Love food? Love the sociability of dining with friends?
But hate all the shopping, preparation, and washing up?
And there’s always that constant struggle to get the timing right, wanting to serve each course in a blaze of perfectly timed culinary glory, but without neglecting your guests.
The solution? A Supper Club.
Gill had heard about Pine Cottage Supper Club a while ago. Last night 12 neighbourly friends took advantage of the generous hospitality of Chef Snoo Powell and her husband Gary, in their beautiful home in the nearby hamlet of Hydestile.
Imagine the idyllic cottage where Cameron Diaz falls in love with Jude Law in romcom classic The Holiday, and you won’t be far off….
As Snoo says on her website:
Pine Cottage Supper Club is a new dining experience – supper clubs have been on the scene in London and other major cities for quite a while and now we have one in Godalming!
If you want to go out to eat with a group of friends to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or just the fact that spring has arrived, and fancy eating in a very informal and relaxed atmosphere, almost as if you were dining at home, then come and eat at my kitchen table. This is not a formal restaurant – more like eating at the chef’s table.
And although we all dressed formally, the evening could not have been more informal. Or fun.
Glasses of Prosecco were enjoyed in the kitchen, with some exquisite nibbles, as we got to know our genial – and remarkably stress-free – hosts.
Dinner was served at a long unfussy table in my kind of dining room. Surrounded by books. Especially travel books. This is beginning to sound a bit like Through The Keyhole. Who would live in a house like this? I just hope Keith Lemon doesn’t show up…..
The first culinary surprise was an amuse-bouche – although linguistically I prefer the more slangy amuse-gueule (pretentious, moi….?) – of creamy vegetable (courgette?) soup. Served in an espresso cup, it was sinfully calorific, I suspect, and all the better for it.
Most of us had the excellent starter of goat’s cheese and smoked salmon parcels, with rocket and lemon wedges. Although it wasn’t until later that the interesting sweetness was identified as white chocolate.
Through all the conversations and email exchanges with Snoo we’d had before the night, we’d been struck by her ideas and flexibility.
Some people don’t like fishy things? Or goat’s cheese? No problem. Enter an interesting mélange of beetroot and aubergines.
The main course was a vast platter of slow-roasted spicy pork. With perfect filling-threatening crackling. And crunchy spuds. And a week’s quota of fresh greens and vegetables. But – and imagine this in Marcus or Monica’s most portentous Masterchef voice – what really lifted the dish for me was the silky smooth apple purée, the sweetness of the fruit wrapping itself around the meaty pork and iron of the greens. Yum.
To be honest, around this stage of the evening the effects of the Prosecco, white and red wines (bring your own plonk) were kicking in. I have a sense of many sweets arriving, all good – Snoo, if you read this can you please fill in the gaps? But the taste and perfectly wobbly texture of the smoky lapsang buttermilk pannacotta will linger a while. It transported me to Italy, pronto.
The cheese board was laden with – ooh – at least 10 outstanding, and quite unusual, varieties. Bit hazy again….Snoo, any help here, please? And where did you source that great selection?
The evening was over all too quickly. For us, at least. The 5 hours had flown by, filled with an endless stream of imaginative food, laughter, conversation….and an, erm, interesting choice of inter-course entertainment.
Snoo had offered up the piano’s ivories to be tinkled. Sadly nobody took up that option, but it epitomises the philosophy of Pine Cottage Supper Club….this is your home too for the night.
Huge – and well-fed – thanks to Snoo and to Gary. The word is out.
ps – we’ll be round soon to pick up the cars
Pine Cottage, Salt Lane, Hydestile, Surrey, GU8 4DH
Tel: 01483 860 318
Snoo’s dining table can be found in her family home of over 10 years, nestled in the Surrey hills and overlooking the garden.