Tag Archives: Guest Post

Midlands Supper Clubs

When I told friends that I’ve been invited to attend two Supper Clubs, their responses ranged from intrigue at trying something new to trepidation of dining at a secret location. I’m torn between Italian cuisine in Warwickshire or a French menu in Birmingham to try, so I hope that writing this post helps me to decide which one to go to!

Historically born out of out of paladares of Cuba, London, New York and Amsterdam were quick to popularise the idea of Supper Clubs. As a pop-up dining experience that caters for individual tastes, Supper Clubs have evolved as an alternative to ordinary restaurants or stuffy dinner parties. With a recent survey by YouGov revealing that 40% of us now think that dinner parties are too expensive, time-consuming and stressful to bother with, Supper Clubs are most definitely here to stay.

Inspired by the idea of sharing good food, every month Alex and Sara Chambers throw open the doors of their Warwickshire home and invite strangers to dinner. As owners of Squisito Deli, the couple extend their love of Italian cuisine to foodies who join them at the Squisito Supper Club for a five course meal.

Squisito Supper Club menus make the most of fresh seasonal produce that are also prepared with the Slow Food ethos. Frolesworth free range chicken with green olives and Squisito preserved lemon, Sardinian pecorino with pink peppercorns and Warwickshire honey all featured on their last event.

Squisito is the only Supper Club that I am aware of in Warwickshire, but there are a few more running in Birmingham.

The Tan Rosie Caribbean Supper Club is a chance to sample Caribbean dishes from Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Cuba in the hosts’ living room in Erdington. Chef Monica says that their Supper Club is “a great way to eat fantastic home-cooked food, meet new people and broaden your knowledge of Caribbean food in a fun, friendly and safe environment.”

Over in Bearwood, baked scallops and prawns in saffron cream and duck in balsamic syrup with dauphinoise potatoes were main courses for the first Supper Club held at the end of May. Cake maker Rachel (one of the Crafty Muthas) and professional chef Richard have teamed up to run a new monthly Supper Club for up to 20 people. Rachel says that guests can expect “a five to six course meal served over a good three to four hours with background music, atmospheric surroundings and plenty of chat!”

Judging by the response on Twitter, Le Truc Cafe’s first event on Saturday 9th June could well be a sell-out.  Du pain, du vin and beaucoup de fromage are promised at La Soiree Popette in a secret location in Birmingham.

So what makes a successful Supper Club? Genial hosts who genuinely food and cooking, a popular cuisine and chance to try something new seem to be the winning combinations. With a bring your own drinks policy, £25 is the average price that you can expect to pay for a truly memorable Supper Club evening.

Whether you want to try out recipes on friends, be a chef patron of your own restaurant for the night or just entertain for less money, running your own Supper Club is the dining revolution you’ve been looking for.

If you’d like to run your own Supper Club, then there is only one site that I’d recommend. Kerstin Rodgers, also known as mrsmarmitelover, is a food blogger and pioneer of supper clubs in London –  launching one of the first in the UK back in 2009. Her blog is packed with recipes, photos and tips on running a great Supper Club that is stylish and individual.

Alternatively, enjoy the experience by being a guest and check   http://www.supperclubfangroup.ning.com to find your nearest Supper Club.

http://www.squisito-deli.co.uk

http://www.tanrosie.com/supperclub.html

http://welovebearwood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/bearwoods-got-taste.html

http://www.letruc.co.uk

www.marmitelover.blogspot.co.uk

By Tracy of Midlands Gourmet Girl

Bring back the Bliss at Gloucester Quays Food festival

Lois Parker of Bring Back the Bliss, a blog that focuses on gluten free cooking went to investigate Gloucester Quays Food festival. Here is her report: 

I generally avoid food festivals.  An odd thing for someone obsessed with food, who cooks all the time and is on the committee of their local Slow Food group.  However, food festivals are full of food, and often food that has escaped from packaging and rampages around in people’s hands.  How much of that is likely to be gluten free?  Pretty soon every surface has been handled by people who have touched the bread used to dip in fancy oils and vinegars, nibbled the biscuits and cakes, wolfed down pies and pasties.  Dangerous places, food festivals.

I went to this food fair as it isn’t too far away and it is the first in that venue.  I booked to see food demos early on the Friday, assuming that it wouldn’t bee too full and I could get around safely.  The place was pretty much deserted, so I was right on that assumption.  On the next day, a sunny saturday at the start of the school holidays, the place had a lot more people.  Add to that the TV stars were giving demos, and that meant that the whole large demo tent was filled.

I saw four completely different presentations.

I saw Rob Rees, a campaigner for good food in schools, food writer and chef.  He was clearly competent, managing the audience and his cooking with ease.  He used the demo as a chance to give a lot of food advice.  The organiser with the microphone did nothing other than introduce him.  He cooked salmon, blanched vegetables and salad.   His other dish was steak, crushed potatoes and a red wine  sauce.  Most of the vegetables came from his garden, and he explained his choices for each ingredient.

Rob Rees at Gloucester Quays

The second chef was Rob Owens, head chef at a restaurant called Monty’s in Cheltenham.  He seemed completely focused on his cooking and didn’t chat.  The organiser seemed to feel it necessary to ask questions and run a commentary.  I didn’t stay for very long.

The third one, on Saturday morning, was Gino D’Acampo, a TV chef.  He worked his audience with great ease, and managed to introduce sex at almost every point of the event.  He is a very pretty young man with a great deal of flair, and the adulation from the crowd was palpable. He cooked linguine with Gorgonzola and chicken, and a chocolate and cream desert (helped by a young audience member).

The fourth person was Stacey Stewart, who is a Masterchef finalist and runs her own bakery in Sunderland.  She was well organised, informative, got the audience to interact with the making of the food.  She asked for a tall person to help, and got a man who looked like the BFG, to stir her risotto constantly for fifteen minutes.  Five people to try poaching an egg including two children.  She cooked smoked haddock risotto with poached eggs and black pudding.  She also got the participants to wash their hands before handling the food.  She didn’t kiss any of them.  The organiser went around the audience with the mike getting questions but didn’t need to coax or fill in gaps.

Whilst it would be nice to be as popular as Gino I think that route is unattainable for me!  I did think that Stacey’s style was comfortable and considerate, and she is the closest to a role model for me on these demos.  Rob was very good but he did feel a bit too pushy with his message – and his statement that if you eat grapefruit when you take statins it will kill you was definitely extreme!

I still think I would like to do demos.  There are clearly issues of getting timing right, and baking would be harder that other types of cooking.  You need to structure the activity so that there is always something happening. You have to put up with cooking if only one person comes to watch. 

I did learn one useful tip by careful watching. Pile all the chopping boards you need on top of each other in the order you need them.  Then you can simply discard them one after the other and keep the cooking process smooth and neat.

 By Lois Parker of Bring back the Bliss