Monday, November 2, 2015
Dining With a Food-Styling, Cookbook-Writing, MasterChef Contestant: Rukmini Iyer's "Pomegranate" Supper Club
On Saturday, my friend Rukmini Iyer held a supper club in her London flat and it was amazing. It was like being at a dinner party, except that we didn't know anyone else in the room (which made for some great table conversation) and the hostess was also a professional food stylist and MasterChef contestant!
I've always been a little reticent about attending supper clubs, where a group of people (who usually don't know each other) meet at the home of or a space rented by a chef who cooks a multi-course meal for the evening. Despite being a blogger, I'm pretty awkward and antisocial. I inwardly cringe every time I have to introduce myself to someone new and I'm awful at making small talk. Typically, supper club menus have a theme (in Mini's case, it was the beguiling and exotic pomegranate) and the idea is that a group of strangers can sit, eat, and relax in an informal setting whilst enjoying food that's been prepared by an expert chef.
Mini's menu was nothing short of impressive: after graciously greeting her guests, encouraging us to admire the view of the O2 arena from her balcony, and handing us a delicious cocktail to enjoy, she coolly disappeared into her kitchen with her assistant (and partner!) Ken to whip up the first of five courses. Five. I'd set fire to my house, if not my hair, if I attempted that!
Here were some of the highlights:
After licking our fingers from a delicious appetizer of harissa prawn lollipops with a pink peppercorn and yoghurt dip plus warm flatbread filled with minced spiced lamb, we were treated to this beautiful salad of romanesco broccoli, woodchip-smoked cauliflower with tender cous cous and pomegranate seeds. The lovely, intense flavor from the smoked cauliflower worked beautifully well with the little sweet bursts of pomegranate seeds and for once, the cous cous was almost like a garnish for the salad, rather than the main event.
Since it was Halloween on the eve of our visit (we passed a super-spooky boarded up pub on our way to Mini's and a deep fog had set in!), the menu included a roasted mini pumpkin with a melted sage and goat's cheese centre - so adorable and so delicious! The pumpkin had the wonderful, creamy consistency of roasted chestnuts. Although I couldn't finish all of mine (it was very rich), dipping my fork into the melted cheese mixture felt downright indulgent.
Our bellies were bursting by the time the mini chicken pies arrived, but we couldn't help dig in and taste the wonderful Middle-Eastern flavors which, when paired with the pomegranate seeds, sent us straight into foodie heaven.
When we felt like we couldn't possibly fit another bite in, dessert arrived in the form of figs with creme fraiche and decadent chocolate sauce. I fell in love with the rose chocs that came later, served with fresh mint tea:
John and I had so much fun getting to know the two other couples at our table - it turned out that we had a lot in common and by the end of the evening, it felt like we were sitting next to old friends. Conversation flowed easily and they were all very patient as I took photos of everything before we ate!
Before we left, Mini pressed small parcels of home-made cardamom-infused madeleines into our hands "for breakfast tomorrow," she said. All the proceeds from that evening went to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, a cause close to Mini's heart and one that's played on all our minds lately.
So: a hostess with the mostess serving up a delicious five-course menu in her beautiful home with a charitable aim? I couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to spend my Saturday night.
Have you ever been to a supper club? What did you think? I'd love to hear!
(p.s. I'm a fan of GrubClub and have been to a few of their events before!)