Sticky Pinny and I are getting a bit of a reputation as supperclub obsessives! Less than a week after our trip to my home supperclub in Edinburgh, we found ourselves on a train hurtling across the penines to Manchester. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with Manchester. It always seems like, culturally, it has loads going on. However, this is set against what often feels like a very aggressive, intimidating, gritty and quite dirty city. It also didn’t help that as I entered Piccadilly it was a busy half term shopping day – i.e. hell on earth. I was in two minds about turning round and getting on the next train to a quiet, tranquil countryside idyll.
We had the pleasure of dining at My Home Supperclub last night, one of Edinburgh’s most popular and successful supperclubs. It is run by our friend Aoife, who we have got to know via the supperclub network and have since stalked to make her be our friend! Aoife had invited us up to dine at a special event she was putting on for supperclub pioneer Kerstin Rodgers. The other guests were all foodies, so I think Aoife had her work cut out putting on an excellent spread for a demanding crowd!
I’ve met Aoife a few times now and it always strikes me what a modest person she is and that she is perhaps not 100% confident in her talents as a cook and as a host. I’ve never had any doubt at how good she would be, so it was excellent to see her in action. Without giving too much away, her supperclub is in part of the beautiful Georgian new town of Edinburgh – a place I have come to love recently. It has a bohemian atmosphere and a fantastic array of delis, butchers, fishmongers, pubs and bars etc. You never need to go into the city centre as every need is catered for.
My Home Supperclub is one of those understated yet very elegant kind of venues. We were greeted by soft lighting, relaxing music and vintagey table settings. Aoife, like many supperclub hosts, has given up parts of her apartment to be able to live out her cooking hobby.
We started our meal with a delicate cocktail of prosecco with hibiscus flower – very glamorous indeed! Our starters were little breads called dohkla, which were served with a very fresh and intriguing green coconut chutney. I understand that the chutneys are made at the last minute so they are as fresh as can be. This was swiftly followed by some beautiful mini pani puris which were filled with an array of exciting textures and flavours. It was fun finger food and there were lots of positive noises being made around the table.
We were sat with supperclub siren Kerstin Rodgers who is an interesting character indeed. She regaled us of stories of her celebrity encounters. One of which was Hardeep Singh, who inspired the ‘twitter curry’ that was served up as our main course. I won’t spoil the story about Hardeep (mainly because I don’t want to get done for libel!) but do ask Kerstin for it if you meet her! Aoife and her co-chef Meena, of Chai Lounge, worked hard to also serve us an okra and potato curry – which has to be the first time I’ve ever been able to eat okra! The star for me was the bejewelled pilau rice, which was so soft and well cooked. A triumph for the chefs! It came with a warm yoghurt concoction which is spooned over for extra luxury.
Our dessert was a chai pannacotta with mango sorbet. The pannacotta almost had savoury notes, which was great to experience. The sorbet helped to lift it and it was a good end to a very filling and satisfying meal.
It was great to chat to some truly interesting folk including Hilary, who runs top food blog http://mymonkfish.com/ and Nikki a very refreshing and straight talking wine expert. She’s about to publish a book which I shall look forward to reading. Check her out at http://www.convivium.co/
Finally, it was lovely to have a proper chat with Aoife in her homely kitchen. She’s one of life’s good people who deserves all the success she is experiencing with her foodie venture. It was a tough call for her to cook Kerstin’s recipes at the same supperclub she was dining at, but I think she pulled it off extremely well. My only qualm was that I wanted to eat some of Aoife’s beloved game, as well as share in her jelly obsession – which just means one thing really, I’ll have to go back!
Do go and visit if you’re in the Scottish capital. But make sure you get booked in as she won’t ever have vacancies for very long!
As it has been Susie’s birthday, I treated her to a night out at The Lounge’s Beer Club. I’ve been to the wine clubs quite a few times, both at The Lounge and when they used to take place at Room, before its demise. I’ve always loved the opportunity to try lots of new wines and broaden my knowledge about what tastes nice with certain foods. I do like the Lounge since it’s had a refurb. The restaurant upstairs is cosy and the menu is full of reliable British classics. I always wonder why it is never more busy! The beer club had been on my list of things to do for a while, as Susie and I do love a good ale.
This week’s ale was provided by one of our favourite brewers, Saltaire Brewery. They’ve been brewing ale since 2005, although it’s actually made in neighbouring Shipley! I’m always pleased when a Saltaire beer is on, as they make it with some interesting flavours – including hazelnut, chocolate and raspberry. This doesn’t make for an artificial tasting brew though. They actually manage to give the drink a proper depth of flavour – a real grown up drink.
Our canapes were paired with raspberry pale, which was topped up with fizz. It was surprisingly refreshing and pleasant. To my horror we didn’t get a look in with the canapes, which seemed quite basic and meany anyway. Guests will never be let down like this at the Manor 😉
We headed upstairs for our main meal and more ale. I guess the beer and wine clubs operate a bit like supperclubs because they sit strangers together at tables, encouraging you to chat. I think some couples were put off by this as they had not been expecting it! On other tables large groups had come together (I guess staff teams?) which made it a bit loud for chit chat at our table, which was a shame!
Starters were prawn and scallop skewers with chorizo, paired with Cascade pale ale. The fish skewers were cooked well and I love chorizo with anything anyway. We were informed that the Cascade cuts through the fattiness of the chorizo, which is a characteristic of pale ale. I enjoyed!
Our duo of mains were salmon and asparagus paired with Saltaire Blonde, whilst a rabbit and chestnut pie was paired with Crystal Red. We were given an interesting talk about both ales and I should have taken notes really, but I was too hungry! From what I remember the blonde ale acts similarly to a white wine – a nice light match to the fish that doesn’t overpower it. Plus, as it came bottled it had a slight fizz to it. I agreed that the match was a good one. The Crystal red is my kind of beer, much fuller, tastier and served at room temperature. It gets its red colour from the amount of time that its left to ferment, giving it a real malty (rather than hoppy) flavour. The pie itself contained the ale too, but for me it was far too sweet to stand up to the beautiful ale. Interestingly enough I was in the Lounge the next day enjoying some leftover Crystal Red – and it was amazing on its own. Oh well, not all the pairings will suit everyone.
Our final course was a chocolate and Seville orange tart paired with triple-chocoholic. This beer is seriously dark and has been brewed with three types of chocolate. The brewers chuck in a load of fuddles hops so that it’s not a sweet and sickly ale. Potentially it could have worked well with the tart – if they had used a nice bitter chocolate. But, alas, it was milk chocolate! Plus the tart cases looked like they had been bought in to cut corners, a slight disappointment.
Overall they were extremely generous with the beer. Susie and I both had busy days at work the next day, so we felt a bit guilty knocking back the ale – but hey it was birthday time! The food to beer ratio was not so good and we left still feeling a bit hungry (probably because we are pigs!). The brewer from Saltaire was lovely and informative, he really made the evening for me. Looking at their website they make about 30 different ales, so I look forward to trying some more.
Susie and I are now very keen to host our own ale themed supperclub, where we’ll pair delicious ales with good British food. We have such a plethora of excellent local brewers who we can’t wait to work with. We’re already in talks with our friends at Leeds Brewery to put on an event in February 2012. So if ale and food tickles your fancy then watch this space. We’ve started a waiting list for this event, you just need to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, thanks to our guests who are booking on fast to our Mexican themed supperclubs in January. Thanks for trusting in us so much by booking so far in advance. It is you and your willingness to try new things that really makes the supperclub, so thank you and we look forward to meeting you. I think we have about two spaces left on both the Friday and Saturday nights so bag your space now by booking here.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT HAS NOW SOLD OUT! We’ll be announcing our Feb 2012 events soon…
We are pleased to announce our first couple of dates for 2012, plus you can reserve your place here on the site!!
Friday 13th or Saturday 14th January 2012
Beat the January blues by joining us for a night of exotic tastes and spiciness! Like the rest of the UK we’re mildly obsessed with Thomasina Miers, the nations favourite Masterchef!
I am freshly home from a rather gluttonous weekend indeed. I simply had to record it for pure food porn reasons alone!
It all started on Friday when my parents had come up, from the South, for a little visit. I had already decided I would cook them elements of our November secret supperclub menu as a way of testing some new things out. I think I pushed their food boundaries a bit, with a rabbit starter and a mutton main course. But overall the meal was well received and I was pleased with the experiment. However I do find it hard receiving feedback and at times it felt like Mum was channelling her inner Gregg and John from Masterchef, hmph! Continue reading
Last night Susie and I had the pleasure of attending the first night of ‘Homage to Fromage’ an evening that aimed to celebrate cheese by bringing together fellow cheese lovers, filling them with fromagey facts, feeding them with oodles of the real stuff, and bringing to Leeds unique artisan creations to truly widen our cheese perspectives. Run by lovely cheese geeks Vickie and Nick it was held on the shop floor of Millies where we milled around with glasses of wine and fistfuls of cheddar.
For those of you who were unable to join us on Saturday, here is a sneaky peak of the wines we paired with our Nigella themed meal.
Our wines were sourced mainly from the Bergerac area of France. It would have been nice to have showcased some British wine (including some from Leeds!) but I’d just come back from a holiday in France and it made sense to stock up on delicious French plonk whilst away! We’ll do British wines one day though.
The Bergerac wine-growing region is a subregion of South West France, and is located
around the town of Bergerac in the Dordogne, located immediately east of the Bordeaux
wine region. Bergerac soil features excellent drainage as a result of its proximity to the Dordogne River Continue reading