Food trends can get pretty tiresome, no? Even if you personally called the latest fad to topple dude food, or find yourself basking in the glow of uncovering the contender to Simon Rogan’s crown – smug sensibilities aside – you will inevitably suffer the indignity of seeing your find trampled upon by every food nerd in town, followed by a spate of pretenders springing up to steal your prize discovery’s sunlight…
Not emotions ever experienced by me, you understand. An eternal late bloomer, I’m far too rooted in (read weighed down by) last year’s fried chicken trend to outpace this country’s ever-evolving victual vogues, and living in Manchester, have needed peer no further than my Twitter feed to keep abreast of original ideas from our fair capital taking seed in our increasingly food obsessed city.
Of late though, it seems a spring awakening is occurring in our little corner of the North. Green shoots in the form of undiscovered cooks, inventive little food producers and the occasional lesser spotted food concept – we’re nurturing home-grown talent which has real potential to blossom into something beautiful. All quite exciting, really, but how to find them?
Having eschewed overly conceptualised restaurant openings and corporately sponsored food festivals of late, I started trawling local markets, and keen to get away from the foodie rent-a-crowd, stalking supper club owners on Twitter. Street food stalls, off-the-beaten-track eateries and food clubs have all been on the agenda, with each and every one providing shiny new eating experiences in abundance (and not a Manchester Confidential critic in sight).
How else would I have gotten to try Colombian street food if it wasn’t for the street-side ministrations of Arepa! Arepa! or understood the true potential of bacon if Bobby’s Bangers (of Levy Market fame) hadn’t cured it in marmite. It’s this new crop of food markets, home-hosted supper clubs and street food festivals that enables the more adventurous foodies of our fair city to set out their stall for minimal outlay, and the rest of us to feast anew.
Most brilliantly, it allows producers to tweak recipes and chefs to shape their style over many months, all whilst building a following, which is exactly what the gifted ladies of Seasons Eatings have been doing. Since I first encountered them late last year at their supper club promoted through MFDF, they’ve blossomed from a monthly event rooted in the ambient surroundings of Trove to more regular appearances at North Star Deli in Chorlton and the fabulous Fig + Sparrow in town.
Determined to nurture their own style, between them having worked in everything from city restaurants to private yachts, Issy and Suzy’s use of unusual, seasonal ingredients gathered in and around Manchester isn’t anything new, but their execution is. Toying with techniques to best showcase flavour, the girls’ keen palates and deftness of touch makes for dishes which allow big hitting ingredients to shine, all whilst bringing together beautifully the composite textures and tastes across the plate. Budding talent, indeed.
At the supper club I attended in January, two dishes truly shone. First up, the starter of rich, raw beef fillet served on crisp rye bread, expertly balanced by the sweet tang of pickled shallots and flecked with olive oil powder, all of which emulsified and spread the earthy, piquant flavours featured in the most mouth-watering way.
The rosemary ice cream served on a sesame praline inspired most awe, however. The fragrant, herby flavours paired beautifully with the nutty, umami rich base, making for an intensely moreish few mouthfuls. Sadly, the accompanying artichoke and white chocolate mousse failed to see the unique flavours come through, though the use of blood orange fruit and jelly unified the dish texturally, and introduced much needed sweetness as a foil for the creaminess of the dessert.
Home-made marmite butter slathered over a freshly baked Trove baguette to open, pillow soft vanilla and black pepper marshmallows served with coffee and a fruity, rum based Campari cocktail to whet our appetites before the main, even the punctuating dishes and drinks served packed a mean punch, constantly keeping you keen for the next dish (or supper club, should you sadly find yourself at the end of the meal).
More often than not, Season’s Eatings ingenious use of ingredients works wonderfully, and reading their Twitter feed – the only place they post pictures and detail their upcoming events – continue to become more bold and inventive as feedback pours in and more people shout about their food. Its people like Issy and Suzy who are keeping our food scene fresh, rather than buy into the same old food trends creeping up from London. Who needs another dirty burger, anyway?
So, you heard it here people, (though not first, naturally). Loathe as I am to share, for fear of never getting a seat at the table again, their next supper club at Trove is on 03 April 2014. Don’t all rush at once, now…