Last night I attended another Supper Club. I am beginning to get a little obsessed with these types of dining experiences. Not so long ago I went to an authentic home-made Italian food supper club in Manchester and before that another pop-up supper club featuring some amazing Malaysian home-cooking which was also a really special experience. My taste buds concurred.
I find that Supper Clubs are so much more of a food adventure. Everybody eats the same menu and it’s great to meet new, like-minded people and have a good old chat over some really delicious scran. Last night was no exception.
Last night’s event was arranged by Inca Pop Ups (run by Claire Kerkham) who specialise in sourcing, organising and hosting such food events, usually in unassuming but very cool settings which Claire hunts down and hand-picks herself.
The Setting and Host Chef
Last night’s event was at the Yard, Alderley Edge. A really beautiful café, shop and event space that focus on ethical, healthy products and delicious, wholesome foods in their ‘conscious kitchen’ café. Tucked away behind the main high street in this glamorous, Cheshire village, it’s the perfect spot to host an event of this size with it’s large, open kitchen and rustic dining area.
The real star of the show last night was no less than Robert Owen-Brown, ex-head Chef of the famous Mark Addy pub and now seasoned pop-up chef, this man really knows how to cook ‘real’ food. He prides himself on using only the finest quality, locally sourced ingredients and transforms them into hearty, classic dishes that really do blow you away with their simplicity and earthiness. He foraged the wild mushrooms from the beef dish himself from Delamere Forest, and the partridge in the game terrine was sourced just up the road (not far from Dunham Massey). It was fantastic to eat truly local food, cooked by a local chef in a wonderful local setting just 10 minutes away from my house. <3
We were greeted by the Inca Pop Ups team with a glass of Prosecco and Kombucha with a blackberry which was delightful. We were seated on a large, rustic, wooden table right next to the kitchen where we could see chef hard at work, but still managing to look collected and relaxed. I was with Jo Cooksey from Taste Today, and after acquainting ourselves with the lovely guests on our table (Lucy Hope, aka The Chanteuse and the professional photographer for the evening Simon Brown, aka Travelling Simon) we were ready to eat.
Before we were served, chef said a few words, talking us through his menu choices and why he uses seasonal produce. He also mentioned there might be some butter present in each dish (to keep things healthy) and he might have admitted to eating fish food as a child, a very humble man with a great sense of humour indeed!
Robert also mentioned his new cookbook ‘Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle’ which a few of us bought, and he signed. It was great to hear from him before the feast commenced.
The first course; Hand dived scallop with celeriac and coral cream (and razor clams).
This dish tasted as good as it looked. The delicate orange coloured sauce was perfectly seasoned, and made from the roe of the scallops (the best bit!) which Robert pointed out many restaurants discard. It was great to taste a complete dish that resourcefully uses the whole product with very little wastage. The celeriac also delicious, crunchy and firm.
The next dish was a real contrast; Classic game terrine with hedgerow berry chutney.
Succulent, juicy bits of top-quality game snuggly moulded together with the welcomed edition of black pudding which really gave this terrine a lovely other dimension. The seasonal berry chutney was only slightly sweet, which complimented the savouriness of the meat so well.
It was at this point one of the other guests at our table, Margaret, showed us her beautiful bottle of Rioja, which she kindly let us try. The Yard serves alcohol, so you were welcome to buy a bottle from their selection (they also had chilled beers) or pay just £2 corkage to take your own, which is what Margaret did. One of the nicest red wines I’ve had the pleasure to taste. Thank you, Margaret!
After a short rest (and a look around The Yard’s beautiful shop, images below) we were ready for the main course; Lightly smoked fillet of beef, wild mushrooms and good king henry.
The beef was outstanding. It was so tender, seasoned to perfection and melted in your mouth. The gravy was packed full of rich flavour, but still light. The potato fondant was delicate but substantial and the wild mushrooms were earthy and added great texture. The ‘good king henry’ is an edible plant, chef likened it to a mixture between spinach and kale and it really was delicious, as were the sweet, mini, sculpted carrots. A hearty portion size too – an outstanding main course and again, empty plates all round.
On to dessert; Dark chocolate and wild honey ‘Cambridge cream’, orange fudge and vanilla froth.
This is honestly one of the nicest chocolate desserts I have eaten. Cambridge cream is the English crème brûlée. Here, Robert made a dark chocolate and honey version which was somehow light and not at all sickly. The hint of orange flavour from the orange fudge was beautiful and the vanilla froth really topped it off nicely, the presentation looking like a freshly poured Cappuccino. The home-made flapjack on the side was divinely buttery (as expected) and just melted in your mouth. Both flavours and presentation, this pudding was very clever indeed, and not at all pretentious. I loved it.
Last but not least, the final course; Cave aged goats cheese & Camembert with thyme waffle
As a lover of all things savoury (and cheese, of course) I was delighted to see this as the final dish of the evening. The thyme waffles were an absolute delight, slightly sweet but a fantastic contrast to the savoury sharpness of the aged goats cheese. A wonderful, creative take on the classic (and now seemingly boring!) ‘cheese and biscuits’. Hats off to the chef.
The Tea Alchemist
To round things off, we got the choice of one of the wonderful Alchemist Tea’s. Each came served in a teapot, teacup and saucer that complimented the nature of the tea. I went for the Dragon Well tea; which came served in this wonderful cast-iron teapot and oriental iron cup. The taste was delicate and refreshing, and it really worked well to cleanse the palette after such a wonderful meal.
Overall this was an absolutely delightful evening of food, drink and great company in a wonderful setting. It was the ultimate celebration of local produce and down-to-earth, hearty, good food that doesn’t hide behind fancy names. Excellently cooked, seasonal ingredients from our wonderful Cheshire surroundings.
I look forward to attending future events hosted by Inca Pops, you can do so by keeping a close eye on their Facebook page. Many thanks to Claire, Robert and the team for hosting such an outstanding event.
A few other images of the Yard and event can be found below;