Come Underground Dine With Me


Posted by in November's Magazine

FOOD REVIEW: My Home Supperclub

The idea is genius: reserve a table for a home cooked meal at a stranger’s house, get the menu and address sent to you a few days before the event, turn up with some wine and enjoy. For food lovers who think they’ve done it all, this is the next step. It’s the parallel universe of conventional dinner parties. In the world of underground dining your mutual friend is the internet, not your work colleague or general acquaintance, and the identity of the party host is anyone’s guess until you arrive on the night.

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Finding  out about My Home Supper club online was easy and further research revealed a treasure trove of local secret supper clubs, supper club blogs and chatter online. From the supper club fan group ‘Find a Supper Club, become a fan’ on Ning, hosted by the godmother of UK supper clubbing Msmarmitelover, to the growing group of Edinburgh supper clubs on Twitter, there is no shortage of information about clubs in the city. In depth blogging, recipe sharing and conversations about the practical aspects of hosting a secret dining night – ‘How am I going to fit 4 pies and 12 stuffed munchkins into my oven!?’ ‘Just spent the entire evening blackening 12 aubergines and making 12 chai panna cotta’ – means there is a stream of information to keep you updated about upcoming events and fascinating club chatter.

Chocolate Night                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My Home Supper Club is organised and hosted by Aoife Behan, a kind, friendly and talented woman who has been supper clubbing for about six months during which time she’s seen over 100 perfect strangers come through her door expecting good food – and I’ll wager none of those people has been disappointed. The club exists to satisfy Aoife’s love of cooking, hosting, and providing the people of Edinburgh with a new dining experience. Her food is supplied by the crème de la crème of food producers in and around Edinburgh. Hugh Grierson’s Organic Farm, Hopetoun Farm Shop and Whitmuir the Organic Place feature in her pantry. As a leading light of the underground dining scene in Edinburgh, Aoife’s events are sold out for the rest of the year. Her plans for future events, with ideas for collaboration with local food producers and themed nights – like a chocolate night at which chocolate would be used in every course – suggest demand will continue to outstrip supply.

I went to My Home Supper’s Bonfire Night dinner and the experience was wonderful. I booked my place online (there is a suggested donation of £25 with £10 of that for a ticket reservation) and got an email with the full menu and the address of Aoife’s flat a few days before the event. I went along with three friends and we all met for a nerve-calming drink before heading off for the 7:45 start. It was an unusual kind of nervousness and we chalked it up to the utter mystery of what lay ahead of us. Who else would be attending? How are we expected to behave? What if the host is weird? How will the whole night work?

Proper cocktail hour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             We were the first to arrive at the flat: a large, clean, comfortable, warm and fashionable place. We were welcomed with smiles and handshakes and taken into the dining room and given a delicious toffee apple cocktail made with flavoured vodka in a beautiful Eternal Beau patterned cocktail glass – talk about making a girl feel special! As the other guests arrived I was relieved to find I was in good company, with people I could easily imagine becoming part of my circle of friends. Whilst we chatted, sipped cocktails and got to know each other, the hors d’oeuvre of crab, chorizo and anchovy toast came round. Served by our hostess’s husband on big platters for us to graze on, it felt like a proper cocktail hour. The small toasts were loaded with fishy goodness that complemented the sausage, without overpowering it. In fact, so delicious were they that my friend Kirsty, who runs a mile from anything with fish, devoured two along with the rest of us.

There were two tables set, one large and one smaller, and we sat at the smaller table with two women we’d just met but settled easily into conversation with. Corkscrews soon appeared and wine bottles were broached, (secret supper clubs are a bring your own affair which is ideal). You can bring what you think goes with the menu, share your wine if you’d like and even take home what you don’t finish. We just started pouring as the second starter was being served: gorgeous baked munchkins (miniature pumpkins) stuffed with a choice of goat’s cheese, a creamy bacon sauce or wild rice and chard and we all had a helping of each. The flesh of the squash was soft and sweet and all the fillings were very well realised. Although we had large helpings of squash we didn’t feel too full to carry on, in fact they were so tasty we couldn’t wait for the main course. And when the mains arrived our eyes widened like children in a candy shop (or like me in Oddbins). Two giant pies, made with obvious care and skill, dwarfed our table. One had a hearty, sweet, chicken and leek filling, whilst the other was bursting with dark, bosky, mushrooms. The pies were served with a heaped bowl of fluffy white mashed potato and a plate of perfectly al dente green beans. Home made sourdough and herbed butter were also offered up and made for great filling sopping material. The meal was finished with a cinder toffee topped chocolate mousse that was so light and airy it almost disguised the fact it was loaded with calories – just the way we like it! The post meal coffee was tip-top and really made for the perfect ending. The night felt as comfortable as a favourite cardigan and the attention to detail was incredible. So that is how pies are supposed to look – brown and flaky with leaves and berry shapes on top – not what I produce at home! The silverware, adorable kitschy pastel tableware and gorgeous wall art are already on my wish list… model presentation, worthy of any cookery show.

As we left My Home Supper Club feeling satisfied and honoured to be cared for so well, we talked about how uplifting it is that someone like Aoife is willing to offer up her time, her home and her skill to complete and total strangers. And that’s the thing about the supper club template, it encapsulates kindness and trust while giving people who like talking to new people while stuffing their faces a cool place to hang out.

Score 5/5

Damage £25 a head 

My Home Supper Club
myhomesupperclub.co.uk
@myhomesupper on Twitter

Pic Credit: John Craske

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