Last Wednesday saw the first night of the Kai Cookbook club kick off, much to the delight of all in attendance.
A 6 course meal of gastronomic delight awaited 12 hungry diners from Nose to Tail, one of the classic cookbook staples from Fergus Henderson.
The banquet style meal was served in the upstairs dining room where a group of people entered as strangers, but left as friends.
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Musicians, poets, and teachers gazed across the table at foodies, voyeurs, and would be experimentalists.
The first course was a typical French onion soup with bone marrow on toast. The soup came in a cup packing a real punch – a full on warm onion flavour, probably even an improvement on the French staple.
Next up were two salads served in long bowls, one of which guests found most frightening, Pigs head salad, and a more welcomed anchovy and baby gem salad.
The idea was that the anchovy salad would be eaten first and would cut the fat of the following dish.
“Where’s the pigs head”, “Is that it?” exclaimed the diners. The curiosity over the pig meat settled with sounds of pleasure coming from those who had began to eat the slow cooked pork.
The head had been soaked in whiskey for 6 days before being slow cooked, and its meat then tossed in a fresh salad with complimenting mustard vinaigrette.
PIGS HEAD IN WHISKEY
The start of the meal was filled with talk about the pigs head, how it would be served, what it would look like, and how horrid the whole concept of eating an animal head was.
However diners then recalled having trotters for dinner as children, and by the time the bottom of the pigs head bowl was scraped clean, images from the butcher boy had been dispelled, and a rather satisfied look decorated faces around the table.
It was curious how the attitudes of people changed as the exploration into the pigs head went from squeamish to pleasure, and a want for more. This I think immediately made the evening a success.
The idea of the club is to get people talking, create a talking point, to debate, deconstruct and leave satisfied. Half way through the meal this had most definitely been achieved.
Next up were two more meat dishes with accompanying roasties. The meat however was so impressive the veggies pretty much remained in their resting place.
First up was a free range ham cooked in hay. And naturally we all had a lot to question about the hay. The ham was the most succulent and tasty ham I have ever had the privilege of eating, with such a rich pork flavour, and a banging parsley sauce on the side. Christmas hams will never be the same again!
HAM IN HAY
A boiled chicken was served at the same time, just big enough for the table, passed up and down so everyone could tear a sample of meat from the carcass – medieval style.
The finale was a blackberry fool with rabbit shortbread biscuits, a most appropriate desert to clean the pallet and to send the diners home with a want for more.
Washed down with a fine red and white wine Jess took time to talk about the dishes and how they were cooked outlining that it took her up to 6 days to prepare some of the dishes.
All guests were given copies of the menu and recipes to take home, which no doubt will be tried at some stage to unsuspecting guests at the dinner parties. Pork butchers across the city will be getting pig orders in the coming weeks for sure!
If you want to get in to next months cookbook club dinner I would advise you to book early, every person present last week said they would most definitely return next month, and I will certainly be in attendance!