Supper Club & Secret Dining

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Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th & Friday 17th July: The Great American Chow Down at The House of Vans

We are also available to provide a unique catering experience for your private parties

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My thoughts after last Saturday

I thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday, i really did. The menu was planned out and ready to go, just a few tweeks here and there as the day went on but it was so much fun!!

I'll paint a very quick picture..... normally its held in a chapel which is dark, moody, decadent and a beautiful old building. But its not my home. Last Saturday's event was held at my home, and it was such a pleasure to welcome people in and look after them.

I started life managing restaurants and then slid nicely into the kitchen where I belong, but miss that interaction with the guest. Whilst in Melbourne I helped set up an amazing cafe (the Bell Jar, 656 Smith St, check it) where the kitchen was completely open and I was able to say hello as people came in, take orders, cook food, and make the occasional coffee, all from my lil' kitchen. Frickin loved it!! So to be able to cook for people in my home, crack jokes, give hugs and pour mulled wine, all from my lil' kitchen again was awesome! Will definitely continue this way!!

This is the menu from Saturday for those who missed it:

Mulled Wine- all the ususal suspects plus loads of cardamon from Kerala

Oysters three ways; French shallot vinaigrette (we did one with white wine vinegar and one with balsamic), Thai dressing and salad, Smokey Mexican Chilli (cos we found some and it tasted good!)

Oyster shucker nowhere to be seen, flat head screw driver had to do!!

Confit salmon, dill and lime cream and my multi grain Clapton sourdough which i might add I am really pleased with and continue to feed the mutha!!!

Jerk prawns and scallops, Carribean mojo- this was boom, finger lickin stuff, I licked out a shell!!

Mutton loin, beetroot puree, mushrooms, radish, herbs- the mutton from Nathan was a delight to cook and eat; rich, tender and melting, served on the rarer side of medium rare, with a forest floor of earthy veg and citrus, served the loin sliced and the bone to gnaw on

XO pork belly with Bombay roast potatoes, bok choy with garlic and ginger- man that XO was banging! My friend and co chef for the night Greg nurtured this little bad boy, still got loads in my fridge, in fact gonna eat a spoonful very soon. The crackling I should mention was shown a lot of care over the preceeding 24 hours and definitely lived up to expectations

Fennel palette cleanser with yellow snow- which turned out to be more of a yellow puddle (infused with lemon thyme, but still a puddle, bloody domestic freezers!!)  so whipped up some passionfruit into some cream which tasted sweet and probably took the dish away from being a palate cleanser but hey, people wanted to eat yellow snow!!

Chestnut figgy pudding with kulfi ice cream- an old Jamaican tradition, the recipe recently taught to me by my mate Oseba (yea!) chestnuts & dried fruit soaked in booze, then put through a basic cake batter with a few adjustments. Served it up with a bit of kulfi which i was lovingly stirring on friday night til the wee small hours, fortunately I could reach my Guiness so all was not lost! We lit brandy and poured it over the cake, proper Brit xmas pudd style!!

Beetroot, white choc and lime ganache, served with popping candy, which was followed by bags of candy being handed out and people doing whole bags in one!! I'm not saying I started this, but, well, i did, bad example to the guests!!

Last but not least I pulled out a Tamarind Margharita because the guests demanded it!!!

Smiles all around, many thanks to all my friends old and new who came

Monday, November 26, 2012

Next Candle Stick Maker Event!! Saturday 8th December 

I love it when a plan comes together. Words immortalised in my childhood by cigar totting, plan forming Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith. Words so true then as they are today. And when it does happen and that spark sparkles and you get all excited and ideas flow and you just cant write/draw things down quick enough, that's when you know its a good plan, one Hannibal would be proud of, one with no planes B.A. I promise.

So, Christmas is coming; everyones already cursing the music, the wrapping paper, the onslaught of perfume adverts, the juggling of families..... "Its still F*in November!" I hear people cry in shops, well actually thats in my head but I have a good imagination and know i'm not alone. 

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say, plus, I secretly love Christmas as I'm a big kid and it always means copious amounts of food, friends and family, boom!! Hence why I decided on the following theme for our next event: 

A Proper Londoners Festive Feast: cultures from across London collide in a festive, debauched, indulgent tirade of tantalising titbits, tastes and troubadours. Knees up mother Brown indeed!

The plan is to celebrate the multi cultural flavour elements of life in London, part of what makes the capital such an awesome place to live. The menu is still being finalised and will be released next week, but expect the usual unexpectedness. Think flavour, think festive, think how awesome the food scene in London is, think how much fun you'll have, in fact don't think, just get booked in

For those who have never been before or need a refresher, all the usual supper club ideals apply, such as bring your own beverages, don't cancel last minute, tell your friends, know that it's not a restaurant, know that it's more than that, suggested donation of 35 pounds stirling, Any dietary requirements or dislikes please let me know and check with your guests too. 

Awesome, kindest regards as always


ps. below are just some shots from a brilliant Xmas spent in OZ not so long ago, made me smile

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Memories of Taste.... the aftermouth

With the invitation was also a questionnaire, sent to engage, excite and entice the reader/potential eater into remembering, revisiting and reminiscing about their memories of taste. And so they did. Which was a massive relief for me as the responses were what the menu was to be created around!

Ribena was there, potato waffles made a few appearances (which lead to numerous experiments the main conclusions of which were: 1) its the crunch that creates the potato waffle experience, 2) that crunch does not belong in an ice cream- its just a bit weird) Chicken kievs, choc concrete, marshmallows, some interesting Jewish meals (which unfortunately were a tad too late but have inspired a future dining experience) crumble and strawberry yoghurt, to name but a few.

So I set to work and created the menus (see below kids one side, adults on the other) and had lots of fun. I think the diners did too. Lots of positive feedback, awesome.

Tomato consomme, served warm and thickened
Experiments with waffles
Kids menu

The calm before the storm, the room is set, where are the guests?!
Boozy 'Bena cocktail to start

Peeps getting stuck in 
On own with no heat lamps, 4 at a time please!!

Birdseye potato waffles, fairly versatile...

Orange jelly boats with edible sails and lemon sherbet sorbet

Fosse Meadow Chicken Kievs

Frosties Panacotta, frozen yoghurt, warm berries
Macerated rhubarb, poached pears, crumble, custard

Rum marshmallows, spiced hot choc, sparklers 

Fire warden at the ready......
Christmas time fun to follow......

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NEXT DINING EVENT: Saturday 10th November, yes that is this coming Saturday!!!

The theme is Memories of Taste.....

The menu is just about complete, this is how it stands at the mo:

-Soup & cheese toastie
-Potato Waffles, they go with......
-Jelly & ice
-Chicken Kiev
-Bonfire bites

Please remember that things are never quite what they seem and this menu is designed to intrigue. To find out more you will have to attend.

Interested? Get in touch, tell me your thoughts and get booked in.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Memories of Taste, Saturday 10th November 2012

The next Candlestick Maker event needs YOU!!!!

Every so often i'll smell something or taste something that instantly grabs me and transports to some distant memory or sensation that I can't place and then suddenly it hits you.... "rhubarb and custard sweets!" or "me Mam's Yorkshires" or "urgh that potato is like the stuff they served at school with an ice cream scoop which they thought a decrepit sprig of curly parsley would make it taste better!?"

I want to try to recreate some of these memories, the good ones of course and thats where you come in.

I want to hear about your food memories. What flavours make you smile because they make you feel like a kid? What was your favourite meal your Mum (or Dad) made you? School, sweetshop, anywhere, anything. I've got my food memories which, I might add, were lots of fun recalling. Give it a go! Think about what foods sum up your childhood, good or bad, and please let me know!

The plan is to create a menu based around your responses with the hope, perhaps rather optimistically, of helping create some of those out of body, Anton Ego childhood flashbacks in Ratatouille style, memorable experiences. And there'll be cocktails on arrival too, sweet.

Interested? Get in touch, tell me your thoughts and get booked in.

For those who have never been before or need a refresher, all the usual supper club ideals apply, such as bring your own beverages, don't cancel

last minute, tell your friends, know that it's not a restaurant, know that it's more than that, suggested donation of 35 pounds stirling. Any dietary

requirements or dislikes please let me know and check with your guests too.

Kindest regards as always 

Inline images 1 <This could be you!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NEXT EVENT: Friday the 7th September we're holding a supper club in the Round House Chapel in Clapton to showcase the end of the Summer's produce and welcome in the Autumnal harvest with my favourite styles of cooking; big flavas, interesting cuts of meat, homemade breads, experimental desserts and of course a few little surprises along the way!

Asian Banquet 18th August

Sawardee Kap!!

I'm very behind on this ol blogging malarky and it seems this format is a bit out of whack so sincerest apologies for the appalling layout of this one! To be improved. Its a very quick one, thought best to get fingers to keys and include a few shots of the amazing Asian banquet we hosted in August.

We started off with a Thai inspired mojito which was filled with mint, lime, ginger, palm sugar, chilli and lemongrass, and of course rum! This packed a punch and the guests seemed pretty happy about it too!

We followed with various mouth watering courses; betel leaves with prawns, seabream parcels, Cambodian stlye pork shoulder. Favourites were definitely the beef ribs which we had marinated for 24hours then braised in coconut water and an array of spices and aromatics until they were falling off the bone, served with Nahm Jim, boom!

The Lychee jelly with mango sorbet was a hit too,  simple to make but difficult to source decent fresh lychees and rambuhtans in this colder climate. Went for a mixture of 'fresh' and tinned to bring the flavour out, set with agar agar. The mango sorbet was very fresh though, i liked. Others did too.
The days leading up to the event were lots of fun too, cycling all over London following leads and snippets I'd hear about the best Asian supermarkets in town. Often there would be bags attached to my bag flailling around, much like the motorbike drivers with their entire family strapped on throughout Asia! I found a fairly decent one just off into Knightsbridge where they make there own sauces and pastes to sell. I wish i'd brought a load but had no room in my bag! Longdans in Hackney is pretty sweet, still on the hunt for "the one."

Despite a few last minute cancellations, this was still one of my most enjoyable events yet as I had my brilliant friend Greg with my in the kitchen who is a fantastic chef and inspiration, and also the smaller group meant it was much more intimate and I was able to speak to all the guests afterwards as well! Brilliant!

If you want to know more about any of the dishes or future events, please get in touch, if you've got this far then I reckon you can figure out the rest


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Basque Tasting

Taste of Basque

After spending 6 days in and around San Sebastian and the neighbouring area, it is very clear that a lot of people in the Basque region really care about their food. Some obviously obsess about it. We decided we should live here soon after arriving.

Lesson learnt about Basque cooking: Quality of ingredients really is paramount! Such a simple and obvious approach to food but often over quoted and under adhered to. This, matched with thoughtful cooking and well executed flavour combinations is the basis of good food. Add some love and your onto a winner. There was certainly an abundance of this in San Sebastian.

Our first day involved a Pinxto tour around the old town with a brilliant guide called Lourdes. She took us to 6 (or 7) different bars, each with its own speciality dish & drink to accompany that clearly the tourists wouldn't know to order from the Euskara & Spanish menus. We started with prawns with a delightful sweet and sour relish of peppers, tomato, onion and garlic. An enlivening opener that was executed perfectly, the balance of flavours was spot on and the local Txatkali wine was light and aerated thanks to its pouring from a height, a style that continued from bar to bar. We also had a plate of pardon peppers and chillies, fried in olive oil with flakes of sea salt, simple, fresh and occasionally fiery! 

I could very easily list every dish, bar and drink and talk about them animatedly on length but will resist and simply mention a few highlights: Pigs ear, braised and crisped on a bed of pumpkin puree. Textually this was awesome with the skin, fat and cartilage all playing a part and the sweetness of the pumpkin cutting straight down the middle of the all the rich pig eared goodness.  Patatas bravas, a dish often reproduced on these shores, was served very simple with warm mayonnaise and a light tomato and pepper sauce, very different to all previous attempts I'd tasted but a clear winner. This was matched with some delicious mussels with pepper sauce, fresh calamari and local cider with random heavy metal music playing in what would appear to the untrained eye to be a basic fish n chip shop. The locals knew and we soon realised it was anything but.

Slivers of beef with Ribera Del Duera, slow braised pork rib, Ox cheek in wine, Orso with Idiazabel, a local cheese, and then twice baked cheesecakes which were a delightful way to finish off the tour, served with a glass of Pedro Ximenez. I was literally aching for more of both but felt slightly glutinous in front of the rest of the group, damn my British politeness!

The tour was awesome, a great introduction to Basque food and culture. I loved the way that in every bar we went in we had food and drink. The two have gone hand in hand for ever for good reason. Could we Brits ever really embrace this at home though? There has been a resurgence of bar snacks such as pork pies and sausage rolls.... you never know! Many thanks to Lourdes and Eli from San Sebastian Food, both of you are amazing and lovely people Es horresa gatik!

Below are a selection of photos from some of the amazing places we went to, notably an amazing fish restaurant in San Juan, a small island near San Sebastian, and Zuberoa, a michelin starred restaurant out near the national forest. Here we ate some amazing fish, definitely a favourite in this coastal region, with textures, flavours, ingredients and visuals that made us smile widely. A favourite was definitely the spider crab with sea urchin and fennel foam. Or the scallop with endive and marmalade. Or the hake, or the.....

We left the Basque region after a day spent in the David Hockney exhibition in Bilbao (amazing) and headed home, full of ideas and inspiration for the Taste of Basque banquet we had planned for the end of June. This is the next dining experience we have planned so I have suspicions that it is gonna be tasty. If you have any questions about any of the places we went, or food we ate please just ask as I have notebooks full of pages of my scrawl with some rather dodgy sketches of dishes!


ps. If you are interested in attending the Taste of Basque banquet please get in touch soon as the places are limited.