Thursday, 30 August 2012

Supperclub Summit: Rhineland Rockers with Saffron and Salt: Meatfeast (a.k.a. I ate horse!)

As with all great returns it is important to remake your mark with something a little unusual.  So here we go!

My friend Jenna and I booked ourselves into the above Supperclub event on Saturday August 18th.  Part of the appeal was the German/ South African pairing as well as the idea of a meat feast (I can't help it - I am a proper meat eating Southern African at heart and there are just some things you can NOT change!).  The venue was the Goethe Institut.  It was an inspired venue in terms of location and the room was well placed for its use.  It was a particularly hot evening and it would have been great to have enjoyed the terrace as it took some time to cool down once we had sat down.  There was also a slip of the tongue when we found out we could have been out on the terrace but would have had to move half way through the supper (as the light would go before the light disappeared) but none of us would have minded.

One of my favourite wines of the night!

I did not know much about the featured chefs but found out a little bit here.  The menu was adventurous and there were most certainly a few surprising flavour combinations I had not encountered before.  On arrival we were offered German wine pairings with each course (or buying bottles of what was available) and we opted for the 'wine tour'.  They were all specially selected German wines to complement each course and only cost an addiitonal £22 - a bargain for 7 glasses of wine!  The wine pairings and descriptions below are from Torsten Goffin's blog post and I use them with his permission.

The first if the 7 courses was a charcuterie platter.  It was small and had the effect of an amuse-bouche.  I have to apologise that I did not get a photograph of the dish as I only remembered my mishap as I swallowed my final mouthful!  Oops!.
The wine pairing for this course:
Geheimrat J Riesling Sekt QbA 2008
Geheimrat “J” meeting the Geheimrat “G”(oehte) in London.
Many Riesling Sparklings tend to lack a special kind of richness. This one does not. Creamy. Full. Rich. Winy. Simply one of the best riesling sparklings I’ve ever tasted.

This was followed by Himmel & Aad (apple, potato and black pudding).  Torsten Goffin, one of the chefs,  had really thought about his presentation and  it was great to get a description of each of his dishes.  What stood out about Torsten from the beginning was his personable manner and consistent presence.  The black pudding was 'melt in the mouth' and the small apple cube sweet and perfectly formed!.  The dish, Torsten explained, is usually accompanied by onions but they thought spring onions would be a nice touch - it was.  I think this was the last of Torstens courses but I am not sure.  There were 4 people responsible for the menu and I must apologise for not having noted which courses were accredited to whom.

The wine pairing:
Duett 2011, Sauvignon Blanc-Riesling-Cuvée, Metzger
We’re celebrating Meatfest, aren’t we?
Climate change constantly brings new varieties of grapes to Germany. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most successful newcomers – especially at Pfalz. Riesling is still the No. 1 over there. Blended together to a very fresh mixture by a newcomer-winery with a great QPR. 

Himmel & Aad

Course 3 was Erbsenparfait & Raucher-Forelle (Pea and mint parfait, smoked trout with a fish and gin consomme!).  I don't like peas and mint but I loved this parfait.  The parfait was had sesame seeds on the outside ( mine did not - allergies) and Jenna said it added extra nuttiness - something I would know nothing about.  I loved, loved, loved, loved the fish and gin consomme.  We were told that it was intended to be sipped after a mouthful of hte parfait and salmon and he was sooo right!  I have to admit though that after the first sip, I saved it till the end then downed the whole lot.  Yummy!

The wine pairing:
Gäns “Alte Reben”, Riesling QbA 2009, Lubentiushof
Schist, wild yeast, riesling. A perfect match.
This is a really great dry riesling from the Mosel. Deep – without being heavy. Vibrant - without being nervous.

Erbsenparfait & Raucher-Forelle

I loved the name of the next course.  "Finkenwerder."  The lovely gentleman, seated by my side, who worked at the Institut was excited about this and said that it was a special and well known dish in Germany - although I can't remember why.  I think it had something to do with the fourth glass of wine...  Thus was also his first supper club and he really was enjoying the experience.  We both agreed that this was better than an ordinary restaurant experience!  :-D.  Oh - "Finkenwerder" = haddock, bacon and shrimp. The haddock completely melted in the mouth!  Phwoaaar!  The bacon was in the form of a bacon flavoured bun to give some texture (and possibly some carbohydrate?!).  I thought this course was great.  You can find out more about Natalie (the chef) here  whilst the recipe can be found  here .

Wine pairing:
Scheurebe Spätlese 2011, Klaus Peter Keller
Scheurebe - the german answer to Sauvignon Blanc.
Very intense wines with remarkably complex aromas. This one is restsüß, which means it has some amount of residual sugar. Nope, not the Blue Nun kind of restsüß. This one is made by the winemaker who also produces the maybe best but definitely most expensive dry riesling of germany – the “G-Max”.


Pork belly crackling and apple sauce accompanied the terrine.  It was also served with chicken liver pate and onion chutney.  A nice little surprise that was not on the menu... I like that!  the pork crackling was really good but several others questioned its pairing with sweet apple sauce.  I personally thought it was fine as the apple sauce had a sharpness that I favoured.  My terrine was different as both the main terrine and the pate contained nuts.  I had the onion chutney and some cheese with my terrine.

 Pork belly crackling in apple sauce, ham (I think) terrine, chicken liver pate and onion chutney.

Allergy friendly version of the above.  :-)

The next course was my most difficult to stomach - Sauerbraten-Maultaschle!  The simplest translation = I ate horse!!  I think it would have been fine if I had not known what it was before I ate it!  It was encased in pasta - but it was still horse!  Markus Brendel (a designer by profession, and responsible for this course) reassured me that the meat was from a happy horse and had been well prepared in vinegar and other things for many hours etc...  But it's still horse!  We all had 2 pasta on our plates and I have to say that I ate one.  One other ate none of it, Jenna (one of my best buds) had a single mouthful and other diners appeared to have eaten it all!  If I had to describe the taste I would have to say that there was a sweet, sour taste to it (due to the marinading in vinegar I guess) and it was not too bad.  I was finefor 2 mouthfuls and then the images from years of riding came flooding back!  :-(  I ate horse!!

Wine pairing:
Frühburgunder 2008, Bäder
A special german variety of Pinot Noir.
Ripens earlier than normal PN. Rich, intense and fruity. From a small winery runned by a couple of young winemakers. 

Despite the contents of the dish I (personally) enjoyed this course for 2 reasons:
1.     It was a great conversation piece and perfect for a supper club experience.
2.     If you cannot push the boundaries and be creatively true to self in your own supper club, then where?

Sauerbraten-Maultaschle up close!

I did it - I ate horse!

We had pulled goat which I can't remember but Jenna can so I assume that we definitely had it!  (Sorry guys...)
The wine paring:
Schulen Spätburgunder 2008, ZiereisenMade by the “one-man french revolution in german Pinot” (Winerambler)A classic barrique-stored Spätburgunder (a.k.a. Pinot Noir) from Germanys sunniest wine-region: Baden from PN-Shootingstar Hanspeter Ziereisen. 

To end the evening we had Schwarzwalder Kirsch (Black Forest Gateau).  It was the lightest gateau either of us had ever had.  It was not too sweet, not too chocolatey and not too creamy!  It went down very well and was demolished in no time at all.  It was the perfect ending to the meal.

Wine pairing:
Bopparder Hamm Feuerlay Riesling Auslese 2011
The sweet final.
Comming from the core of Rhine Romanticism: Rhine Gorge (Mittelrhein). And from one of the most talented winemakers there: Florian Weingart. 

Schwarzwalder Kirsch.  Now you see it...

Now you almost missed it!

Overall I would highly recommend a visit to any of the supper clubs of the above should you find yourself in Germany.  The food was great and the atmosphere upbeat and casual with some great conversations.  I really enjoyed chatting to and meeting all the chefs, as well as the Supperclub Summit organiser - you guys did an awesome job and look forward to the summit in 2013?

Stars out of 5?    Five - even with horse on the menu!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I Am Back!!

Hey guys,

I have finally finished my degree and found out that I passed with a first class honors degree!!  So excited and now I am free to continue on the culinary exploits of London!  I started with a SupperClub Summit event last week!  I was sure to take lots of photos and also have all the links to the chefs blogs/twitter and so its a post worth waiting for - trust me!.  The food was amazing and presented in exactly the same way as everybody else's (as they had to cater for my nut, seed and cress allergy).  I will be putting the post up in a while.   I am taking my nephew out for a meal tonight and hopefully it will e worth a write up....

See you on the site in a few days!  I am back!!  :-)

Friday, 11 May 2012

I Am Back - almost!!

Hi guys,

I am sorry for seeming to have disappeared off the earth!  I had a load of work to get in and finish for my fin al year dissertation so my time has been rather taken over woth citing quotations, referencing and completing a research project of my own!  I am determined to get it read by people who have an influence in educational circles so watch this space...

Apart from that I have done a few exciting thinkgs that I will write about on return...  These include:
- 2 nights in the kitchen at ferdiesfoodlab and one as a returning guest.  I think I am going to spend one of those posts elaborating a little on why I tend to go there oftten (and YES - it is defeinitely about quality of food, company and atmosphere!)
- a Lebanese inspired mezze 'feed up' that i was responsible for in April.
- a visit to Jerusalem bar and kitchen in Soho.  Wicked cocktails!!
- a post on a recent experiment = vine tomato, chive and black pepper scones.

Watch this space because I am back (almost) with a vengeance and a desire to report on the good, not so good and unusual culinary experiences!  I will also be hoping to somehow pick up a new camera  and hope to shower you with a plethora of beautiful (maybe) food!

I can't wait!  I could write more but I am about to be chucked out of the university library - eeek!

Take care peeps and watch this space!


Friday, 24 February 2012

The perfect oatmeal cookie?

Just checking in.  I have been focusing on finishing a research project and have got my first 2000 words out of the way - a quarter of the way there.   I worked hard o it last week and I found a great cookie recipe online after an evening spent helping in the kitchen at ferdiesfoodlab (my reward for getting stuff done!).  I will definitely be posting about my kitchen experience(s) so watch this space!  It was my first foray into a professional kitchen and I.... (you'll have to check in later to read the post!).  

I can tell you that I had the task of making the cookies (one of several tasks) and this got me thinking about what type of cookie would be best.  The ones I made were great (well - I thought so) but Why have bread when you can have a schadenfreude ?  I made the dough this evening and it will chill overnight and so I am looking forward to seeing what the results produce...  More on this tomorrow.  Exhausted!

Monday, 13 February 2012

My first supper club...

Just over three months ago, I finally made it to a supper club.  Supper clubs are usually by word of mouth and the idea is that you are served incredible food that you would pay up to 2/3 times as much if you were to have it in a restaurant.  I was away when ferdiesfoodlab launched in August but on my return to London (and prompted by an email or two) I thought back to a train journey in March/April and made my highly recommended visit to ferdiesfoodlab.  The experience in under 5 words - it did NOT disappoint...

Having done some research on supper clubs (and also read reviews on Simon Fernandez - founder and chef of ferdiesfoodlab - and on his food) I decided this was the right one for me to visit.  I expected an intimate evening with few diners eating out in a living room...  Following the directions that were emailed to me I made my way to Toynbee Hall.  On entering the hall I walked into a room with up to 30 people in it - the high ceilings and wood panels worthy of a listed building - it was really pretty and also a little intimidating for a first time supper clubber whose friend was running late!  I really had nothing to worry about... within minutes I was chatting to a really outgoing and friendly guest and became acquainted over a complimentary glass of wine.  I was so engrossed I missed 2 calls from my friend who was a little lost.  A great start!

We entered the main hall where 2 long tables were set up and it looked exciting!  There was a seating plan and we all found our seats.  I had ordered wine to be delivered on the evening (details sent out once confirmed) so that was chilled and ready on arrival!  Always nice not to have to carry a bottle from work/home and to be able to buy some really decent bottles of wine and bring them along.   A genuine perk as there is no corkage charge.

The first dish out was a sweet potato tortilla with rosemary bread!

I don't think that the image does it enough justice - it was delectable.  I can't remember what the sauce was but I loved it (my fault for waiting this long to write about it - sorry Simon).  I remember it being really tangy and the flavours just totally burst out of it!  It was an ice-breaking dish if ever there was one (not that one was needed)!  It really got us talking and there was an increase in the air of expectancy in the room.  I was also rather pleased to be able to share some of the last extra slice!

The next course was bacon swirls with invisible tomato juice!  the bacon swirls quickly leapt to the top 3 of my favourite pastries.  Again - filled with flavour whilst the invisible tomato juice filled my mouth and tickled my tastebuds... a definite "must have again!"

The next course was my favourite and I hope to revisit ferdiesfoodlab again in the hope that it will reappear on the menu - pork belly with pear preserve pureed gourds with preserved lemon apples!  Feed me that and I am "almost" all yours.  Simon - are you available?  ;-)

The pork was succulent, the crackling crisp and the pureed gourds were a sweet, sticky accompaniment - perfect!  It is clear that Simon is an incredibly talented chef who has a magical way with flavours and a special touch with the food(s) that he makes!

Dish number 4 was millionaires cheesecake with orange puree and orange sauce.  I love dessert and this reminded me why.  I did feel that the cheesecake had been chilled a little long and was between the texture of ice cream and a traditional non-bake cheesecake but it tasted great.  The cheeseboard that followed had 3 great cheeses - Danish blue, Port Salut and Brie (in my opinion) but I wasn't too bothered about the Wensleydale with cranberries.

To top off the night was a selection of petit fours - black olive ganache and salted lemon fudge and limoncello.  I liked thehte lemon one but found the black olive too rich for my tastes.

At the end of the night I felt as stuffed as a turkey on Christmas day and I'd met some great people and made friends.  The 'banquet' style setup is great for conversation and encourages chatting and getting to know other people who share a respect of and love for good food.  I had a great time and ate more than I thought I could put away.

I would highly recommend a visit to ferdiesfoodlab.  You can book a place or check it out here!  If you are up for some good food and great company, or just want to treat yourself (or anyone else) to great food I would recommend it.  Remember - it isn't a restaurant so you have to just let the evening unfold as it does, knowing that you will have plenty of time to get your last train home.  Would I go again - I did (watch this space) and I will be again in a few days time!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


It's great to have a 'room with a view' and get to see London like this:

Something I threw together earlier...

This is a quick little indulgent post.  I really enjoyed baking on Sunday and this is what I made.  I made marshmallows from the David Lebovitz site here.  They are a lot easier to make than I imagined.  There is also the added bonus of knowing what's really in them !!  Here is the finished product:  I was clearly going for the 'rustic' look.

I also made some vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook...

And the 'piece de resistance' - my creme brulee.  I followed the recipe online here but chose to go with the hot caramel poured onto the chilled custard for my topping.

Glossy, hard caramel.  It should have good 'crackability' - the sign of a good brulee!

The first 'crack'.  Phwoar!

The first mouthful...

Lovely firm custard (could have had 2-3 minutes less in the oven in fairness) and crunchy sugar topping.  Mmmm.

Well - that's it really.  Next time - someone else's food combinations and / or my experiences of flavour.  Watch this space.