So after weeks of planning, and Lisa hounding potential guests through the medium of Twitter, the 15th and 16th October saw us host our first OurPaleoKitchen (OPK) supperclub weekender; Saturday evening and Sunday lunchtime.
The preparation for Saturday night started in earnest on Wednesday when the pigs cheeks were collected from our fabulous butcher, Frosts, and the first batch were put in the slow cooker overnight on a low heat. To help build up the flavour a bottle of Cider, 1 onion, 1 carrot and a handful of sage leaves were added. We did three batches in total – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Pig cheeks in the slow cooker
Friday evening also saw the creation of an almond crust for Saturday’s pudding and the salting of the rabbit legs for the rabbit confit being served for Sunday lunch.
Saturday consisted of an early trip to the OPK allotment in the hope that our Jerusalem Artichokes were ready to be picked and of a quality which would allow them to be served to our guests; fortunately they were on both fronts. Then we moved on to the wonderful Out Of The Blue fishmongers and Unicorn Grocery. I always love going to the fishmongers, the range and quality of produce is great, the staff are extremely friendly and helpful and above all, as you would expect, their expertise in filleting, skinning and cleaning fish is far superior to mine.
Artichokes at OPK allotment
Saturday afternoon was then taken up with prep, prep and more prep. Lisa took charge of ‘Front of House’ operations printing menu’s, creating place cards, laying the table, polishing glasses/cutlery and generally making sure the house looked ship-shape. Meanwhile the kitchen was an equal hive of activity; Cerviche was put into marinade, sweet potato Thai fish cake canapés were made and refrigerated, the almond crust was filled to create the fruit and custard tart. We also had a chance to do some of the prep for Sunday’s lunch with the rabbit legs being removed from the confit and cooked in duck fat, and stuffing each rabbit breast with chicken liver pate/wrapping in bacon.
Thai sweet potato fish cakes ready for the oven
It was soon 7.30pm and our six guests (we should have had two more but they didn’t bother to turn up!) were served a welcome drink of orange and ginger water and the little bites of Thai fishcake loveliness. At 7.40pm they were seated and Lisa led the introductions (she’s a teacher and does this for a living you know, so much better than me) closely followed by Simon who shared a small part of his extensive knowledge on the principles of the paleo diet and why we have adopted this lifestyle. On this occasion he then joined our guests at the table to make the numbers up to six, Lisa hates odd numbers, and after an afternoon at the MFDF whiskey tasting he was on fine form for socialising but would not have been much use in the kitchen.
OPK 1.2 guests listening to Simon talk about the Paleo diet
So whilst the education was happening in the dinning room the finishing touches to the recreation part of the evening were underway. The starter of Roast Bone Marrow with parsley salad and bone marrow nuggets was a recipe inspired by Robert Owen Brown of the @TheMarkAddy and Marie-Ellen of @_ aumbry, two of our favourite restaurants in Manchester. We decided to serve both elements in one dish so that our guests could see/taste the marrow in its original form but also the contrast when it is removed from the bone and an almond crust is added. Unsure of how the bone marrow was going to go down, it is quite an acquired taste; it was a pleasant surprise to see the plates come back empty.
Roast Bone Marrow with parsley salad and bone marrow nuggets
The recommended wine match for this and the fish course was a French Sauvignon Blanc or Grenache Blanc due to its high level of acidity in comparison to its New World counterparts. This characteristic is essential in dishes such as marrow or oily fish where there is a naturally high fat content and as the dishes were handed out Lisa explained the reasons behind the choice and gave a description of the wine.
Next up was the cerviche; the photos really do not do this dish justice. The recipe has been adapted from Atul Kochars amazing book “Fish: Indian Style”. It is a simple dish where selects cuts of fish (we used Tuna, Codling, Scallops and Mackerel) are marinated in amongst other things lime, chilli and mango – great flavour.
As the main course of pig’s cheeks, artichoke flan and steamed vegetables were being served the guests were treated to a small tasting measure of Beaujolais (a French red wine made from the Gamay grape) and as with the last two courses Lisa provided the guests with a little wine education. Many of the guests commented that they preferred the wine with the food, which delighted Lisa as not only did it suggest the wine matched perfectly but that she had broadened their horizons and encouraged them to try a new variety.
It was great to hear the constant hum of conversation and laughter coming from the table and the plates kept coming back empty, which suggested everything was going well.
Pig cheek with artichoke flan
Pudding consisted of the apple and pear custard tart served with a good dollop of OPK homemade vanilla and Chorlton Meadow honey ice-cream; the previous week we were able to source a farm selling unpasteurised milk and cream and so this was used in the ice cream/custard on Saturday and the custard on Sunday.
Apple and pear custard tart with vanilla/Chorlton Meadow honey ice cream (all home made)
The final course was a selection of three unpasteurised cheeses, sesame and sunflower seed crackers and a sneaky glass of port and at this point the OurPaleoKitchen team joined the guests to answer any questions about the meal. The last guests left at about 11.00, and tired but satisfied with the way things went we went straight to bed…
Selection of unpasturised cheese and a cheeky glass of port
Sunday was a more leisurely affair as a lot of the preparation had been done on Saturday so all that was left to do was prep the veg, lay the table, and for Lisa to make to make the much celebrated pudding.
Warm chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce and custard
As the rabbit was being put in the oven the first guests arrived. We had a full house of eight guests for lunch, and again, there were Thai sweet potato fish cakes with orange and ginger water, Simon gave his brief talk on the Paleo diet and Lisa talked about the recommended wine. After a lunch of rabbit cooked two ways, artichoke puree and steamed vegetables followed by a warm flourless chocolate pudding and custardthe guests were treated to a surprise cheese course and a glass of port (we brought too much for Saturday). The cheers and faces of delight implied that this was a welcome addition and was a nice way to finish off the meal. As with the previous evening we joined the guests over tea/coffee to answer any questions and all had left by 3pm; some of them even joined us for a debriefing over a pint at the Hillary Step.
Rabbit cooked 2-ways with artichoke puree
So what do we think?
Well we had a great time, it was tiring and a lot of hard work but we thoroughly enjoyed it; from looking at some of the feedback we have received it looks like our guests did to. There are some things that we can work on for example if we do five courses again the portion sizes need to be smaller and the presentation could be worked on a little but all in all we think it was a great success.
Will we be doing it again?
You bet we will! However, our weekends are now full until February 2012 (we’re getting married!)
So, we are considering a 2-course mid-week supperclub similar format to the lunch on Sunday, although we can’t promise the cheese. Is this something that you or any of your friends/colleagues would be interested in? Please leave a comment below and keep your eyes peeled for announcements on here and Twitter.
So until next time…Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at OurPaleoKitchen soon.
Special thanks should go to our excellent local retailers and their produce:
And of course to Simon @primalfitness - check out his brilliant fun workout sessions in Chorlton Park
Recipes: A selection of recipes will be put onto our website in due course so please check back soon and hopefully you can try some of these dishes yourself.
W.H Frost Butcher (@frostybutcher) – Chorlton
Out Of The Blue (@OOTBFish) – Chorlton
Unicorn (@UnicornGrocery) – Chorlton