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Foodie heaven on trailKilkenny

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Kilkenny trail launched Monday 19 April

Just back from the launch of trailKilkenny (www.trailkilkenny.ie). There are lots of wonderful food producers in Ireland and many of these are in the Kilkenny area. The Kilkenny food producers have joined forces to create this trail of food producers that you can visit. They include Mag Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm (www.goatsbridgetrout.ie) who supplies the wonderful hot smoked trout that I serve at SupperClubDublin.

I tasted some really delicious cheese from Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese (www.knockdrinna.com) – so nice I sought out another piece from one of the trays circulating. I also tasted some mouth-watering truffles from The Truffle Fairy (www.trufflefairy.com).

Highbank Organic Orchards supplied some of their organic apple juice made from specially selected apples naturally low in sugar. I thought this might taste unpleasantly bitter, but in fact it was really juicy and didn’t taste acidic, just really appley (www.highbankorchards.com)

Strawberry ice-cream was served in mini-cones and reminded me of the ice-cream my mother used to make every year during strawberry season – deeelicious (www.cramersgrove.com).

I also had a fascinating conversation with Bill Mosse of Kells Wholemeal who supply all types of wholemeal made from Irish grown wheat, www.kellswholemeal.ie

Well done Kilkenny food trailers and thanks for inviting me!

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Written by SOKNH

April 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Tuesday 30 March

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Saturday night went really well and the diners were especially convival – pulling the two tables together as the evening went on, and exchanging banter.

As it happens four of my cousins came along on Saturday, which was lovely, and one of my aunts. Just conincidence that both sides of the family joined in the experience on the same night.

Meanwhile, it’s a dreary day here in Dublin, but we can look forward to another supper club on Saturday 10 April. This night is more than half full already, which is great.

For the time being we are saying au revoir to Boeuf Bourguignon which served me well, but it’s time to move on though we may return.

Now that the days are longer, I am looking forward to being able to start off the supper club by having our glass of prosecco outside.

Fingers crossed!

Written by SOKNH

March 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Friday 26 March

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I’m really enjoying building up the SupperClubDublin. I did an interview with Gareth O’Callaghan on 4FM yesterday and that was a great experience – you can listen to it here. I was impressed with the professionalism and efficiency in the radio station and was made to feel very comfortable. I was quite nervous and didn’t sleep well beforehand, but the team put me at my ease and Gareth asked the kind of questions I could answer easily.

Meanwhile, the bookings are gathering momentum and there are 10 definites booked in for April 10 and quite a number of possibles.

Yesterday, I did the food shopping for tomorrow and today I start prepping and cooking and finish tomorrow. But first, I need to steam clean floors and other surfaces – the less interesting part of running a supper club!

Hmm. Better go and do it then.

Slán

Written by SOKNH

March 26, 2010 at 11:04 am

Diary of a supper club

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What a journey – from vaguely thinking about doing an underground restaurant to a review in the Sunday Tribune – all in a matter of weeks.

Food is so bound up with emotions and love that it’s a roller coaster. Every thing that people like makes you happy and anything they’re not 100% about makes you blush.

It’s great fun, but unsurprisingly it’s also more difficult than I expected. It’s a steep learning curve and I imagine it will continue to be. For that I am grateful. I am learning so much about cooking, what works and what doesn’t and it spurs me on to make it better the next time.

Many thanks to all the diners for being warm and friendly and open to the whole idea – no diners no supper club! Katy McGuinness, the Tribune food critic was one of those diners. Her review in the Tribune was very refreshing. Katy managed to give a warts and all review that was really useful and courteous – and it would be so easy to slip into being cynical or snide. Others have also kindly reviewed the supper club on their blogs.

I have been very fortunate to have the smiling and calming presence of my friend Angela, and the help of my husband and son too.

I have really enjoyed talking to the suppliers who are intrigued by the whole idea and very flexible in supplying me with what I want. So thanks Mag at Goatsbridge Trout farm;  Coolanowle organic meat farm; and Margaret who will be supplying organic chicken.

I now plan to source a local fruit and veg supplier – preferably organic.

So if you come to one of our events you will be made very welcome, have a good night, good food, and meet some new people.

– Sheila

Written by SOKNH

March 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

So much choice!

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The books I consulted today for the changed menu. The trout addition comes from Jamie Oliver; and the aubergine caviar from Constance Spry. Ann O'Kelly is my mum and, with slight alterations, the Boeuf Bourguignon comes from her family collection

Paddy’s day today and I have spent the whole afternoon pouring over my many cook books pondering menus. There is so much choice!

I have to bear in mind how each course goes with the rest of the menu and what I can manage in my kitchen with just one oven – not even a double.

This means there are plenty of things I can’t do and makes it tricky to get what should be hot, hot at the right time.

Still, I wanted to expand the menu and have one starter and main course that is slightly offbeat while keeping a choice of a more familiar dish too.

That’s how I have come up with the new menu. The soup means that those who choose the cold main course will still have the choice of hot food; and the tomato and aubergine salad is a cold contrast for those who choose the Boeuf Bourguignon. And for me, it means that there is one starter and one main course that can be ready a few hours in advance.

I’m sticking with cold desserts for the time being, although I am going to test Raymond Le Blanc’s apple tart this week. It is an open apple tart with custard baked over the apple. And is best served warm.

I am having four friends for dinner on Saturday and will be testing the tomato and aubergine caviar; and smoked trout salad out on them. Maybe the apple tart too.

While the SupperClubDublin is still fortnightly, I will continue to try out menus on friends and family on the alternate week!

Written by SOKNH

March 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

In want of some bread

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White soda bread with sultanas

Realised before I went to bed last night that we had no bread left and went to freezer and none there either.

I was a bit bleary eyed but decided to put some in the bread maker and put it on the timer for the morning.

Woke up this morning to stronger smell of baking than usual. Went to bread maker expecting the nice usual golden brown fresh loaf to discover a solid, square, wet cement-like brick of goo in the bottom – I’d forgotten to put in the water. I remember putting on the kettle to make the water tepid, but I think I actually measured the water in the jug and then threw it down the sink instead of into the machine!

This inspired an intensive baking session. I’m incapable of making one loaf when it is just as easy to make three so this morning I made three loaves of white soda bread with sultanas; and three loaves of brown soda with sunflower seeds; and put a new loaf into the bread machine. I often do this and freeze four of the six loaves and then take them out the night before for breakfast.

My soda bread used sometimes to be a bit dry, but then I heard Rachel Allen explaining that as soon as the bread soda meets the liquid it starts to react and that it really important to get the mixture into the oven quickly. It is now always delicious and I have adapted Rachel’s recipes slightly.

You can see the recipes here: Brown soda bread with sunflower seeds; White soda bread with sultanas.

Written by SOKNH

March 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm