Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Food Urchin Supper Club

Now originally the title of this post was going to be called 'Tinkering with Teppanyaki' but then I got all worried that it might be misleading so I changed it. And whilst it pains me that to say that I haven't gone all Benihana on yo' asses, I am pleased to announce that I shall be making a foray into the illicit world of pop-up, hip-hop, don't stop till ya drop, overground, underground, wombling free, paladare, if you dare, secretive restaurants as sponsored by Pataks and soon to be shown on Channel 4.

Yes I am talking about supper clubs and yes I am being deliberately churlish.*

I have been thinking about running a supper club for some time now having visited one or two (and also having helped out at this one) but have continually shelved any notion of actually going ahead with it citing both logistical and lethargical reasons. Funnily enough I have also cited exactly the same reasons for not going running and getting fit so far this year. But after feeding some actors back in December, the guys who run the Brentwood Theatre planted a seed in my brain with the offer of the use of their studio for a supper club evening. So I returned, you know to talk the idea through some more and left, rather unexpectedly with two dates in the calendar and a proposition to cater for their awards ceremony, The Brents. Well let's not run before we can walk eh chaps but I was pleased to finally get the ball rolling.

Since then the biggest hurdle has been trying to work out exactly what to cook as the catering facilities at the theatre are pretty much non existent and for a while it looked like I was going to have to build a kitchen from scratch in true pop-up Pierre Koffman style. Of course these delusions of grandeur soon faded when I factored in hire costs, health and safety and my own personal ability. Yeah I'd say that I was just a few steps behind Mr Koffman. A far simpler approach was necessary and so for the past couple of weeks I have been tinkering around with borrowed portable hot plates, induction hobs and yes microwaves. All very much in a punk ethic kinda way. And after much experimentation and much burning of January Kings on teppanyaki plates (you can't really sauté vegetables directly on a hot plate, well at least I can't) I think I've cracked it. So, without further ado, the very first Food Urchin supper club will be on Friday 25th February, held obviously at the Brentwood Theatre and the menu shall be (drum roll please):

- Parsnip soup with herbed croutons and bacon lardons

- Ox Cheek braised in Chocwork Orange Dark Ale (Brentwood Brewery), topped with Gremolata and served with Pomme Purée and Steamed Purple Sprouting Broccoli

- Mick's Tunisian Citrus Cake with Vanilla Crème Fraiche

(plus homemade sourdough bread, nibbles and other little extras)

To my mind this event is to be the precursor or the fanfare (or the lit sparkler) announcing the start of a regular, monthly supper club at Food Urchin Mansions in deepest, darkest Essex. I've already got an idea to run an evening in the summer based upon a 'buried' theme which I am sure you can hazard a guess at but at first, little steps, little steps.

I shall run a couple more updates before the big night with better pictures of the food but wish me luck anway.

If you are interested in coming along to the very first Food Urchin Supper Club then please contact me at or leave a comment with your email.

Suggested donation will be £20 a head (vegetarian options available on request) and alcohol and soft drinks will be available to buy from the theatre at a discounted rate.

All hi-tech mod cons will be used

But we shall not be 'sautéing' vegetables. Or juggling utensils. Or throwing eggs up in the air and catching them in our pockets.

We shall be using this beer

And we shall be reducing sauces

And you'll be getting something similar to this beautiful melt in the mouth, albeit obscured, ox cheek (sans cabbage)

*No sooner do I decide to announce my intentions to run a supper club when I discover that a certain Mr Ramsden, food writer and proprietor of the very excellent Secret Larder (been there too see) will be giving a talk on the future of the supper club at the forthcoming Mixed Grill. By the sounds of it he shall be exploring issues surrounding 'the most exciting food phenomenon of the last few years', asserting that 'the territory is getting crowded, audiences are getting blase and now professionals and big companies are muscling in.' Thought provoking stuff and I for one shall be interested in what he has to say, sitting in contemplative repose with one hand clutching my chin. The other hand clutching a rotten tomato. You know just in case James pisses on my chips.

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