As a good friend of mine wisely says, ‘you never know unless you give it a go,’ so I am following her advice, and in the footsteps of giants, by hosting my first ever supper club, which will take place at Café des Artistes on 7th June. I thought, if nothing else, it will be something good to write about, but me being me, I’m already using it as an opportunity to try and steal a trade.
I mean, I am not a pro chef, I am merely a competent home cook. I’m hoping, however idealistically, that I can relax and enjoy making my food a little bit posher for a table of between ten and twenty diners next month, but more importantly, that my diners can relax and enjoy eating my food.
I want my menu to be seasonal, locally sourced and a little bit different to the sort of thing that you might find at a standard dinner party. With all this in mind, I decided during this first week of recipe tests that my main course will be rabbit. Rabbit and pigeon is, to my knowledge, the only game that is in season all year round. In the UK, rabbit fell out of favour after the war, but it is still eaten regularly in Italy, where I have tasted some really delicious rabbit stews. Well prepared and cooked rabbit is an underrated meat with a milder taste than most game and for this reason I think it’s a good ‘entry-level’ meat for those unused to eating wild food.
This week I ordered in two rabbits from my local butcher Peter Richards of Frank Richards & Sons, Lewes. The first recipe I tried is ‘mustard rabbit’ from Leith’s Cookery Bible, cooked with bacon, tarragon and plenty of Dijon mustard. The second is a Nigel Slater recipe for rabbit stewed in wheat beer and finished off with cream and fresh tarragon. My taste testers and I were impressed with the tenderness of the meat in both dishes, as rabbit is very lean and so it can be tough. It was a close call, but two of my three testers preferred the mustard rabbit. Having said that, I am keen to cook my rabbit in wheat beer because a wheat and barley Weiss Bier called Copperwheat is Harveys’ seasonal beer for June, so, next week I shall try cooking up a hybrid of the two dishes. I also tried serving the rabbit stews with polenta as is common in Italy, but hands down, they were best served as puff pastry pies.
For dessert I am playing with the theme of rhubarb and custard, so to start off I tried making this rhubarb ice cream from a recipe by Claire Kelsey of Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. The ice cream is truly delicious, but I am dead keen to try making a rhubarb ripple version, so that’s on the list to try out next week, along with the other dessert components, my starter and rabbit pie number three. Watch this space!
If you would like to join me at Café des Artistes, Lewes for a £25 three course set menu with complimentary aperitif, coffee and chocs on 7th June, please email me. Vegetarian option is available to pre-order.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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