Swap a Stuffy Dinner for a Sybaritic Supper
The difference between supper and dinner, loo and toilet, pudding and dessert and napkin and serviette is something that still confounds me. I do know though that you should never ask a French waitress for a serviette. I tried this once in my best GCSE French. She asked, in perfect English, whether I was sure I really needed a sanitary towel with my moules frites. Oh how my mates LOL’d.
My mother, the self styled Hyacinth Bouquet of East Anglia, would be the perfect person to ask but we fell out 20 years ago over an incident with a boy and a penis. Equally, there are no obvious debutants to tap up in this hipster coffee shop and so I sit here none the wiser. My working theory however is that dinner is a grand affair with straight backs, pursed lips and arched eyebrows. Mummy is that you?
Whilst supper is more of a lip smacking, hair flicking, elbows on the table, boozy love-in. My theory was confirmed last night under the arches in Bethnal Green at a supper hosted by Renegade London Winery and chef duo Klose & Soan. Warwick, owner of Renegade, was our rambunctious host for the night.
He quit his city job in 2016 to set up an East London artisanal winery that breaks from the protocol of traditional wine making. Here they mix grapes from different countries. Quelle horreur! And age the wine in a variety of wood including cherry, chestnut and even old bourbon barrels.
“A lot of wines can be very messed around with and have lots of artificial ingredients added. We are trying to do almost nothing to them to preserve their purity and just let them speak for themselves” says Warwick, over a glass of spicy pinot noir. Their chief winemaker is a Kiwi of Villa Maria provenance who’s experience has enabled Warwick and the team to have already produced five white, four red and four sparkling wines, many using English grapes.
Pinot topped up, I made my way to one of six long tables that nestled between the wine making gear and prepared myself for some lip smacking. As there was a seating plan there wasn’t the usual jostle to try and sit next to the hottest people. Is it just me that does that? My fellow supper clubbers were a refreshing mix of bright young things, well to do foodies and Len, a former boxer and three times divorcee from Harrow sporting a full knuckle duster of sovereign rings.
We all introduced ourselves whilst tearing at some warm spongy sour dough bread made by the Klose Soan boys that morning. First up was a selection of sharing plate starters. Cured sea bream with homemade horseradish, Pheasant, ricotta and dandelion and finally home grown Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts and Stilton. We all agreed the sea bream, cured to a perfectly delicate firmness and flavour, was the highlight. Apart from Len. He didn’t like any of it.
Despite serving up a hearty main course of pheasant and pork sausage with roast pumpkin, I switched to white wine. Yes red would have suited the food better but Warwick had been banging on about their Sauvignon Blanc and I was keen to try it. This was supper after all and I was pleased to note a complete absence of eyebrow arching.
I’m getting better at wine. I’ve always been excellent at drinking it but since I now spend half the year in Bordeaux, an understanding of flavours I like and dislike has seeped in by osmosis. I liked Warwick’s sauvignon. Thankfully it didn’t pack the overpowering grapefruit punch the sauvignon that his winemaker’s previous employer delivers. It was more subtle, with a limey minerality that gave it a dangerously drinkable freshness. Len didn’t like it.
By the time the steamed apple and bramble sponge with roast chestnut and apple brandy had arrived we were all sozzled, and sharing far too much information. I’m pretty sure Philippa a private chef to the rich and famous, shouldn’t have told us that story about David Bekham. No matter, we were all firm friends now. Well, on instagram at least.
Polishing off the pudding (or is it desert?) I timidly asked Len what he thought. He liked it! A communal cheer roared up from the table, the love-in complete.