Flavour Expats: Battle of the supperclubs on Edible Experiences
I’ve been quite excited to go to one of the Flavour Expat Supperclub events this March and April. Essentially a collaboration between 2 different supperclub every week – I loved the idea of it and got tickets for Italy vs Hakka China. Italy was represented by Rob of Backdoor Kitchen and Hakka China by Wen, founder of Edible Experiences – a website that showcases all the pop up events, supperclubs, cooking classes and food tours held in London. Each chef will cook 3 courses - in total, it’s £35 for a 6 course menu and it’s BYOB. The fact that it was in an area in Hackney I’ve never been before and potentially quite a trek to get to from work and then back home again didn’t faze me. Luckily I had two friends join me so I knew it was a going to be a good night all in all.
|Samsui Chicken at Flavour Expats|
The first course was by Wen – a traditional Hakka dish of Samsui Chicken. I like how Wen explained how the dish came about and history of the Samsui women. I was initially sceptical of being served cold poached chicken but wrapped in cool crisp lettuce and smothered in a tangy ginger garlic sauce, it became a pleasant mouthful and I scarfed down about three wraps when I realized I should probably pace myself for the rest of the courses.
|Fettucini pasta with Char-grilled prawn|
Then came the most comforting delicious plate of pasta. Home-made Fettuccini pasta with Parma ham, peas, mushrooms in light cream tomato sauce topped with a char-grilled prawn skewer – this was heaven. Despite being a starter, it was a generous portion and I started feeling a tad bit full. In any case I couldn’t dwell on that though because the most incredible dish arrived...
It was the 3rd course of Hakka-style slow cooked Pork Belly with pickled greens. Wen explained that this was a classic Hakka dish that survived through the ages and was passed on through generations and I can see why. It was honestly one of the best Chinese dishes I’ve had in London. The pork belly was falling to bits when you cut a piece and was in the most delicious sweet and slightly spicy dark sauce. Served with rice, there was such depth of flavour, I couldn’t get enough it. The irony is Wen doesn’t actually host supper clubs so this event was a one-off for her – which means we’ll never see this pork belly cooked again by her!
|Hakka - style Slow cooked Pork Belly with Braised Greens|
And then there was a slight crisis – feeling quite stuffed, I was a bit wary of the generous portions of the 4th course – Rob’s Italian recipe of Crisp roasted Pork Belly flavoured with myrtle berries, thyme, bay leaf and served with the braised onion and carrots. This was a classic pork roast elevated by some gorgeous flavours and I loved the taste of the pork with vinegary onions. To be honest, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish it. But I did – the glutton that I am, I ate everything with no regard to my waistline because again it was ridiculous good and the gravy was so delicious.
Dessert was bit of blur. We had overdosed on all that gorgeous pork belly and since the first four courses had such generous portions, I think most of us were in a food-induced coma. I briefly emerged to taste the Rob’s curious basil ice-cream served with a slice of toast (not sure why there was bread involved) which had mixed reactions and I couldn’t really face Wen’s rice crackers sprinkled with pork candy, icing and mayo(!). But I did enjoy her hot ginger tea (spiked with rice wine that her mum made). It was a great comforting after meal drink.
We then staggered home and I just went straight to bed. The next day I virtuously decided to eat only vegetables and fruit on a kind of detox mission but I don’t regret the meal. It was such amazing food - I totally intend to check more of Rob’s cooking at his Backdoor Kitchen events.
There are two more battles being held – links below. All the dinners are held in a dining space above the Palm2 shop grocery store in Lower Clapton road in Hackney, which is the coolest quirkiest supermarket I ever seen and the space upstairs is lovely – tables set around an open kitchen. It’s ideal to go with a group friends for a good night with great food. (Just remember to dress warmly as the room gets a bit drafty as the night goes on).
English food is represented by Ian Ballantyne whose supperclub I’ve been to before and enjoyed. This event will feature his Salamgundi dish – the most beautiful salad I have ever seen. See my pictures here of it