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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.