Qype

Fernandez & Leluu – Super Secret Supper Club Location

I’d never been to a supper club before a two weeks ago.  I’ve always thought it was a cool idea, but for some reason, I’d just never gone through with it.  But then I was invited to the much-lauded Fernandez & Leluu supper club. F&L (aka Simon and Uyen) were hosting a special event with Qype , sponsored by After Eight mints and led by the King and perhaps first-ever supper club master – Jim Haynes.

Jim is a total legend. American-born, has lived in Paris for decades, and every Sunday for the last 30 years has hosted anywhere from 80-120 people for dinner. Such a cool story. Plus, he was a wicked ‘tache:

Jim Haynes

So late one Monday evening, about 40 of us all pile into the secret supper club location, and eat Jim Haynes-style, which basically means standing up with plates and mingling while trying desparately not to drop our food. (It was as difficult as it sounds.)  Normally, however, Simon and Uyen host abut 25 people in their living room, which my friend Sian described as ‘a magic supper club TARDIS’. Brilliant.

The first course was a selection of finger foods, mostly Vietnamese:

  • Fresh Summer Rolls With Mint, Shredded Pork Skin, Barbequed Pork, Roast Pork Belly, Cured Vietnamese Ham, Sweet Basil & Lettuce
  • Spring Rolls With King Prawns, Minced Pork, Black Fungus, Carrots & Glass Noodles
  • Pork & Chicken Liver Terrine On Ciabatta
  • Whole Prawns With Green Herbs Mayo & Salmon Caviar
  • Carrot & Corriander Salad With Shredded Chicken

I’d never given much thought to a summer roll before. They’re usually just a bit basic, but this one (the big honkin’ roll on the left side of my plate) left me speechless. I never would have thought to put pork skin, barbequed pork AND pork belly in a summer roll, but wowza – I sure would now.

Also a big thumbs up to the liver terrine. I’m not generally fan, but this was gorgeous.

For our mains, we had:

  • Carpaccio of Argentinian Beef Fillet Rolled in Black Pepper With Raspberry Jus
  • Mashed Garlic & Spring Onion Inside Baked Potato Skins
  • Lambs Lettuce In Olive Oil & Lemon
  • Garlic Foccacia

I wasn’t as big of a fan of this as I was with the starters, but mainly because it was way to difficul to cut it into manageable pieces.  I ended up having to chow down on huge chunks when I really would have preferred to savour it a bit longer.  Note: If holding a standing supper club, I’d recommend bite sized foods.

Dessert was an absolutely amazing Trifle Of Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding With Whisky Raisins, White Chocolate Custard & Strawberry, Raspberry & Blackberry Soaked in Cointreau.

By this time, I was outside in very low light, so I didn’t get a great photo. Luckily, Kang over at The London Eater did though (as usual!):

I was in love with this from the first bite it was a beautiful explosion of fruit with just about the most boozey strawberries I’ve ever had in my life.  If I wasn’t ipsy before this dessert, I certainly was after.

The verdict?

My first supper club may not have been traditional, but it was certainly good fun. I’m really excited to try Fernandez & Leluu, properly, if not just to have a chance to eat that summer roll again.

If anyone has any other Supper Club suggestions, let me know!  I’ve had a couple already, but would be keen to hear more.

Qype: Angela Malik Cookery School – Acton Central

Here are some things I like:

  • Dim sum
  • Cooking
  • Qype

Here are some thing I don’t like:

  • Being late
  • Travelling over an hour to get somewhere
  • Torrential downpours that cause my trousers to be soaking from the knee-down

And as you may have guessed, all of these things to be within the space of about 2 hours last Thursday. I’m still recovering.

Angela Malik

Angela Malik

Here’s how it happened: I was invited to a Qype-sponsored mini dim sum cooking class at the Angela Malik cookery school in Acton. It started at 6pm, and the end of my work day is 5:30pm – if I leave 100% on time.  Very soon, I realised that there was no way that I was going to get from Goodge Street Station to Acton Central Overground Station in a half hour. I would have to travel to East Acton and take a bus. Minimum 45 minutes. But when I got to East Acton, it was pouring rain, the bus that I needed was nowhere to be found and – shocker – there were no cabs anywhere.  I ended up having to walk.

Long story short, I walked in an embarrassingly 45 minutes late, soaked to the bone and STARVING. Anglea has already started the class, but her assistants are quick to get me sorted with an apron, a recipe packet and more importantly, a glass of wine.

We spent the next couple minutes learning about the different tastes and complementary flavours for sweet, spicy, salty, bitter and sour.  Anglea stressed that making a curry shouldn’t set you back £30 in ingredients because if you don’t have one thing (for example, vinegar) you can use something else from the same taste group (like anything citrus).

Before we got to cooking, we watched Angela’s sous chefGeoff prepare some pork with a special Indian pesto that she’s made (and sells, naturally). He put a bit of rapeseed oil on the fatty side, spread a good heaping cup of pesto on the pork, and put it in the over for 45 minutes.  When it came out, we got to try some. It was AMAZING. We got a container of the pesto in our goodie bags, and I’m really excited to try cooking with it

Angela's Indian Pesto and Pork

From there, we got straight into the dim sum cooking, starting with pork buns. This recipe makes about 50 yummy morsels:

  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts finely chopped
  • 1 kg minced pork
  • Handful of coriander stalks
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shao hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50, 7.5cm wonton wrappers

To make the stuffing, add all the ingredients into a bowl and mash well with your hand. Place a heaping teaspoon onto each wrapper and fold up.  I found the easiest method was to use the edge of a spoon on the corners until all the edges are folded up. You could also twist the edges up.

Some examples of our lovely work:

Dim sum before their steam bath

Line the steamer with grease proof paper and steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes.  The pork should just about be turning white when they’re done.

Serve with a dipping sauce of choice and coriander leaf.  We actually dressed them in Angela’s pesto and a drizzle sweet soy reduction sauce as well, which was delicious.  The finished product:

Yum!

We also made some chicken gyoza through a similar method.  I can send on the recipe if anyone is interested.

Geoff cooking gyoza

What I learned is that dim sum is certainly not as complicated as I originally thought.  I also learned that I really don’t want to go to Ping Pong anymore – even if it is just ‘easier’. The food we all made was infinitely better, and I had a lot more fun with it.

My only issue with the cooking school is that it really is so far away.  It was great, and I highly recommend it, but if I had to go through what I went through to get there, and I was paying (her cooking classes are not cheap!), I’d be a little frustrated. However, if you’re in Acton or anywhere on the Overground, definitely check her out.

She also got an absolutely brilliant review from Toby Young in the Independent when she cooked for his private dinner party.

Tsuru – Southwark

London has a lot of sushi takeaway places. There’s Istu, Samarai, Wasabi and probably a few I’m missing. They’re all just ok (Itsu is my preferred), and as I’ve mentioned before, hit the spot for a quick lunch if you don’t want to pay £25+ per head for dinner.  Tsuru, however, is in a different league. Sure, it’s primarily takeaway, but the quality far surpasses any of the others I’ve been to.

I went here with a bunch of other Qypers for a sample of their menu and some lovely sake-based cocktails (apart from one with Japanese whisky) from Akashi-Tai Brewery.

tsuru qype sake menu

We started out with some Chicken Yakatori – a slightly sweet, slightly spicy starter:

tsuru chicken yakatori

Followed shortly by some amazing Agedashi Tofu, Prawn Tempura and Gyoza Dumplings:

I’m always impressed by tempura in restaurants. I’ve tried once to make it at home. It’s difficult. I leave it to the experts. Big thumbs up to the tofu as well. It was perfect not-too-soft consistency.

The only slight disappointment for me was the Chicken Katsu Curry.

Everyone raved about this dish, but for me the curry sauce was lacking a little punch. It was still good, but probably the only thing that night I wouldn’t order again.

There was of course some sushi, which definitely beat out all of its competitors in terms of presentation, taste and quality:

tsuru sushi

And the cocktails? Gorgeous.

People really don’t order enough sake. It’s most likely because they don’t know what to order, which – in all honesty – is fair enough. However, sake cocktails are completely accessible and a fantastic introduction to the flavour of sake itself.

We tried the Kappa Saketini, a martini made with shochu and Akashi-Tai honjozo ; the Nippon-Fashioned, a take on an Old Fashioned made with a Japanese whisky and clementines; the Tokiwa Honeytini (Tokiwa shochu with Drambuie and honey; and the Ume Hot Toddy – a warm drink with Umeshu plum sake, shochu, cloves and lemon slice. My favourite had to be the Tokiwa Honeytini.

Only problem is Tsuru is way too far out of my way (South Bank behind the Tate Modern)! I’m barely ever over there, so I fear that until they open up somewhere closer, I might not make it back for a while.  However, if you live/work over in that area, definitely check it out.

The rest of my photos are here.

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