A Dinner by Chef Damian Wawrzyniak

I found out about this dinner (as so many others recently) via twitter and in the weeks before started following the chef, Damian Wawrzyniak. The photos and descriptions of dishes from other dinners looked right up my street and I decided to take the plunge and ordered a ticket, not least because it included a free lift from Cambridge and back.
The Cook’s Barn in Bottisham is part kitchen showroom and working kitchen with a dining space. On this occasion there was one long table, supper club style. Weather and traffic were horrible so we arrived a little later than planned but weren’t the last by far and dinner only started when everyone had arrived, almost an hour later. There was, however, opportunity to chat with the chef as he prepared ingredients and getting to know the other diners.
Each course was cooked fresh with Chef Damian explaining the ideas behind each dish. He clearly had done this before as the pace of the evening was perfect between watching the cookery, eating and chatting.
The food was excellent, diverse and rather different and adventurous in places. Even odd sounding ideas, like chocolate covered pig skin turned out to be marvellous indeed. Even simple ingredients like kale and cauliflower were transformed into delicious dishes.
The following photos should give you a rough idea of the experience. There are more on flickr.

Chef Damian in action

Pig skin, chocolate, spices
Pig skin, chocolate, spices

Quail's egg, aubergine mousse, wasabi, sweet potato
Quail’s egg, aubergine mousse, wasabi, sweet potato

Kale, egg, chicken skin
Kale, egg, chicken skin

Wagyu beef cooked on hot marble slabs

Wagyu beef cooked on hot marble slabs
Wagyu beef cooked on hot marble slabs

Langoustine, spinach, chicken mousse

Langoustine, spinach, chicken mousse
Langoustine, spinach, chicken mousse

Cauliflower, burnt onion cream, salmon caviar

Cauliflower, burnt onion cream, salmon caviar

Cauliflower, burnt onion cream, salmon caviar

Cauliflower, burnt onion cream, salmon caviar
Cauliflower, burnt onion cream, salmon caviar

Mint on marble

Lamb fillet, beetroot, mint

Lamb fillet, beetroot, mint

Lamb fillet, beetroot, mint

Lamb fillet, beetroot, mint
Lamb fillet, beetroot, mint

Scallops in hay
Scallops in hay

Black cod, squid ink, bonito flakes

Black cod, squid ink, bonito flakes
Black cod, squid ink, bonito flakes

Almonds, chocolate, honey, poppy seeds

Bergamot ice cream, marmalade

Bergamot ice cream, marmalade
Bergamot ice cream, marmalade

Chocolate, beetroot
Chocolate, beetroot

Chocolate mousse, dehydrated fruit
Chocolate mousse, dehydrated fruit

Keep an eye on Chef Damian’s website for news on similar future events (two running during Eat Cambridge in May) and his restaurant in London opening later this year.

Advertisements

The Poseidon Adventure by The Clandestine Gourmet

This was the last leftover Eat Cambridge fringe event. The Clandestine Gourmet (or on facebook) had scheduled one for the 15th but had such a large number of people interested that they set up a second one with the same menu. I only managed to get in because I was on the waiting list and someone cancelled just before the weekend.
The evening turned out to be spectacular, not only in terms of the food served but also from a social point of view. As I didn’t trust the bus service to be on time during the snow, I took an earlier one and arrived a bit too early but that meant I could pick a spot at the big round table which turned out to be an excellent choice as I shared it with a baker, a painter, a patissiere, a doctor of physics and a writer. As diverse as our backgrounds were the topics of conversation. It was really good fun and also interesting. We could easily have carried on for another few hours but we sadly had to part company just before midnight. I rarely immediately click with a whole table but this evening was something special. Contact details were exchanged at the end and I’m positive we’ll run into each other again soon.
Conversation only ceased when another course was served but not for long as the ooohs and aaahs made way to comments about the food we were eating.
Ah yes, the food. Photos and short descriptions of the courses follow. I’m not really happy with the quality of the photos (mixed light sources falsified the colours) but they will give you rough idea of what we had.

Blue Lagoon
It started with a Blue Lagoon, a not too sweet cocktail, served with a bowl of mixed, freshly roasted nuts.

Scallops, buttermilk, white soy sauce, poppy seeds
This might sound slightly odd but worked brilliantly. This was fine dining restaurant quality.

Ginger Crab Bisque
Ginger crab bisque. Quite subtle as bisques go but still excellent.

"Fish and Chip", beer foam jelly, pea, tartare sauce
"Fish and Chip", beer foam jelly, pea, tartare sauce was an excellent take on the takeaway classic. Perfectly cooked fish in good batter with flavoursome accompaniments.

Red mullet, black beans, tarragon, confit tomatoes
The “main course”: Red mullet, black beans, tarragon, confit tomatoes. The fish was moist and flaky, the beans earthy with some acidity from the tomato, the tarragon working really well. My only criticism, not enough tomato.

Gin & Tonic Jellies
The palate cleanser was a Gin&Tonic jelly that packed quite a punch. Brilliant idea.

Hazelnut Cake, Toasted Almond Cream, Raspberry Sorbet
“Dessert” was hazelnut cake, toasted almond cream, raspberry sorbet. This looked huge but both the cake and the sorbet were really light. I even liked the cream despite not being really a fan of cream.

There were also fantastic truffles at the end but I didn’t get a photo as my lift home was about to leave.

The Clandestine Gourmet provides not just your usual supper club fare, this was superb, sophisticated and consistent cooking. They describe themselves as a “popup restaurant” and that description fits but with BYOB. Highly recommended.

Eat Cambridge: Plate Lickers Brunch

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Plate Lickers Supperclub, run by The Afternoon Tease and Miss Igs. For Eat Cambridge, the pair decided to serve brunch, in two sessions of 30 covers each, in the depths of the Guildhall.
The simple tables were set up among rafters, slanted ceilings and antique, wrought-iron stairs, fitting with the supperclub’s retro theme.

Plate Lickers Brunch at Eat Cambridge

This was the menu:

Plate Lickers Brunch at Eat Cambridge

The brunch went like this:

Plate Lickers Brunch at Eat Cambridge

Bloody Maries

Yoghurt, homemade granola, roast rhubarb compote

Avocado&Feta mash, streaky bacon on toast

Baked eggs & Shakshuka

Marmite/cheese scroll, banana bread, praline twist

Great food, excellent company and lovely hosts, what more could you want?

More photos on flickr

In related Eat Cambridge news, Jo aka The Afternoon Tease is running a pop-up cake shop on Saturday the 16th. For details click the link.