EmWilco Supperclub… a review…

I have been wanting to try some of the competition in the way of other Kentish Supperclubs and I finally managed to get along to a relatively new one. I know of three other supper clubs in Kent now since I first opened my doors over three years ago. It is always hard to try and find a date when I am free and also a competitor supper club is doing an event.

Finally I found a spare Saturday night in early May (2013) when I had no commitments but there was a competitor supperclub hosting an event. My apologies to both Annies Supperclub and also The Fat Carrot I will get to one of your events one day!

So Mrs HC and myself set off to deepest Faversham a total fifty mile round trip to sample a supperclub that is run by Emma Wilcox in the Macknade Farm Shop on the A2 outside of the town centre. Emma has been operating them in this venue since about April 2012. I had been in twitter correspondence with Emma for some time as I am very keen to try and get all the Kent Supperclubs together at one event and see if we can all showcase together what we do as we are so varied. Annie’s in Bromley is Gluten Free,The Fat Carrot in East Peckham specialise in Vegetarian and EmWilco like me loves to showcase local produce.

So we duly arrived at the venue and whilst a few minutes early we awaited in our car and watched other attendees arriving. Then at just before 7pm a side door to the farm shop opened and we all tumbled out and were led through the vast farm shop aisles to the far end and what by day is the cafe and used for Emma’s dining area. We were welcomed with a glass of Spanish cava and then some plates of nibbles were handed round to guests.

The table we were all to be seated at was one long table seating the thirty guests booked in and some clambered for their places whilst others nervously held back. The nibbles proffered were thin slices of cured duck breast akin to Pata Negra ham and then slices of bread topped with a smoked cod and red pepper pate. We then chose our places and sat down and were promptly joined by a couple next to us. Conversations started to flow as we found they (John & Linda) had come along to meet new people having just moved to the area and when we told them what we did and they quizzed us further we realised we both knew someone in common… so it just goes to show how small the world is.

So as we all relaxed and got into the evening a big platter of homemade sourdough bread was placed at intervals along the table… they got quickly devoured and replenished as they were really good!

The first course up was a vibrant and wonderful fresh tasting nettle soup flavoured with wild garlic pesto and a poached quails egg. A well accomplished dish that set the tone well for the evening. My only critique was the egg was overcooked and more hard boiled and did little for the soup but otherwise it was a great start!

Next came a crab tart. Emma had waxed lyrically on her blog pre dinner about the origins and memories of this dish and we were all presented with a generous slice of soft unctuous full flavoured tart with a lovely depth of flavour. Simply garnished with watercress and pea shoots. A stunning dish that illustrated so perfectly Emma’s passion for quality ingredients that are simply handled.

Conversations flowed and it was interesting to observe the dynamics of the table. For me it was a shame that such a large table seemed to discourage mixing with fellow guests and as darkness fell and main lighting was toned down we were subjected to just candle lit tables adorned with bottles filled with fresh wild flowers and spring blossom.

Main course then arrived and this was a well thought through dish of roasted lamb cutlets beautifully rose pink with a puree of flageolet beans and some very tannic tasting greens and a roasted baby leek. A garnish of wild garlic flower heads offset the plate perfectly. It was well executed but for my palate just a touch lacking in salt and was also not as hot as I would have liked. I know from experience that trying to serve 30 people all at once from an unfamiliar kitchen is always a challenge. Emma did admirably well and we all tucked in and savoured the juicy lamb chops.

The main course cleared away meant it was time for dessert… Emma had chosen to make little chocolate mousse pots served with a lovely chewy sour cherry amaretti biscuit, one seemed hardly enough as they got devoured all rather too quickly.

So that was it… dessert devoured some guests started to leave and I thought this was a bit strange as surely coffee was on it’s way… well that was it – no coffee… my only gripe as with a 40 minute drive home a little cup of coffee would have been the ideal finish to what had been a good meal. I did not question Emma on this point but guess there is a reason why?

With Mrs HC on the drive home we pondered how our experience had been and we agreed it was a good one. Different to how we do ours but nonetheless and an enjoyable night out and some good food. A great introduction to a secret Supperclub if you have never been.

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