Last Thursday I took Jamie out for a surprise birthday dinner. I’m amazed I managed to keep up the secret for so long – even insisting that I buy his train ticket out of earshot so he wouldn’t know we were going to Levenshulme.
We arrived bang on time (7.30pm) with our BYO bottle of wine to a completely empty restaurant. We felt a bit conspicuous as we were shown to our table in the sea of emptiness. However it didn’t take long to fill.
I booked the supper club last month without really knowing anything about it other than it was going to be vegetarian. I just trusted that if it was happening at Trove it was going to be good AND I love a supper club – so what could go wrong?
I wasn’t disappointed. The food was EXCELLENT and really unique. And Trove is such a nice intimate chilled setting – so the perfect backdrop for this kind of event.
Emma Tillyer is Posca. She’s a pastry chef by day and wanted an excuse to experiment with cooking techniques like fermenting, pickling, smoking and cheese making. She tries to make everything from scratch and throws in some foraging too. Emma wants people to enjoy her food and have a good time eating it, but she also want to challenge people and give them something different. Which I think is a great ethos and was beautifully reflected in the interesting food served.
Our first course were Injera breads (Ethiopian fermented flatbreads), tomato stew and tomato salsa. They were like tasty crumpets! Next up Mozzarella curds, battered and deep fried with poached gooseberries and watercress. Emma had made the curds with rennet and citric acid, hung them for a few days and mixed them with salt and cream. And oh yes! They were fine. Crispy battery delicious cheesiness.
The third course brought us butter poached romaine lettuce, endive, nasturtium leaves, veggie Parmesan and sourdough crisp. I’ve never had a butter poached lettuce before and I can confirm I REALLY like it. Never thought I’d say that – but it was a very subtle dish and I liked the contrast of the slippery melty lettuce and the crunch of the sourdough croutons.
Fourth course: Home smoked jersey royals, ricotta gnocchi (with homemade ricotta), spinach and nettle puree, spinach and sunflower seed pesto, rocket and borage flowers. At this point I can honestly say I felt like I was at the French – not only was the dish exquisitely presented (see lower right pic above), with pretty purple borage flowers artfully scattered around the plate, but the flavours were off the scale. The smokiness of the potatoes was to die for and blended brilliantly with the pesto and the lovely squidgy gnocchi.
Finally came the puddings. There was a bit of a wait for this – I was certainly getting a bit tetchy in anticipation – dessert is an important course for me! It turns out that Emma had never made vegan ice-cream before and hadn’t anticipated how long it would take to churn a non-dairy ice-cream. She nearly didn’t serve it due to it’s sludginess. I’m glad she did: beetroot halwa, sweet beetroot puree, sunflower seed milk ice cream and candied horseradish. The beetroot halwa was not particularly sweet but had a lovely earthy flavour with nuts and raisins that you discovered as you bit into it. And the sunflower seed milk ice-cream was a lovely sweet compliment to the halwa.
And a sweet touch at the end were the petite fours – raw chocolates. I have to confess that as they looked like rolos I was expecting a sweet hit and they weren’t very sweet at all. I think I’m too much of a sugar fiend for these pretty little chocolates!
It really was a fabulous and impressive evening – and what a bargain for £25! Emma’s passion and flair for food was literally dripping off the plates. And I always love the chilled, minamalist arty vibe in Trove. Have any of you been to any good supper clubs? Do let me know about them – I’m keen to try more!