Go Fork Yourself: The Secret Supper Experience
OverviewType: Eat in
Pros:A well thought-out menu manifests in tasty food, a new setting and you get to say you went to a secret supper. Trendy.
Cons:It could turn into a train-wreck episode of Come Dine with Me.
Stretch your culinary wings and eat-in at a strangers house. Our Will tests out News Of The Curd’s secret suppers.
I once sat in a casa in Trinidad on the south coast of Cuba, the night dripping with Caribbean humidity, a dull courtyard lit with strings of bulbs, cats watching from the roofs of the buildings framing the space as a man led his family in serving us a meal. A family with a special permit from the powers that be to show some entrepreneurial spirit in the Commie haven, who would afterwards shunt us outside so we could be driven, through pitch dark roads in cars with no lights, back to our hotel and our first world problems. These are the stories of great holidays, or just great stories. The only let down was that the food was god-awful.
Last month another man, aided by his girlfriend, fed me in his home. One Kevin Powell has put his passion for food into practice and is feeding people out of his apartment on Dame Street, Dublin.
The premise is simple. You are fed by a home cook, in this case one using locally sourced ingredients (from local suppliers in the Temple Bar Farmers Market, he hasn’t taken seaweed from the Liffey and eggs from Spar, to be clear). You bring your own beverage. You’re surrounded by a collection of people new to your life, or a group of friends as the bookings for that week allows. And you fork over €20 at the end of the night.
This event is a secret supper, a phenomenon with its roots no doubt in the practices of the poor but now a feature of modern day yearnings for a diversion from the norm. From the off, there couldn’t be a more welcoming host. Kevin has a meal to put out but his effort and focus, the easy responses to the no doubt much-asked line of questions he must be faced with each week and his skill all put you at ease. Arriving before the rest of the other diners, I got a preview of final assembly of some of the dishes, some wine and good chat.
A troupe of 7 arrived shortly afterwards and the conversation and introductions swell as the table behind us is fitted out with dishes of food. The theme for the night was Spanish cuisine. Some weeks there may be a preview of a menu published on Kevin’s blog as an invitation (newsofthecurd.com); this week was an unknown. Both the comrade in the casa mentioned above and Kevin had pork on their menus – this was skewered with Spanish pimenton hued spices. Kevin also put out a rice dish cooked with morcilla, a rich Spanish pork pudding, flavoured with saffron. The spice also featured in a home made mayonnaise. There were mussels in a sherry broth and more seafood again in a salad with squid rings, tomatoes and peppers. There was a dish of just-cooked fennel carpeted with dill and crunchy baguette. The whole table was full of colour and flavour – it was fresh, simply brought together with ingredients singing, and nice tweaks and key ingredients to accent dishes in unique ways. Dessert was an orange sorbet flavoured with cardamon, a perfect palate cleanser and sweet treat.
Chat was food heavy; some social issues, but back again to food as I was surrounded by people largely involved in catering. As a final treat (and the flavour combination of the night), there were rounds of goat’s cheese with honey and lemon curd. Write that down somewhere as a reminder to try it: goat’s cheese and lemon curd. It might be the single reason why savoury wins out in my book. This isn’t my book, but this is my article so you will hear and like it that dessert isn’t all its cracked up to be.
All in all, a cool night, and a good experience. As it happened, the proximity of the apartment to the Olympia meant we had Emile Sandé within earshot on her career high following the Olympics (as everyone watched on wondering where Adele was). As the night progressed, the music turned to pumping bass as Leaving Cert students prowled around on the streets below. It turned out we got as much of a cultural experience as my night in Cuba some years earlier, only with winning food this time around.