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Dining in: Sauce Supper Club Dine at Home

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was…

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was on 1 May that they delivered their first Dine at Home boxes in partnership with Tom Shepherd. The former head chef at one Michelin starred Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham is planning to open his own restaurant in Lichfield later this year.

Each weekend there’s a different fine dining menu for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, with minimal effort required. This week, Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is reviewed for us by passionate Stoke-on-Trent-based foodie, Mike Lawton. Mike shares his thoughts on the food and considers whether it’s truly possible to recreate the restaurant experience at home.

The menu

Milk bread with marmite butter
.
Pulled barbecue pork fritter, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots, watercress
.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder, tenderstem broccoli, toasted couscous, cumin yoghurt, imam bayildi, pomegranate, lamb jus
.
Chilled coconut rice pudding, Alfonso mango salsa, coconut crumble, lemongrass and lime leaf sabayon
.
Chocolate fudge

In any business environment, it’s the innovators who survive; those who make the most of the situation and are able to adapt to changes in a way that suits their skillset. I think the emergence of ‘Dine at Home’ experiences plays very well into that; opening up new channels for consumers to create experiences in their own homes is a perfect example of innovation and will no doubt be a feature of the industry in the future.

When we first spoke about doing this review, I’d already had a couple of these types of experiences, from WOOD Manchester and from Peels on Wheels at Hampton Manor. To do the same with Sauce Supper Club and Tom was a great opportunity to compare the offers of three very credible contenders.

The experience began on Friday morning at 7:30am when the package was delivered to our door. Just to receive it was intriguing: excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm delivered in a cardboard box – that doesn’t happen every day!

The first thing I have to applaud the team on is the packaging. Today it’s really important to think about sustainability and how we respect the planet’s resources. The product packaging was genuinely thoughtful, not just in terms of what was in it, but in the way it was presented, including the use of fully recyclable WoolCool insulation.

Dine at Home box constituents

At the forefront of your mind when ordering a meal like this is, can you create a restaurant experience in your own home? What can it deliver? Is it going to be the same? How authentically can an amateur re-create the skills of a chef at home? There is an inferred responsibility – you want to perform well for yourself but also to represent the chef and their team’s hard work in preparing the food.

Inside the box is the skill, the enthusiasm, the knowledge and dedication of the chef in the product. It then comes down to you to engineer that into your own experience, using your knowledge of where you’ve eaten, what you’ve observed, what you like and what you dislike.

Of course, the end result is not the same, but I would argue it can be better because you’re able to apply your own influences to that of the chef – you can give your own care, attention and creativity. When expressed in these terms this is in no way a degraded experience – it’s a different experience influenced by you. It’s a fusion of chef and customer that presents a blend of skill and experience on each plate – it’s a chance to express your personality in the solid knowledge that the food quality will be assured.  

We received the box on the Friday and decided not to cook it until the Saturday. It was unpacked and we stored it in the fridge. It kept beautifully for 24 hours – plenty of time to plan, no need to rush. Adding to the experience was that every time I opened the fridge there was a thrill of anticipation, thinking ‘Ohh, look what’s coming!’ – it played an unexpected role in making the dinner special. 

Then Saturday night came and my wife and I laid everything out in the containers. It was very clear what to do because each of the courses had a colour-coded dot. The instructions were well-presented, very clear and concise, and enabled you to plan ahead. We switched on the oven and the fun began.

The first step was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done; I warmed up the bread. The difference – and this is where the value of this experience lies for me – is the skill you find in the detail. Although the bread was of course delicious, it was the marmite butter that created an incredible depth of flavour and taste – unbelievable to be able to create that in something so usually “ordinary”. That was a fitting precursor for what was to come. 

Milk bread with marmite butter

Whilst we were enjoying the bread, the pork fritters went into the oven and we laid out the mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots and watercress. Each element when tasted individually was well-prepared and delicate – together it was genuinely tremendous. The fritter was very easy to warm up. I used my Thermapen to check the temperature was right inside, and it came out crisp on the outside with great flavour and depth on the inside. Paired with the little apricots and mustard mayonnaise, we didn’t want it to end. I’m sure Tom would laugh at my basic plating skills, but the dish was a great mix of textures and flavours and we both really enjoyed it. We enjoyed a white Côtes du Rhône which paired beautifully with the construction of the dish.  

The lamb was a benchmark main course in terms of the combination of flavours and textures. The North African inspiration was clear to taste and smell; it came with couscous and imam bayildi, which I hadn’t heard of before, but is a Turkish aubergine dish. It was fantastic. The smell coming from the kitchen was like walking through a souk on a warm summer evening; with aromas of spices wafting through the warm confined streets. The lamb was beautifully prepared, compressed and rolled, perfectly ready for simply placing on a baking sheet and waiting for the magic to happen.

As ever, the winning part was in the detail, in the lamb jus. Wow. That’s the bit that you can’t create at home. It was truly phenomenal. All the science, the skill, the experience, and the professionalism of the chef comes in those little pots. This was a stand-out dish for me, not only because of the construction and the ease of bringing it together, but also because it demonstrated a complexity and depth in food that I could never have made myself.

Lamb, couscous, imam bayildi, broccoli

The dessert was spectacular. It was everything I want a dessert to be: rich, sweet, a beautiful texture. I’ve eaten at Adam’s a couple of times and had this dessert in the dining room there. The rice pudding was fantastic, the vanilla judged perfectly, the mango was delicious, and then there was the sweetness of the sabayon sauce… Just a beautiful balance. For me to have created that would have taken hours and hours of work and it wouldn’t have tasted anywhere close to that good. It was an absolute pleasure to serve it up, and it wasn’t difficult! All I needed was a plate and a spoon. I can’t speak highly enough of this dessert.

Throughout the lockdown I’ve tried to make the weekends special by trying to cook something a bit special – to make Saturdays different. These experiences really cater to that, they inspire you to be creative in the safe knowledge that if anything goes awry the food will carry the evening. If you’re in the house and you can’t get out, whether for lack of childcare or other commitments, you can be sure that this is definitely not second best. What you miss in the restaurant experience, you make up for with your own enthusiasm and dedication. It’s a perfect blend of creativity; yours and the chef’s.

I genuinely think these experiences should continue to be available once the hospitality industry returns to normal. Not only because it’s a revenue stream for restaurants, but also because it extends the restaurant or chef’s brand to new audiences who may never have found it accessible before. It’s a good introduction to bring people into fine dining, and a great way to involve the whole family in preparing food. The preparation and the plating became a talking point for my wife and I, creating possibly an even more engaging experience than eating in a restaurant.

It does make you appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and understand what you’re paying for, but at the same time this model allows consumers to enjoy and be inspired by this level of cooking. I was certainly inspired. I would do it again, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Ordering & delivery
Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is available for Friday and Saturday delivery, with prices starting from £37.50pp. Delivery is free to Lichfield and the surrounding area, with nationwide delivery now available at a charge of £24.

Order via saucesupperclub.co.uk.

 

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Gift ideas for a foodie Father’s Day

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s…

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s Day ideas across the Staffordshire food and drink scene so you can sit back, relax and simply enjoy some time with dad over a good meal (at an appropriate distance, of course)… without worrying about which pair of novelty slippers he’d like best.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop Father's Day Hamper

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe
If your dad is a lover of local Staffordshire produce, then this is the gift for him. The team at Denstone Hall Farm & Shop have released their ‘Staffordshire Father’s Day’ hamper, packed with local, homemade and artisan produce all sourced from Staffordshire. Expect Staffordshire Cheese Co., homemade pork pies and Cottage Delight treats. Order here: https://bit.ly/3egqo3q or email orders@denstonehall.co.uk

 

Candid Beer gift set

Candid Beer
Is it even Father’s Day without beer? Candid Beer, Stafford, have constructed the perfect gift this Father’s Day for craft beer lovers. Treat dad to a canister of four 440ml beers and a special Candid Beer glass. Choose from pale, dark, lager or mixed beers. Shop here: https://bit.ly/30Hke8M

Misco's box of chocolates

Misco’s Chocolate and Truffles
If your dad has a sweet tooth, he would love some delicious chocolatey treats from Misco’s Chocolates and Truffles, Leek. Their shop is now open (yessss!), so call in on Thursday, Friday or Saturday to pick up your dad’s favourite homemade chocolates and earn some brownie points this Father’s Day.

Dunwood Farm meat box

Dunwood Farm
Treat the King of the BBQ to a quality meat box from Dunwood Farm. Whether your dad is the chef or if you’re treating him to a day off and cooking for him, he will love the incredible quality of Dunwood’s high welfare meat. Head over to the online shop here: https://bit.ly/2MWbdAG or pop into The Village Butchers, Ipstones, to pick up your meat box.

Three Horseshoes Inn
Al fresco steak night, a bottle of wine and breathtaking views of the Peak District? Yes please! Although The Three Horseshoes Inn isn’t quite open yet, you can still treat your dad to their quality steak at a future date. The Three Horseshoes are offering a Steak Night for Two with a Bottle of Wine gift voucher, so you can treat dad a little later in the year. Head over to their online shop to purchase: https://bit.ly/2UILHmv

Bank Coffeehouse Alrewas afternoon tea

The Bank Coffeehouse
Nothing is better than a quintessential Afternoon Tea in the sun, especially with the ones you love. The Bank Coffeehouse are offering a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea this Father’s Day. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches with salad, a fruit scone with homemade jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and a bottle of Spilsbury & Jones craft beer. You can also have the choice to swap out the sandwiches, scone or cake for a Peter Coates pork pie on request. Delivery in Alrewas or you can collect. Call or text 07722 891696 or email Reilly-jane@sky.com to order.

Clive’s Wines
The lovely team at Clive’s Wines have crafted the perfect hampers for Father’s Day this year! Choose from five different hampers, including the Cider Curry Set and the Personalised Wine Gift Set set to name a couple. Head over to their website to find the perfect gift for your dad: https://bit.ly/37HTOp3

World of Wedgwood cheese scones, chilli jam, Dovedale blue butter

World of Wedgwood
Head Chef Richard has been busy behind the scenes at World of Wedgwood, cooking up the ultimate treat for dad this Father’s Day… savoury scones with homemade chilli jam and Dovedale blue butter. If you want to flex your culinary skills and impress dad with a homemade treat, this is the recipe for you: https://bit.ly/3cZuETz

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Dining in: Gallagher’s Home Kitchen

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to…

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to start new jobs in the hospitality industry at the end of that month, their plans were put on indefinite pause and they wanted to use their skills to offer fantastic quality food for home delivery. 

The couple met while they were both working at The Duncombe Arms in Ellastone. With Jessica’s background in hotel, event and restaurant management and Chris’ culinary expertise, they decided to fill their time during lockdown creating a homemade food service. 

Sauce jumped at the chance to try Gallagher’s Home Kitchen last week, coinciding with the launch of their new lamb baharat and falafel dishes. 

Ordering & delivery

Chris and Jessica’s menu is available to view on their social channels. There’s a different main on the menu for each day they’re open, from the lamb baharat and veggie-friendly falafel on Wednesday through to a traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. You also have the option to add dessert, which changes every month. All you have to do is direct message them on Facebook to place your order, and pay via BACS transfer. Then Jessica will deliver to your door if you’re lucky enough to live within a 9 mile radius of Cheddleton.

Packaging

The food arrives in a large paper bag for the mains and a smaller one for the dessert, with a sweet little printed message from the Gallaghers. The majority is in foil cartons and there’s minimal plastic, which is always a plus. It seems Chris and Jessica have really thought about how the dishes on their menu will travel, because everything is pristine when it arrives on the doorstep with a smile and a wave! The elements of the main course are packaged separately so you can taste them individually, sharing out and plating how you like. The main was warm rather than hot on arrival, but the temperature was fine for us and you could easily heat up the lamb, falafel and couscous if you wanted to. 

Lam and couscous from Gallaghers Home KitchenAppearance

The slices of slow-cooked spiced lamb and the portion of falafel were nestled inside freshly baked pitta bread, while other containers yielded a rainbow of salad (crunchy lettuce, delicate ribbons of cucumber, julienne carrot and red cabbage) and bright, beautiful couscous with lemon and coriander. You also get little containers of thick Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. We could hardly wait to get stuck in!

You wouldn’t think a panna cotta would fare very well in takeaway form, but they are nothing short of immaculate when we come to lift the lids on dessert. We didn’t attempt to lift these onto our plates but I’m fairly sure they were firm enough to have held their shape if we’d tried. 

Taste 

The lamb baharat was rich and smoky with spices. ‘Baharat’ is the name of a traditional spice blend used throughout the Arab world, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, but there are many regional variations. The falafel were tasty and well-seasoned too. The couscous was fragrant and delicious, with plenty of herbs, lemon, apricot, pepper and toasted flaked almonds making your taste buds do a happy little dance. The salad was super-fresh and the mango chutney was lush – tangy and sharply sweet with black onion seeds through it. 

And the dessert? Oh. My. Goodness. 

Greek yoghurt panna cotta from Gallaghers Home Kitchen

Texture

The falafel were made up of a nice mix of whole and ground chickpeas, with a great crispy exterior. The slow-cooked lamb was ridiculously tender, like butter in your mouth, but not cloyingly fatty as lamb sometimes can be. The pitta was a perfect match for both – soft and chewy with a satisfying bit of crunch at the edges. 

This dessert has every element you could wish for: unctuous and decadent salted chocolate ganache (I could eat this by the bowlful), creamy and slightly sour yoghurt panna cotta with the most beautiful of wobbles, tart and sticky apricot jam, and the sweet crunch of honey and oat granola cut through with fragrant rosemary. This really ups the delivery game when it comes to pudding.  

Experience

Overall, the food was fantastic quality and the whole experience felt special. The panna cotta dessert in particular was most definitely restaurant standard. At £10 each for the main and £5 each for dessert, with free delivery, we thought it was good value. It was super-easy to order, delivery was timely and safe, and the service was really friendly. What more can I say? 

Look out for our interview with Jessica and Chris coming soon, and get your orders in over on their socials.

Gallagher’s Home Kitchen
facebook.com/GallaghersHomeKitchen

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