soup with caramelized onion was the starter as we settled in and were even treated to, impossible to turn down, seconds.  It’s rich texture and intense flavour were just what I needed after a tiring day tramping around East London; I’d seen some real sights that day but I was so ready for dinner by the time we got here!

The second course was  pasta with Mushrooms and Tomatoes replacing the expected nettle dish because the nettles weren’t out yet, another victim of the late spring.  This was delightful and light tasting after the dense soup, we turned down second helpings but only because we were wary of getting too full!

The main course was Rabbit w/ petits pois, cider, lettuce and spiced glazed chicory (the mad march hare of course..) It was tasty, if a little tough and reminded me that my Mum had always served my sister and I rabbit in various guises when we were children despite us having two bunnies as much loved pets.  I would have been devastated at the time if she had told us what we were eating rather than chicken.  I only found out about three years ago.

After this and before the in-season and on trend Rhubarb Fool with a tasty Ginger Shortbread things started to get a little odd.  One of the other tables was getting rowdy and all hell seemed to break loose as photos were reluctantly posed for and conversations turned from bizarre to insane.  Was this entertainment laid on to enhance the lunacy element?  I don’t think so, but it certainly gave us one of the biggest laughs of the night even if there were a few uncomfortable moments!

You can tell I’m a novice to this blogging malarkey and technically challenged by lack of camera as well… however to see some photos from this event I recommend this photostream from Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flib/sets/72157623594230347/with/4469719420/

We managed to avoid being in any of these but there is real evidence of Gail’s birthday cake in these which was disguised and on show throughout the evening as a plant pot.  With crushed Oreos as a realistic soil its lucky I’m not more green-fingered…

To round off we had the classic “Crazy” (wobbly) desert of Jelly!

First a taster of a lime leaf effort which hadn’t quite set but was quite delicious and then a taster of absinthe jelly which was interesting but in small enough portions to not scupper my long journey back across town…!

I’m off to another of these supper clubs (Fernandez and Leluu) on Tuesday and I can’t wait

Sign up for future events here

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