Tag Archives: Supper Club

Seasons Eatings Supperclub

2 Mar

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…

Seasons Eatings January Supperclub Menu

Seasons Eatings January Supperclub Menu

Green Shoots

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.

Marmite Butter and Trove Baguette

Marmite Butter and Trove Baguette

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?

Pastures New

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).

Beef and Rye

Beef and Rye

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.

Seasons Eatings

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.

Brill and Clam

Brill and Clam

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.

Budding Talent

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.

Rosemary, Praline, Artichoke and Orange

Rosemary, Praline, Artichoke and Orange

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.

Milk Chocolate and Vanilla Black Pepper Marshmallow

Milk Chocolate and Vanilla Black Pepper Marshmallow

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).

Fresh Flavours

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…

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The Drunken Butcher Sous Vide Supper Club

19 Jan

I love and loathe January in equal measure. Nothing is more tedious than hearing people wax lyrical about the paces they’re putting their digestive system through, and how their John Wayne style walk is everything to do with the squats they did last night and absolutely nothing to do with the festive chafe they’re still experiencing. The only things more tedious is dieting itself, and whilst I never partake fully in the mass January purge, I do love to indulge in a little resolution making, setting out my stall for the things I want to experience and enjoy throughout the year.

Life is just too short (and dieting largely unsuccessful) to strip away the small and consistent pleasures that food brings, which is how I found myself at a supper club before January’s joys and miseries were barely off the mark. The fact that frequenting the supper clubs of Manchester sits high on my New Year to do list is no coincidence, and happens to be one of the happy – and hopefully very achievable – habits I hope to keep.

Supper Club – Sale Style

A supper club, I believe, is the perfect way in which to enjoy food. Blogging last year saw me chasing down sparkly new restaurants or hovering round canapé tables fighting my fellow fat-fingered bloggers for the remaining Char Sui Bao. Constantly taking pictures or circling a room is in no way conducive to meeting people and having a lovely conversation over a delicious meal or socially relaxing bottle of wine – one of the main reasons I set up shop in the first place. Supper clubs, on the other hand, afford that very experience, and for that alone, I love them.

The Drunken Butcher

The Drunken Butcher

Cue the Drunken Butcher, who is fast becoming a stalwart of the Manchester supper club scene. Having first stumbled across him at a pop up down at The Liquorists gaffe, where his meaty inclinations met the bar consultant’s proclivity to create beautifully paired cocktails, I quickly fell in love with his porkfiteroles (cough) and found myself determined to taste more. Over a year later, after many informal soirees at his Sale-based gaffe and testing out each and every one of his kitchen gadgets, I was invited along to see what wonders could be conjured with his latest toy, a sous vide.*

Sous Vide Mackerel with Apple and Lovage Puree

Sous Vide Mackerel with Apple and Lovage Puree

Having previously feasted on deep fried tempura battered bacon and heavily smoked saddle of venison courtesy of Iain’s (his actual name) tinkering, a noticeable step change took place in our meat-obsessed friend’s output. The water bath method of cooking turned our dear butcher tender, and the usual blood lust that accompanies the generous meat mountains that Iain lays out was replaced by a seven course supper of (mostly) fish, elegantly plated and served to me and the seven other food fans and bloggers in situ.

Sous Vide Super Power

Fresh fillet of mackerel with apple and lovage puree fell apart lovingly, and the sous vide treatment afforded the meaty monk fish and sea bass main – swimming (soz) in a heavily reduced fish soup served with a refreshingly light lemon and fennel salad – a luscious melt in the mouth quality. Duck breast, scored then seasoned and cooked slowly for four hours at 54°C, shows just how tender and flavoursome this style of cooking renders its ingredients, lightly seared and plated with a rich Cavolo Nero sauce to finish up.

Sous Vide Duck Breast and Cavolo Nero Sauce

Sous Vide Duck Breast and Cavolo Nero Sauce

Iain’s truly distinctive style shone in the home-cured smoked salmon, contrasted beautifully with a tart cider apple brandy and a little heat from the accompanying horseradish sauce. The applewood smoke permeated the Kilner jar it was presented in, administered using another nifty tool from the sous vide range, and made for a potent, intensely moreish pot of food, though no more so than the duck confit, which couldn’t have been more Drunken Butcher than if he’d lasered his logo on it.

Home Cured Smoked Salmon with Apple Cider Brandy

Home Cured Smoked Salmon with Apple Cider Brandy

Duck leg, salted for 24 hours then vac packed with goose fat (hurrah) and constantly cooked at precisely 63.5°C for up to 48 hours – all before roasting (to reheat), shredding and topping with mash – made for the cleanest yet most disgustingly decadent duck confit I’ve ever experienced. Meat cooked confit this way would see me the happiest and most lard-arsed lady ‘til the end of my days, and if weren’t for the threat to our most beloved NHS, I’d give it a damn good go.

To Sous Vide or not to Sous Vide?

Delicate, wholly flavoursome on account of cooking in its own juices and brightly hued due to the gentle application of constant heat, without doubt, sous vide turns out its ingredients beautifully, and in the hands of someone as creative (and talented at sauces) as The Drunken Butcher, makes the food fun to eat and wantonly moreish too.

Sous Vide Confit Duck

Sous Vide Confit Duck

Would I want to spend precious meeting and eating time working out it takes an hour and a half to make a custard base at 80°C – as mastered for our spiced red wine poached pear dessert with home-made cinnamon ice cream – or sous vide a piece of rib eye steak that then required finishing off as traditional in the pan? No, even if the beef had given up all resistance to canine intervention, and the smoothness of the ice cream rendered dessert a dream.*

Life might be too short to sous vide too, it turns out, but never too short to go supper club (or restaurant) where they make good use of one.

* I wouldn’t mind that Polyscience smoking gun though. I have my heart set on home-made smoky old fashioneds, people, and lo and behold, I have a birthday coming up (hint, hint).

Iain was gifted his the smoking gun by industry suppliers Sous Vide Tools (already being in possession of a sous vide). The food was not gifted, and like the good bloggers we all are, admirably coughed up for the delicious food Iain waited around an age to cook. We were grateful; Iain was remunerated. All is well in the world. 

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2013 – Seasons Eating Supper Club and Final Festivities

5 Oct

Cue mass devastation and weeping, people. Manchester Food and Drink Festival is ready to wrap up for another year, and Albert Square will become a desolate wasteland, sadly devoid of the food, booze and live music we have become accustomed to of late. I’ll soon be back to scouring street food festivals to get my Chaat Cart dosa fix, and bumming around the glut of beer festivals across the North West for the next few months, but until then (and the Manchester Christmas markets, of course) there’s always the memories…

Seasons Eatings Autumn Supperclub at Trove (Wednesday 02 October)

Every year, without fail, the festival gifts me something new. A Manchester venue I’ve never visited before, a cider producer I wasn’t aware existed or a type of street food which becomes an on-going obsession. This year has proved no different, and quite frankly, come up trumps. Scouting the listings early October, I clocked Trove would be hosting an autumn supper club, and having never visited this highly recommended bread haven before, put it top of my festival have-to list.

Trove

Trove

Autumn Supperclub Menu

Autumn Supperclub Menu

They’ve teamed up with Seasons Eatings – two highly talented lady chefs who met at uni and currently hail from the kitchens at Trove and Damson Heaton Moor – to bring the lovely people of Levenshulme and Manchester a monthly feast chock full of seasonal inspiration. This being only the second supper club to date, I’m glad I caught them early, as once word gets out about their affinity for classical flavour pairings, eloquently presented and delivered with a lightness of touch, it will be much harder to get a seat at the table. This is not your standard ‘supper club’ experience.

Roast Guinea Fowl, Celeriac, Apple. Chestnuts

Roast Guinea Fowl, Celeriac, Apple. Chestnuts

Caramelised Fig, Goat's Cheese Ice Cream, Chocolate

Caramelised Fig, Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream, Chocolate

The two standout dishes were the guinea fowl main and chocolate dessert. Tender, earthy white meat topped with a crisp, salty skin and rich, breaded confit guinea fowl balls – masquerading as the menu-promised chestnuts which peppered the rest of the dish – were naturally paired with soft apple thins, parsnip crisps and smeared celeriac puree with a rich, gamey gravy. Perfectly pitched, plates naturally cleared quickly to make way for the caramelised fig, mild tang of goat’s cheese ice cream and salted chocolate ganache served with an elegant edible viola flower. It silenced the room.

Scallop, Radish, Seaweed, Citrus Granita

Scallop, Radish, Seaweed, Citrus Granita

Marshmallow Tree

Marshmallow Tree

Edible herbs and flowers were a feature of the evening, with the scallop starter being served with an oyster flower, which upon eating overwhelmed all the other flavours (in an exciting, non-dish ruining kind of way). Thinly sliced, raw scallop topped with a sharp, sweet lemon granita, it was on occasion difficult to taste the freshness of the seafood, but the textures of the dish, along with the bursts of colour brought by the accompanying slices of radish, made for the most beautiful dish I’ve ever seen. More fun came in the form of apple floss and a coconut, gingerbread and vanilla marshmallow tree.

Otherwise renowned for the breakfasts, organic and florally adorned loaves and top notch pizzas, I’ll be back to try Trove’s day to day offering, though I have my eye on the Christmas do from Seasons Eating. It’ll give me something to look forward to now the festival’s all but gone… Although it’s not quite over yet though folks. Here are a few of the festival’s final hurrahs!

Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards (Monday 07 October)

Did you vote? The survey closed earlier this week, but this coming Monday night will see the glitzy gala dinner and awards ceremony take place at Manchester Town Hall. With the eagerly anticipated restaurant of year award to announce (The French are in the offing for the prize) and hotly contested newcomer prize being fought out between Solita, Luck Lust Liquor and Burn and Artisan (to name a few) it promises to be an interesting night. Keep your eye on the @MFDF13 Twitter feed for live updates.

The Whisky Festival (Saturday 12th October)

Should parting ways with the festival prove difficult, The Whisky Lounge is hosting their fifth annual Whisky Festival down at Bridgewater Hall. Last year, in the name of furthering my food and drink education, (cough), I doused myself in craft beer at Indy Man Beer Con, and now considerably more learned in the art of pint drinking, plan to humbly dedicate myself to the dram. With beginner’s workshops, expert master classes and tastings included within the price (£30 for a full day), the lesson starts here.

So, did you enjoy the festival? What were your highlights, and is there anything you’d like to see more or less of next year?

Gastroclub at The Mark Addy

23 Jun

Gastroclub has given me a lot to be thankful for. My first foray into feasting on vermin for one; the squirrel served in a fetching filo pastry case on that first legendary night at The Mark Addy was a surprise success. An unexpectedly crunchy plate of jelly fish and a gnarly dish of fried chicken feet on our second outing at Sweet Mandarin, not so much.

Sure, there have been some non-starters along the way. A puddle of panna cotta at The Market Street Restaurant was quite the damp squib, and a zealously pan-fried piece of liver when The French was rocking its old livery was NOT the thing, but regardless of imagination or execution, the very least that can be said about Gastroclub is that it’s always an adventure (and fine office conversation fodder the following day).

The utmost compliment I can pay to Gastroclub, is that it has brought me together with the finest group of food lovers Manchester has to offer. Almost three years and many a digestive impasse later, I rocked up to my favourite rough-around-the-edges establishment down by the Irwell alone, happily able to name check at least half the room and call a good few of them friends.

It’s helped that these people pop up at every food and drink event the city has to offer, a good portion of which have appeared since Gastroclub brought the supper club experience home to Manchester. Kerstin Roger’s London Underground Restaurant was only just starting to make waves, and other than Monica Sawhney’s (still going strong) Spice Club, our fair city had little to offer in terms of new and unique gastronomic experiences.

Now knee deep in creative chow, Manchester is ruined for events that feed both belly and brain. From the carnivorous educational feast that is Meat Club Manchester to the grass roots, worldwide inspired street food offering that is Guerrilla Eats, it’s becoming as easy to roll out of the city as it is to roll in. Yet, despite being spoilt for choice, Gastroclub’s short break from the food scene had little impact on its popularity if the welcome back hubbub on Twitter is anything to go by.

Robert Owen Brown addresses the room

Robert Owen Brown addresses the room

Gluttons for food and punishment all, the only predictable part of the evening was the wash of familiar faces found around the packed out restaurant tables, back at The Mark Addy where it all began, kicking off with Robert Owen Brown’s rousing speech on the gustatory joys ahead of us, and a round of applause for the club’s brainchild, Katie Brunt, out of sheer gratitude for bringing back Manchester’s most loyally attended food gathering.

Hollandaise Glazed Truffle Pheasant Egg

Hollandaise Glazed Truffle Pheasant Egg

The hollandaise glazed and truffled pheasants eggs were a mini mouth orgasm – delicate, powerfully earthy and easily snarfed, as was the pastry-encased shank of sea robin (read gurnard – big flapping fins apparently) on an unctuous and meaty chorizo and heritage tomato sauce. Moreish and richly flavoured, again, it all too quickly disappeared.

Sea Robin and Chorizo

Sea Robin and Chorizo

Wild Salmon Carpaccio

Wild Salmon Carpaccio

The fragrant, vibrantly hued slicks of wild salmon, elegantly dressed in a splash of lemon oil and smattering of chive kicked the evening off beautifully, but the four (controversially baby only) beast roast of goat kid, piglet, rose veal and salt marsh lamb halted proceedings considerably, requiring too long a wait on account of the (restaurant admitted) underestimated cooking time.

Four Baby Beast Roast

Four Baby Beast Roast

Hard to tell between the various cuts, and served to the table on platters alongside crisp, mustard dressed salads and simply presented root veg, the scrabble to get a decent cut was often uncomfortable, though delicious and filling nonetheless. The onset of the meat sweats was also a bit of a downer, having me bow out after two shamefully sparse dishes, but thankfully recovered in time for dessert.

Childhood Desserts

Childhood Desserts

A smorgasbord of childhood memories and northern favourites to boot, the Vimto jelly was a great success, as was the delectable cream soda mousse. Never a fan of a coke float, this sad looking shot glass went to waste, but seeing Dr Pepper put to good use in a cheesecake, complete with ginger biscuit base and popping candy covering, naturally, I laid it to waste. Small bites, strong memories and great fun. All in all a pretty successful dinner, and a stonking return for Gastroclub.