The concept of the supper club has been relatively slow to catch on outside London. Could that partly be due to its fancy-pants name? Northerners are already divided on the issue of whether ‘dinner’ happens in the afternoon or evening. Another burning issue concerns ‘tea’, is it a meal or a drink? So, ‘supper’? When’s that supposed to occur? Unless it’s preceded by the word ‘fish’, we reckon most fellow Northerners think that it’s some kind of meal posh people quaff by candlelight.
Anyway, for want of a better moniker, the supperclub movement has now slowly and successfully worked its way across Manchester with a smattering of excellent regular monthly gastronomic events. In its purest sense, competent cooks or ‘resting’ chefs open up their homes and cook a fixed menu for like-minded paying guests in a less formal environment than a standard restaurant setting.
Our first North Star supper club happened in July and has steadily been gaining in popularity each month. Original deli founder and Chef Deanna Thomas now spends her time being a full time mother and food writer, but our supper club gives her the chance to flex her culinary muscles and try out exciting new recipes she’s written or local produce she’s discovered. We get the chance to show off and offer dishes and a style of cooking beyond our usual daytime menu.
Just before Christmas we got a call from our friends who look after publicity for Chilean winemakers Casillero del Diablo. They were looking for regional supper clubs out of London to host a food and wine matching dinner for local press and food bloggers. We’re happy to rise to a challenge so immediately said yes, but what on earth are you supposed to cook for people who dine out all the time and write about food for a living?
As always, we let the seasons inspire our menu and this time we thought it would be a good idea to use some of the lovely Chilean wines our guests would taste that evening in the actual dishes themselves. Diablo asked us to provide canapés to match their sparkling Chardonnay Brut so Deanna looked to South America for inspiration and began with rabbit empanadas. Slow cooked rabbit confit shredded with apples, fried onions and walnuts, wrapped in a wonton skin and deep fried until crispy.
The other canapé was a savoury twist on the much loved North Star macaron – and a successful experiment. Poppy seed macarons with smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese filling.
Our first course was fresh king scallops from local Chorlton fishmonger ‘Out of the Blue’ on a bed of Puy lentils with a mildly spiced, creamy Chardonnay sauce. Diablo had sent wine expert Hans Joachim Wadsack (Joe to his friends) along to introduce each of the wines he’d chosen to match the food. To match the scallop dish, our guests got to try both Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc and Limari Chardonnay – the same one we’d used in the buttery sauce.
We decided on venison for the main course and our reliable local butcher Lee Frost brought a haunch of Yorkshire red deer over and showed Deanna how to separate the cuts with surgical precision and a bloody sharp knife.
Each piece was marinated overnight in a mixture of cabernet sauvignon, orange zest, juniper seeds and thyme before being flash seared, roasted and rested. We served it with a red wine sauce, sautéed Savoy cabbage, crispy Paysanne potatoes and a Hunter’s pie (Deanna’s invention using minced venison with a celeriac and potato topping.) Joe chose to accompany this with a Shiraz and the lesser known Carmenere which thrives in the Chilean climate.
Deanna also came out to speak to guests and introduce each course. Just before dessert, she introduced her co-pilot chef Ben, who, along with Joby and SJ are representing North Star in the new foodie panel show ‘A Question of Taste’ showing on Monday 23rd January.
Again, in keeping with the current time of year, pudding was a blood orange curd tart with orange caramel, blood orange segments, whipped cream and a brandy snap.
A sweet and tart dish to perfectly match Diablo’s new Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc which is so absolutely brand spanking new, we were beside ourselves with excitement having been chosen for its inaugural appearance.
All in all, it was a fun and successful night. Manchester’s finest bloggers, food writers, journalists, mover and shakers all got together for a night of relaxed fine dining and drinking. Click here to hear a short interview featuring Chef Deanna and wine expert Joe discussing the event on BBC Radio Manchester’s Gourmet night with Matt White.
Casillero del Diablo run a regular recipe competition on their blog and the chance to win some excellent prizes.
Our next event is going be a collaboration with the team from ‘A Question of Taste’ and will be on Feb 23rd. Call North Star Delicatessen on 0161 862 0133 to book, follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ our Facebook page for upcoming menu details. We hope to see you at one of our supperclubs soon.