All this healthy eating I’ve been doing has been great. The pounds are slowly dropping, the inches are slowly counting down and I’ve been hitting the gym almost daily.
But I know that there are a whole host of supper clubs and dinners I’m missing out on. Either a) because they’re on a Saturday and Saturday night has become sacrosanct and an early to be night, or b) because the food on offer is going to be far too naughty for me to enjoy. So I wondered…
Can you do a healthy supper club?
And, can you make it just as much fun and just as tasty?
It turns out, I wasn’t alone in my curiosity, so cue a text message to that bastion of supper clubs, Iain Devine – aka the Drunken Butcher. Never one to walk away from a challenge, he stepped up to the mark and arranged ‘New Year’s Resolution’ a night specifically for all of us on that particular wagon.
The club was, as ever, held in Iain’s home in Sale. Welcomed warmly, fellow blogger Cheryl and I were soon chatting with the other guests and feeling comfortably at home.
Our first course, chilled red pepper soup and cucumber granita arrived beautifully presented. The granita, crisp, delicately sweet and fruity was refreshing and a stunning palate cleanser – setting us up perfectly for the evening. The chilled red pepper soup, was rich, almost creamy in texture, but when quizzed, the ingredients were simple, peppers a touch of oil, seasoning and water. No hint of butter or cream, the flavour certainly didn’t suffer.
Chilli pickled vegetables in broth was our second course. The vegetable broth, enhanced with bonito flakes for their richness, was delicious, and coupled with warm chilli and crisp pickled vegetables, it was an infinitely satisfying dish.
Onto our third course, and something a little different. Rich salmon paired with apple in two forms. Firstly a rich apple puree and a shredded apple salad.
I have to admit, the puree didn’t quite work for me and I’m not altogether certain why. It should work, but I was much, much more satisfied with the salad. The creamy salmon paired with the crisp sharpness made the mouth water and was again a satisfying dish, enhancing the sweetness of the salmon flesh.
Our penultimate course, chicken “bo ssam” was probably my favourite. The idea is simple, shredded chicken breast, vegetables and accompaniments, such as coriander, ginger, soy sauce and chopped nuts, to be eaten from lettuce cups.
But it was genius – and something I’ve since recreated and will again and again. The act of digging in and helping yourself is as ever a great way to get chatting with fellow guests, but the satisfaction in being able to eat to your fill because everything can be eaten without guilt or worry about there being too much sugar or too much fat was liberating. Unsurprisingly we all tucked in with gusto.
Our dessert course was cherry and almond clafoutis with cherry sorbet. A lovely way to end the evening, with a portion of crisp Yorkshire pudding style batter, and juicy cherries, alongside a soft sorbet.
A fantastic way to end the evening, the dish was scraped clean – it was comfort food made light, not too sweet, not too heavy. Just what we needed to fill the last gaps in our appetite.
So, it really is possible to have a supper club, or even a dinner party, with a healthy twist and go home satiated. True, you’re not rolling home, over stuffed, to spend the journey home wondering why you had that last piece of potato/meat/pie/dessert, but you spent a night in great company, with great food and a healthy waistline.
I’ll take that.