Tag Archives: Supper Club

On Sherlock and new friends…..93/100

mdeI knew I would have fun tonight. What I didn’t expect was to meet my best friend Ange in her male Jamaican version. And by that I mean that instant Vulcan mind meld. Just saying the name “Idris” leads to a spirited discussion of The Wire, complete with quotes, straight on to Cage aux Folles, (try and keep up please), a few asides about Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo and then back to mothers and children (didn’t I mention that before) , all under the sighing, patient gazes of a daughter and a long time girlfriend.  I only hope everyone else at the table had has much fun as we did.  But that is the beauty of the Literary Hour. No one is going to willingly attend a dinner party of strangers in a very out of the way terraced house in north London unless they have some joie de vive in them. And tonight there was plenty. In fact, to suggest that my new friend, Mick, and I had a monopoly on the merriment is mean spirited.  There was laughter from up and down the sizable table. We came to have a good time, and we did. Everyone.

cofI know, I have written about The Literary Hour before, in my post about dining in Naria. But this is my blog and I can repeat myself if I please. I wrote about the Northern Line twice. The Northern Line!! Twice!!! Surely I can talk about the best supper club around more than once. So, who is this Literary Hour?  A group of friends who decided  to cook and read to each other. And when they realized that that was rather fabulous, invited the public to join. I had forgotten how gorgeous it is to be read to.  Not listening to an audio book,  but to be read to.  By an actual person in the same room,  from an actual  book being held in hands. No wonder wise people are always going on about reading to children, it is,  it really, really is something special. Hearing those words delivered personally, just to you. I think I would show up pretty much anywhere if someone agreed to read to me. And to be given a delicious meal on top….well, how much luxury can a girl expect.

Tonight’s theme was Sherlock Holmes, the Arthur Conan Doyle one, not all the subsequentdav offerings. I have never read Doyle. Either has my daughter Lizzie, who shared the evening with me.  I know next to nothing about the character other than his cocaine addiction. Happily it didn’t matter. The passages read were in reference to the courses served. So it wasn’t plot that mattered but words. Oh how I love words. How I love gorgeous, full-bodied, fantastic words. Tonight, in one of the passages, a man was described as “confectious.” Oooh, my brain began instantly to sizzle with the knowledge that I too know several men I could call “confectious”. It isn’t a compliment,  by the way.

mdeBut what about the food, I hear you all saying. It is a dinner club, after all. Well the food was tremendous. Delicious. Fantastic. Starting with oysters and a Bloody Mary shot (a wedding breakfast), kedgeree,  a wonderful sampler of pates, quail stuffed with dates and then…..oh I do love a good sense of humour, a plastic syringe of froth with poppy seeds….”heroin?” one of the guests shouted out. Not quite, but a tasty little joke, nonetheless, though it did take us all  a bit of time to willingly shoot it into our mouths. Yeah, yeah…all the comments were made. Move on. There was also a mystery to solve. The murder of Irene Adler. The clues were clever but the culprit was obvious. Just the way I like it!

A lovely milk and honey tart to finish with coffee and tea on offer.  At which point Lizzie and I said good evening and started our long journey home. But wow, what a place London is. That I can attend a party completely across (and I mean far!) town as possible, be served incredibly delicious food prepared in a kitchen that must be a quarter of the size of my own, be read to,  BE READ TO, and meet people I instantly like so much that I stop talking and laughing only long enough to put food in my mouth, and am back home again before the midnight hour. But that is the genius of the Literary Hour supper club. Bringing people together with a shared passion for books, very good food and a sense of fun. How could it not be a great night. A really, really great night, indeed.

 

 

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On Escaping to Narnia….and Eating Beaver 77/100

dsc_0005_47-2dsc_0011_35The world is grim at the moment. Having vowed never to discuss politics, I feel I have done little but in the last many months. So it was with great relief that I found THE wardrobe , fur coats a plenty (fake ones, settle down), the one that is the passage to Narnia, last night. It is in Tottenham Hale, by the way, and my daughter Lizzie and I went for a visit. What a gorgeous, delicious night. Ushered through the wardrobe into a grove of snow covered trees and on into Mr. Tumnus’s house, for dinner.  And not a single person mentioned an action beginning with B or a person with the initial T for the entire night.  Why would they?  We were in Narnia. And the Winter Queen held sway. It was cold. Of course it was. But no matter, we had blankets and hot water bottles and chat and food and laughter.

dsc_0009_35-2The evening was the brainchild of The Literary Hour, a pop up supper club founded by housemates who decided to combine their love of books with their love of cooking. How clever. They originally hosted the dinners, inspired by a variety of authors including Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter, in their house. For Narnia they took it up another notch and held it at Styx, a mixed arts venue at the  northern end of the Victoria Line. Not a warm place, as it seemed to be open to the elements at every corner, but atmospheric and beautifully decorated with fir trees and fairy lights and a dry ice infused rock centerpiece. Our name places were held in pine cones. The first warming cocktail was served in a dainty tea cup. Initial awkwardness dsc_0015_29-2quickly gave in to curiousity: have you come to these before, how did you hear about this one, ooh what is in this…so good.

Then the first reading. From The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. The whole reason we were all there, after all. The attractive hostess read from a battered, paperback copy of the book. One that may have taken a dip or two into a bath through the years. A copy that was well loved, certainly. Such a well appreciated detail and it got everyone talking about when they had first discovered CS Lewis. Then the food was served. Each course was introduced with an appropriately inspired reading from the book. My interest in food is usually very low. I rarely go to restaurants, especially fancy ones, as I would much prefer to spend the money dsc_0006_42-2on theatre tickets. Lots of theatre tickets. But in Narnia I fell under a multi-course, foodie spell. It is a magical place, after all. Sardines on toast and goats cheese with honey was followed by celeriac soup and then…..beaver salami. “Yes, you will be eating beaver,” our hostess told us. A silence fell. And then a lot of giggling. Turns out, beaver salami is delicious. A little spicy but delicious. Though we couldn’t help but discuss that it was a rather harsh choice, given how the story goes. Poor lovely and loyal, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.

The turkey ballotines had everyone waxing eloquent.  The Turkish Delight offered an interesting range of flavours.  We claimed we could eat and drink no more, but a shot of vodka marmalade in a tiny jam jar (so adorable) and a bread pudding made us liars. But as delicious as the food was, which it certainly was, it was only the vehicle, not the result of dsc_0016_29-2the evening. For that was the people we met on the night. Again, we are in tricky times. And our natural retreat is to hide behind a device and shun human contact. Or only speak to those who share our opinions 100%, preferably not face to face but through social media. But not tonight. NO ONE was on the phone, except to take few photos right at the beginning. Otherwise it was just chat, taste, admire, discuss, chat more, repeat. To my left were Charli and her sister Steph. Young, enthusiastic and funny.  On my right were Elizabeth and Ian. Utterly charming. 30 years after parting ways, 5 children, a death,  and a divorce later, they fell back in love. Newlyweds of 3 years. Never say never and all that.

dsc_0008_32-2And so the evening through the wardrobe, in the land that is always Winter but never Christmas, flowed beautifully. We could have lingered for hours, but alas, school and work and tube journeys called us away. But for those few hours, we enjoyed Narnia very much indeed. It got me thinking. Could it really be so simple?  Could we improve our lives and make the world a better place by just sitting down with strangers, without phones, and sharing a meal? Talking, laughing, being read to from a beloved, battered old favourite? No politics, no selfies, no point scoring, just stories. Lots and lots of stories. Certainly worth a try. Especially if beaver salami is on the menu!