We moved here fourteen years ago, and it’s been an interesting journey, especially getting to know different people from different walks of life. As funny as it may seem, we have met quite a few Irish people and some of our best friends are from the Emerald Isle. This always makes the Six Nations an interesting tournament - nothing like some healthy rivalry! After the excitement of the final three matches on Saturday 16th March, and an incredibly well-deserved win for the Welsh (I was happy about this as my Dad is Welsh and to say he is fond of rugby would be putting it mildly!), we thought it would be nice to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a supper club, but making it a Sunday lunch affair.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Irish decorations, but we brightened up the room with green and orange and we invited a crowd! It was a rather busy weekend as we had also celebrated the birthday of our beautiful daughter, Rosie, on the Saturday.
‘What would you like to do? Anything at all...’ we asked. She replied, ‘Ice-skating!’ Matt tried his damndest to get out of it, pulling more and more ridiculous excuses out of the hat as the day fast approached. Luckily, I managed to borrow our good friends’ 7 seater car which meant that we could all go!
‘Yippee’ from the children, ‘Grrrrr!’ from Matt. It was a lovely day out indeed and Matt did manage a few rounds of the rink. No-one fell over and we all left with ten fingers so a triumph in my eyes!
We were under a little more pressure with the Sunday supper club as we hadn’t had a day to prepare as we normally would have, and everyone would be arriving at lunch time. It is fair to say, we were a bit pressed! An hour before the guests arrived, Matt had the cooking under control and got stuck into building a bigger table, as one does! He quickly rustled up two pieces of plyboard, a few screws, a quick wash and dry later and sufficient table space had been created. The magic of a couple of white table clothes and flowers transformed the room into a pretty restaurant! Phew!
I think Matt and I were the first to sample the black velvet cocktails we were serving. After racing around since seven o’clock, we were ready for a ten minute break! What an interesting mix! Classic I know, but Guinness and Champagne? It was smooth and refreshing, light and tasty, I couldn’t pour them quick enough!
Et voilà le menu!
Beech smoked mackerel mousse served on pickled kohlrabi
Mousse de foie with onion confit
Scallops, courgette, burnt onions with leek purée and confit lemon dressing
Irish lamb stew, twelve-hour cooked lamb-shoulder, onion, potato, turnip, swede and sweet potato
Gambas cocktail with spicy wood roasted pineapple salsa and potato bread
Whole roasted sirloin of beef, roscoff onion puree, colcannon with garlic kale and pickled shallots
Walnut, honey and whisky tart served with Guinness ice-cream
Irish coffee served with Irish cream truffles
Canapés are generally a lot of work. They take a while to prepare as there are so many elements and a while to serve, requiring care and a gentle hand. But I love them! They set the bar and get people talking and socializing together in a relaxed atmosphere. They give you the perfect opportunity to be colourful and creative - delicious little mouthfuls of punchy flavours!
Trying to do something a bit different, Matt wanted to do four smaller courses rather than starter, main etc. He always wows the guests with his innovative, interesting ideas, showstopper after showstopper indeed!
Each dish combined wonderful ingredients that sat beautifully on one’s palate. Seasonal vegetables, succulent meat/fish, elements of wood-fired cooking, all held together with a smooth sauce - making the dish stand out!
The Irish stew had the whole table in debate! What is a swede? a turnip? A parsnip? a sweet potato?? Do they have the same names in Ireland, Scotland and England - apparently not! How do you say them in French? I remember when we moved here I struggled to get parsnips! This interesting debate was settled when Matt brought the vegetables to the table in their raw state in order to give a quick masterclass in root veggies!
The walnut, whisky and honey tart was sweet but not too heavy. It worked well to finish the meal. The Guinness ice cream was great! There was the delicate undertone of the Guinness, the texture was light but decadently creamy. I would recommend this - everyone loved it!
After the 7 hours milling away a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the guests and friends began to leave. We were left with plates piled high, a fridge full of delights for the next day, a hard day’s work, but well worth it! An eclectic group had joined together to enjoy a fabulous feast - both celebrating and show casing wonderful food and drink originating in Ireland. Tired out, I put myself to bed with my daughter at 8.30 pm, ready for school in the morning! Mange tout!
Thank you Roger Stowell for the amazing photographs!