July’s popup supperclub event was purely English in inspiration – after all, this is the time of year where we don’t need to fantasise we’re anywhere else! But it’d be dull if I’d done it without a twist, and the dishes I chose had South East Asian riffs on the traditional Blighty fare.
The first Saturday of the month, the weather was warm and we’d had a blazing week (as, of course, we’ve had since), but sod’s law dictated that Saturday evening’s forecast looked decidedly turbulent, and reluctantly I left the dinner table inside – though cocktails were served outside, amid jasmine, honeysuckle, and a lot of very flourishing mint, Russian vine and other weeds I like to think form a herbaceous border… my table settings are elaborate mise-en-scenes, involving vintage glasses, tealights and a vast amount of cutlery. Not something to move quickly inside when there’s a sudden cloudburst!
Twelve guests arrived to drink chilled prosecco with hibiscus blossoms glowing at the bottom of the flute glasses, bubbles clinging to their petals. Twelve is about my limit around my dining table in my house in Wolvercote – and it’s a squash and a squeeze!
Dinner started with a really lovely first course – beef carpaccio with griddled asparagus and sesame sauce. I LOVE carpaccio – the rarest of beef fillets, seared on the utter outside edge and then (clever trick this) frozen and shaved into thin, translucent slivers while it is still only semi-thawed. With asparagus and this sauce which has South East Asian flavours of nuts, mirin and sake, it’s mega.
Intermezzo with spiced sweet potato and leek vichyssoise – not as fusion as it sounds; it’s a classic French soup with orange sweet potatoes substituted for plain old white ones. With sweet potato crisps and chives on the top and served in very small portions (as it’s heavy with cream), this is a good refreshing in-between course before the main course.
For the second popup running I did a fish main course – it’s summer, innit, and this feels right. This was a retro blast from the Nineties – wild salmon with champagne sauce, and tomato, ginger and basil salsa. I’ve pictured it at the top of this post, but here’s another peek:
And to finish – well, there’s always one dish which makes me wonder why I didn’t just cook five times the amount and not bother with all the others. This was it for July! Three Pimm’s desserts: summer pudding, syllabub and sorbet.
Most of a one litre bottle of Pimm’s was sunk into this dessert at my popup! As someone who drank too much of the stuff as a student, got into all sorts of scrapes, and hates the memories of the horrendous hangovers it imparts, I’m hard to convince about the stuff. But if you make it into dessert, well, it’s on a whole new lease of life here in my house. The sorbet in particular, which involves strawberries, cucumber, mint and Pimm’s, is really worth making.
I’m currently taking a summer break from Wolvercote Supper Club’s monthly popup restaurant – in August so many people are out of town, and it feels like time for some r’n’r. I’m still reading recipes, however, for planning purposes, having posted September and October’s dates already!