Alexa is a friend of The Secluded Tea Party and part of a terrific foursome at The Clandestine Gourmet, where she co-hosts and cooks for their fabulous new Cambridge-based Supperclub with her lovely husband Andy and their two friends, Claire & her husband Hakon.
They have hosted one other Supperclub so far, in Claire's home and with the lure of good food and great company from reading their blog on this event, I was hoping to gain myself a ticket or two of which I was very lucky indeed to have got as the event sold out - Fast!
We took a break from sampling Afternoon Tea Treats for once in a blue moon and headed out this Saturday at 7.30pm on the dot, to our very secret, but homely venue in Trumpington where we were greeted by a very relaxed Andy as he took our coats and showed us to our table in their front room-turned restaurant. All I can say is wow, it was decorated in festive Scandinavian decorations, fairy lights and candles with the odd reindeer and santa dotted around the place, it was chilled out from the start.
An appetizer was brought to us as soon as we had been seated and acquainted with our 3 fellow guests at our table. Glogg [Scandanavian Mulled wine] with mini Smörgåsbord of Gravad Lax with Mustard sauce, and Pickled Herring was served and nibbled on quickly, the smells from the kitchen were making us all drool in anticipation!
Our table was of 5, with the lovely Heidi of The Moving Foodie Blog and her 2 equally lovely friends who had a love of good food and drink that had us giggling, chatting and discussing in depth ideas for future Supperclub ideas that they could perhaps get going with themselves. I felt like I had known them ages, which is always great at a Supperclub full of strangers, it was a great table to be on.
There were 3 other tables, with 15 guests in total, it was a great number and we had to raise our voices a fair few times to hear each other, the conversation flowed all evening.
Our next course was Nettle soup with a Samphire Jelly as a little surprise at the base! It was a course that had scared me on first reading the menu, but I surprised myself, it was quite sweet and I really enjoyed it.
We were then presented with Cod Frikadeller [Fishcakes] with a rocket salad and Curry Remoulade, which was to die for. The Fishcakes were light & fluffy and I could eat these again, just writing about them. The Remoulade matched these perfectly, not too strong, with the consistency reminding me of Tartare Sauce almost.
Main course was the one that made us laugh the most and was in fact my favourite dish (if it's possible to state which was the best, as they were all brilliant!) - Juniper dusted Venison (Seared & then roasted) with a norwegian 'Brunost' sauce (Which was a brown cheese of which Jamie Oliver is said to detest with a passion, but it worked perfectly with this, just delicious), beetroot relish, cavolo nero, and baby carrots.
After a little rest, we were highly amused by a shot of Christmas Aquavit (Which, as Heidi and I both agreed on, had a feeling of *Mouthwash* about it as it hit the back of your throat - it was strong to say the very least at 43%!) with Danish Blue Cheese on Carraway crispbreads. I couldn't down my shot, I'm not a liker of any alcohol, so my other half actually drank away and I allowed the drive home instead hehe. I stuck to my homemade sparkling Elderflower to allow for my Fat-fighting Points to be better *Spent* on my food ; )
Our hosts were cool, calm and collected all the way through. Amazing in itself, as I well know!
We were all suitably impressed at how promptly they cleared away our plates after each course and just how tidy their kitchen was behind the scenes. Nothing was off limits, we could swing in to the loo through the kitchen, or we could peer through a hatch overlooking our tables. True Supperclub hosts in my eyes, I loved that you could see and hear everything and nothing was too much effort.
Scandanvian Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert. Fresh Blueberries on top and the thickest and butteriest biscuit base, it had us all in silence, all you could hear was lot's of *mmmmsss* as we demolished every single crumb, it was so light and airy, it didn't feel naughty at all. Ahem!
And with coffee some Norwegian Kransekake! There was literally no stopping the courses, they kept coming and coming, it was just like Xmas haha. Our hosts proudly brought this tower of ring shaped "Macaroon-like" treats to our table, showing off the lovingly made sweet tower, explaining the meaning behind them. Traditionally used as a wedding cake, the bride and groom would typically hold the top and pull... however many rings beneath it they pulled off would be the number of children they would have. Not only weddings, but this cake can be made for birthdays, baptisms & even Christmas.
With my Pepprmint Tea, taking note from the lovely Kandula Tea ladies on this little tip post dinner, great aid for digestion don't you know (!), we tucked into pieces of the Kransekake which had been chopped up for us once we had Ooohed and aaahed over it. It was the perfect end to a superb evening.
Before we left, we had a quick natter with Alexa & Andy in the kitchen and were impressed to learn that they had even made time this evening to have their own *Chefs Table* where they each got to nibble on every course and check that everything tasted as good as it should. Quality control through & through! Chatting to these guys helped to learn that they are planning some very exciting themes indeed for 2013 and being the queen of secret venues and ideas, I'm going to stay true to my word and not tell you, get on their mailing list and learn for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
The one thing that stands out at The Clandestine Gourmet is that the menu is personal to the hosts, it's real food, with local ingredients used where possible. We were given an intro into each course as it was served, where the ingredients and ideas came from and the history, if it was applicable - It was so interesting ad well as tasty home cooked food. They had even prepared us with a menu before the event, being told that there may be a few *Surprise* courses to keep it more exciting and a list of suggested wines to match the dishes, as suggested by Noel Young Wines.
We learnt towards the end of our evening that these 4 friends actually met through a wine tasting event 8 years ago and here they stand this weekend preparing the most memorable meal I've enjoyed in a long while. I am beyond impressed and plan to be joining them again next year, no question!
Miss Sue Flay