SUPPERMELIER : uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER, Photos: Cactus Kitchen

Bored by Bordeaux? Perplexed by Malbec? Always drawing a Sauvignon Blanc? Then we might have found just the thing for you. Down an unassuming Clapham backstreet, hidden behind a turquoise door in a converted church, you’ll find the home of the Michel Roux Jr Cookery School and the setting of the Suppermelier supper club we attended.

Yes ‘Suppermelier’ – an intimate wine and food pairing experience with Roux executive chef Toby Stuart and wine expert Raul Diaz. Together, they are on a mission to help people “uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub”, so think of them as the culinary Holmes and Watson (minus the deerstalker).

On the night itself, we were warmly welcomed by the Cactus Kitchen team who sat us at a large communal dining table where we were introduced us to our fellow guests and hosts for the evening. But social niceties were almost immediately put to one side as all eyes lasered in on the hot, delicious, cheesy goodness that was placed in front of us.

Grilled cheese and sauerkraut toasties might not be the most obvious pairing with a glass of bubbly but man was it good! The crispness of the Champagne cut perfectly through the fattiness of the toasted cheese; so well in fact, that we ate them (and glugged our drinks) at a quite alarming rate. If anything best exemplifies the ethos of the evening it’s this combination – fuss free, easy to prepare at home (after the event we were sent all the recipes and tasting notes by email) and definitely not pretentious. So unpretentious in fact that (spoiler alert) we found out at the end of the night that all of the alcohol we’d been drinking had come from Lidl. Who knew.

To follow, we had three more starters – gigantic juicy grilled prawns, white bean dip with pita bread, and a Burrata fennel salad. It may all seem a bit simple, but remember that these dishes are all prepared by Toby Stuart – a man who’s worked at Aubergine, Clivedon, Richard Neats, Roux, and is now the executive chef for Chez Roux. So it’s rather a cut above your average prawn skewer or bean dip. The communal setting created a great interaction between the guests, as plates were passed around, fingers licked (our own), and conversation flowed.

The focus though was not on the food but on the wine that accompanied it. In fact the food had been chosen to compliment the wine, rather than the other way around. As we ate, Raul talked to us about the wine that was being served, urging us to taste it before we took our first bite and then notice how its flavour and complexity changed after we sampled the dish. He spoke in a way that completely demystified the wine-tasting experience – none of this “notes of oak, soupcon of asparagus” nonsense – and was completely accessible to everyone. We were encouraged to ask questions, disagree with him, even criticise the wine. Most of all, we were encouraged to drink!

Duly sated, we were taken upstairs, into the cookery school kitchen, to watch Toby prepare our main course. This was a nice touch, because it took away the fear of messing up as Toby showed us how ‘easy’ it was to prepare good, simple food (side note: the kitchens are stunning, and we highly recommend you booking in a cooking lesson). As we watched Toby do his magic, we drank; this time the star of the show, a bold, fruity Barolo.

We headed back down to the dining room, glass in hand, to enjoy our plate of perfectly cooked lamb chop, charred sweet potato, and walnut gremolata. Full to bursting, we finished off the meal with an indulgent chocolate pot topped with crushed amaretti biscuits alongside candied orange slices, all washed down with a ruby red glass of port.

The whole evening was extremely good fun, informal, and informative. Both Toby and Raul were eager to please and have a wealth of knowledge that we mercilessly mined. They were warm, welcoming hosts and very open to feedback (as this was their first night). By the end of the evening, most of you will be following @sstobes and @rauldiaz39 on Instagram or Twitter.

Admittedly, the price of Suppermelier does stretch the wallet a little, but if you fancy splashing out on something different then we would highly recommend it. After all, as the old adage goes – “wine: because no good story ever started with anyone eating a salad!”

ICE CREAM II YOU’VE NEVER HAD IT LIKE THIS

This weekend we went to Four Winters in Notting Hill and had a Liquid Nitrogen Knafeh Ice Cream, yummmm! It was so good and even had the right toppings. That inspired us to a put together a little edit of our top three ice cream projects from some of our favourite designers. Enjoy!

GIAPO ICE CREAM

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference. He had a pop up shop in town and hosted a workshop, which we of course attended.

A little more about Giapo :

If you’re like me and most of my customers, you’re an imaginative ice cream lover.  During these years running the kitchen at Giapo I saw that Ice Cream had the potential to be more expressive and  gastronomical than what it had been so far. In my mind ice cream had to carry a different narrative.  It goes without saying that ice cream is the most popular dessert food in the world and it did not sound right that ice cream had always been looking pretty much the same on cones, cups and sticks.

I focused my kitchen work on mashing up ideas from all the humanities including technology, art and science. I am currently doing scientific researches with AUT and Otago University. I run a blog where I write about my kitchen observations and I am the co-author of a few published peer reviewed papers.

Giapo Chirstchurch Hazelnut, Giapo Peach

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LICK ME I’M DELICIOUS 

We had the pleasure of sampling one of Charlie’s ice creams at the Experimental Food Society Showcase. The flavours are mouthwatering (for full list click links below, these are just some of our favourites): Salted Caramel Cookie, Dark Port & Stilton, Chocolate Popping Candy, Raspberry Mojito, Wasabi & Honey, Cherry Brandy Pie, and Dulce de Leche Praline Pecan. The great thing about Charlie is that there is no limit to his creativity! Check out his website to see what else this mad hatter has come up with.

A little more about Charlie:

Charlie grew up on an ice cream farm in South Wales and has a long history of inventing weird and wonderful machines that go bing and bosh and blip.  He set up Lick Me I’m Delicious in 2011 building the first Nitro Parlour in his living room, then he build the nitro buggy, then the edible mist orbs, then a corby trouser press toasty maker, floss whizzers, electric tea cups and all sorts of bits and pieces. He’s happiest when holding a screwdriver and a fork.  

Charlie has also worked on some TV shows, gives talks, makes soup in washing machines and likes to sleep under trees. 

NITRO PODS, PARLOUR, AND BUGGY  (source personal website)

He has invented machines for all sorts of things including ice cream. The links above are specifically for his ice cream creations.

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THE AROUSAL (source personal website)

Commissioned by one of our VIP clients, each ball of ice cream contains 25mgs of viagra and is flavoured with bubbly champagne.  We aren’t able to reveal the identity of the client, but they reported back that they were ‘very happy with the end result’.

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GLOW IN THE DARK ICE CREAM (source personal website)

Working with a group of very clever scientists, we developed the World’s first glow in the dark ice cream made with synthesised jellyfish luminescence which cause the ice cream to glow as you lick it.  At £140 a scoop it is also one of the most expensive ice creams every produced.  Click to watch Charlie explain it all to a very confused ABC news anchor.

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EMILIE BALTZ’S LICKESTRA (source personal website)

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference, where she was a keynote speaker and also presented her project that she created for the Museum of Sex in New York for a local news channel. When we came across this project we had a massive smile on our face.

More about the project:

Lickestra is a musical licking performance at the intersection of food design and smart objects developed in collaboration with smart object designer Carla Dianaand composer Arone Dyer of Buke&Gase.

Playing with the experience from tongue to taste, the performance presents a series of conductive ice creams that trigger various baselines and tones when licked.

From improvisation to orchestration, eater becomes performer as the primitive act of licking reaches beyond flavor perception to become an instrument for play.

Lickestra lasts until all the ice cream is licked.

(you need sound to watch this video)

(Edible Stories created this edit, but all images and designer descriptions are from their personal websites)

VENUES II Hidden Gems that do that little bit extra

When we first started we were not accredited in many (or rather any) of the London’s venues, but we still had to wow our clients. One way to get around this issue was either to work within a venue that didn’t mind or to work with the team onsite. In the process we uncovered some great hidden gems that had character, a bit of magic, and most importantly already a story of their own to tell.

We’ve put together a little edit of some of these, and also added a couple that we hope to work in soon.

AFFORDABLE SPACE WITH EVERYTHING YOU NEED

ARCHES AT ST MARY CHURCH, PUTNEY: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Putney Bridge Approach, SW15 2JQ

We hosted two public events here (Alice in Wonderland, Romeo & Juliet) and a press launch for Diageo’s rum brand Ron Zacapa 23. 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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GRAND AND BREATHTAKING

SHOREDITCH TOWN HALL: (allows non-accredited external catering)

380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

We hosted an Alice in Wonderland themed charity event here for The Museum of Architecture.

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(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

TOTALLY UNIQUE IN THE HEART OF LONDON

HYDE PARK LOOKOUT: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Royal Parks Foundation, The Old Police House, Hyde Park, W2 2UH

We hosted the Palantir Summer Party within the garden by reproducing the office story. 

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(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

ROOM HIRE WITHIN A WORKING SPACE 

PRIVATE DINING ROOM, SARTORIA: (resident chef Francesco Mazzei)

20 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PR

We hosted the launch event for House of Peroni within the private dining room by transforming it into an italian al fresco terrace. 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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ST LUKE’S KITCHEN, LIBRARY PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB: (allows non-accredited external catering and the option of working with resident chef Daniel Petitta)

112 St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4BD

We hosted a series of pop ups within the restaurant : Phantom of the Opera, Matilda, Les Miserables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and James Bond. 

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OUT OF LONDON

GIN BARN, NEW FOREST: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Gins Barn, Gins Farm House, St. Leonards, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst. SO42 7XG

We hosted the launch of Rock & Roam by translating the much loved story Secret Garden.

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GROUNDS

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PLAS DINHAM, WALES: (allows non-accredited external catering or they have listed suppliers)

Plas Dinam, Llandinam, Powys SY17 5DQ

(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

GROUNDS

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EVENT SPACES

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HOPEFULLY IN THE FUTURE

OVAL SPACE, BETHNAL GREEN:

29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT

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TT LIQOUR:

17 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AA

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RUINED CHAPEL:

Caroline Gardens, Peckham, SE15

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