Monday, 1 November 2010

Fame at the Basement!! (And our 2nd Supper).

The dining room is darkened. Silence.
The sudden low electrical hum as a spotlight suddenly appears in the centre of the floor, dust pirouettes lazily in the glow.
An appreciative gasp from the audience as I stride into the limelight, contemptuous of the stir I've just caused. I strike a pose, and hold it. Clad head to toe in a body hugging black Lycra catsuit, my athletic dancer outline broken only by my leg warmers and the stick I use to beat on the floor for emphasis as I spit out "Fame costs, and right here is where you start paying"...I strike a 'jazz hands' position. The audience gasps, then hushed silence as strange rhythmic music, played on a bongo begins to drift out of the darkness.
I begin my routine with a daring crotch splitting high kick and spin...

*Sound of a needle skidding across the track*

No silly people.
Not the 1980's TV Show 'Fame'!

The fame that comes from having a recipe from Montpelier Basement featured in Xanthe Clay's column in The Telegraph. And, if that wasn't enough, Fiona Beckett the new Guardian wine columnist (and food writer) coming to our second supper and giving us a stonking write up on her blog, kind of fame!
To say 'E' and I are chuffed silly would be a complete understatement. Cheesy grins, high-fives and backslaps all round.

Although, not quite as good as me dancing gracefully in a body hugging leotard I think you'll all agree, but it's up there.... it’s certainly up there.

So, the second supper was superb (has a nice ring to it don’t you think?)
As you can see, the final menu featured pumpkin in every course (as it was Halloween...err...almost), but it was all quite subtle.

The Montpelier Basement - Saturday 30th October.

Sherry served with Gorwydd Caerphilly, thyme, chilli and pumpkin dust gougère

Bertinet rustic rye bread with West Country butter

Pumpkin and sage soup with deep fried sage, brown butter and chilli

Baked Cornish haddock with pumpkin crust, leeks and white wine sauce.

Onglet with pumpkin jam and polenta chips
Mushroom and Old Demdike tatin with thyme, chestnuts and squash

Spiced pumpkin and pecan cake with mascarpone, honey and toasted pecans

And finally,
Gorwydd Caerphilly and Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout Rarebit

Quite an adventurous menu I'd say, given that we only have a domestic kitchen to crank it all out from. We had all eleven guests seated at one table stretching the length of the room, rather than split up onto separate tables. The problem with this arrangement is how to get eleven plates of food out all at once, and all hot with only limited hob and oven space. But with careful planning, flow charts, pie charts, spreadsheets and a white board, 'E' managed to drill into my dense skull exactly how this could be achieved. But more about that later.

Before our guests arrived, we'd laid the table, lit the wood fire which was roaring away, throwing a nice warm flicker around the room, lit the candles and finally - as it was Halloween (well almost) we'd borrowed a projector and had old black and white horror films playing on one of the dining room walls. It worked really well and added a really superb atmosphere to the dining room.

First up - the Gorwydd Caerphilly, thyme, chilli and pumpkin dust gougère, which we served as nibbles with sherry. The basic gougère recipe I've blogged before here, but we substituted Caerphilly for Cheddar, added some Thyme and dusted with chilli flakes and blitzed toasted pumpkin seeds.

After some beautiful Bertinet rye bread, we served a small portion of pumpkin and sage soup ('E' now has her own blog, and has helpfully put the recipe up here). We decorated this with chilli flakes and deep fried sage leaves .

Next, we were both especially pleased with the baked Cornish haddock with pumpkin crust, leeks and white wine sauce. It looked really elegant and tasted incredible (we made an extra portion for ourselves). It was actually a bastardised Gary Rhodes recipe from my old favourite 'New British Classics'. He uses Halibut and serves it in much bigger portions.

We had one vegetarian diner, and 'E' had made them a superb Mushroom and Old Demdike tatin with thyme, chestnuts and squash. We'd used a mixture of chestnut mushrooms, Portobello and for added luxury (it was an alternative to steak after all) sliced fresh ceps. This was layered through with Old Demdike cheese and thyme. We served it with the same pumpkin jam (Made the previous night) and polenta chips that we served with the Onglet.

The steak presented us with something of a problem. How to cook eleven massive slabs of Onglet, and then rest them.... to serve all at the same time, hot with only four hobs. Helpfully, the head chef at Source Food Hall & Cafe presented the solution to us. Pre-sear the Onglet first, and then whack all of it on a baking tray, covered with foil into the oven and cook until medium rare. A technique that worked beautifully. (Source incidentally supplied us with both the freshest Cornish Haddock, as well as the superb Onglet and Ceps).

Unfortunately, not everything was as easily worked around. The Polenta chips that we served with the onglet were a hell of a lot of work to flour, egg, and coat in panko then fry in small batches. But with head's down and working methodically we ploughed through it.

With the polenta chips fried, me frantically slicing the now rested steak and 'E' artistically smearing the plates with pumpkin jam and plating up, we managed to get the hardest course out. High Five!

Breathing a sigh of relief, and knocking back a celebratory glass of red we plated up the beautifully moist Spiced pumpkin and pecan cake with mascarpone, honey and toasted pecans which 'E' has made the previous evening (recipe here).
I drizzled with honey and artistically scattered toasted pecans whilst 'E' expertly shaped the mascarpone quenelles.

Pudding served we left the confines of the kitchen to sit with our guests, drink as much booze as we could lay our hands on and generally relax a bit and enjoy the atmosphere, with just a brief visit back to the grill to make the final course of Rarebit.

Everything, (surprisingly) had gone extremely smoothly, no tourette like streams of swearing, no panicked shouting and no screams, all of which have so often been the hallmarks of my dinner parties. Just fairly calm hustle in the kitchen.

With the majority of our guests waving unsteady goodbyes at around 1:30am, 'E' and I declared the second supper a bloody good evening, left the mess to clear up in the morning and crawled drunkenly upstairs to bed.

If you fancy attending a future supper at The Montpelier Basement, or would like to be added to our mailing list then send us an email at

We have at least two more dates planned for 2010, the 13th November and 27th November. (And possibly one more date in early December).
We’d love to see you.


Lynne said...

Oh Dan, this is such a success.. you two really deserve it :)

Gourmet Butcher said...

Wow it sounds like a really great evening! Fantastic sounding menu and with the use of that projector it looks like you created a fab atmosphere to match the dishes! Good work to you and "E"!!

Dan said...

Lynne - Thanks very much. Was quite stressful with two such highly regarded foodies, Xanthe and Fiona eating at 'The Basement'. But, they both really enjoyed it and were incredibly complimentary and positive. Chuffed!!

Gourmet Butcher - Thanks! Glad you like the menu, and the projector worked brilliantly to create a really nice spooky atmosphere.

millerdesignuk said...

me next... me next!!!

Fernandez & Leluu said...

Hey Dan
Congratulations! Great menu too - pics look so lovely. Sounds like a great evening and thanks so much for the tip with the steaks! Must try that one day : )
Hope we get to pop by one day

@LucMartin said...

This looks great. I've done this once or twice for friends but I've been thinking about trying it for strangers as well... How did you get started, i mean, where did you find your first paying guests? Assuming of course that you make them pay...

The Ample Cook said...

Well done you two. Fabulous looking food. You must have worked very hard.

The projector idea was genius!

meemalee said...

Sounds brilliant, well done guys!

I tell you what, I'm glad I had a full brigade behind me for my pop-up, because a hands-on supperclub like this is not my idea of fun, but you two seem like pros already :)

Next one should be Fame themed - though E would look better than you in a leotard methinks ...

Dan said...

MillerDesignUK - Really looking forward to seeing you at the next one on the 13th!

Fernandez & Leluu - Awww thanks, that means a lot coming from you guys! Likewise, I can't wait to get over to your supper club. I've heard so many amazing things. x

LucMartin - We are 'Foodies' and pimped it on Twitter - that's all there was to it. Paid - yes :) It's a 'suggested donation' of £25.

The Ample Cook - Thanks Jan! We did work extremely hard, as you can probably guess, catering being your profession ;)
The Projector was my idea, of course. (High Five...anyone? anyone?).

Meemalee - Thanks a lot madam. Hahaha I think I'd like a full brigade to help out, but the kitchen isn't big enough. Oh, and no one looks better than me in a leotard....NO ONE!!

Jonathan said...

Congratulations! Awesome stuff. But let's not beat about the bush. Can we see photos of you in a leotard?

Anonymous said...

Going to liaise with Fiona and come down - soon. A few sherberts in the Corrie tap the night before, perchance? J

Dan said...

Jonathan - Thanks mate. Photos of me in a leotard in the next post where I explore the mysteries of avant garde dance and West Country cheese.

JamesRamsden - That would be superb dude, but the Corrie tap the night before? surely that's asking for trouble. Nevertheless - I am up for that!

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness that haddock looked amazing. Well done on the great reviews!

PDH said...

Erotic dance imagery aside, I'm really glad it's going well for you. Will check out the reviews of your place when I get a chance as well... work beckons!

Dan said...

Gourmet Chick - Hey thanks very much!

Pavel - Thank you mate. Oh you have to check out the reviews!

*Side Note*
We've just announced two new dates:-
Friday 26th November
Saturday 4th December

Hope to see some of you there!

Emma Jay said...

YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM Dan, that sounded delicious! I cannot wait to head to Montpe'ller soon, drive! Well done, you have both worked so hard :)

miss south said...

Wow, sounds like you guys are a force to be reckoned with already...

Great minds on the beetroot pesto. We had a similar recipe using cobnuts on our blog back in September. Bloody lovely it was too!