I was invited to my first supper club by Alissa Timoshkina of KinoVino: an elegant, candlelit affair. I loved the concept of talking to food-loving strangers while tasting a menu that is prepared with thought and love. This pre-empted Alissa asking me to cook for a KinoVino event myself, as part of the Polish Film Festival: a crazy and magical event, during which the seed for A Slavic Tale was planted.
As a good friend once told me, you need keep watering the seed and eventually it will grow… and so it was with A Slavic Tale. Of course, my personality tried to rush that seed, but the situation forced me to wait, of which I was so glad eventually, because the concept of my supper club changed and blossomed with time. To allow ideas to brew like this seems to be wise: a strong concept needs time to develop. I’m forever trying to learn this lesson.
What started off as an idea for a supper club showcasing my style of Polish food, turned into a vegetarian Polish/East European supper club not only demonstrating my fresh take on Polish food, but also focussing on stories, exploring the folklore, Slavic culture and the old ways…
A Slavic Tale launched on Summer Solstice – 21st June – and we celebrated Wianki, a Polish folk celebration which can last about 3 or 4 days over the solstice weekend. You can read more about it in this article I wrote for the Guardian Cook magazine. This is what we ate and drank:
Żubrówka and Elderflower welcome cocktail
Rye bread with wild mushroom pâté and “gzik” – homemade ferments
Botwinka soup made from young beetroot leaves and stalks, spiced with chilli beet kvass (served cold)
Semolina “little hooves” – dumplings with a herb and wild mushroom sauce
Cardamon cream cake – Karpatka – with red fruit
Prune and dark chocolate truffles with cardamon vodka shot
The wreath making tradition was upheld by Lynne (the amazing owner of You Don’t Bring Me Flowers), who did a demonstration after the main course, and gave each table big wreaths and wild flowers to play with. The smell in the shop was incredible, as people chatted and weaved dried flowers into their wreaths.
So it sounds like everything was perfect and I came up smelling of roses? Well, sort of, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t hard and that mistakes weren’t made. First of all, I rocked up at 5.45pm, 15minutes before the cafe closes, with about 10-12 big boxes/bags and my portable hob. I immediately realised that I didn’t have anywhere to cook. This place – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – is so magical, that this tiny detail didn’t bother me in the slightest before…until I actually needed to cook that is, and then – panic. There’s no kitchen. I found a terrace though with an electrical socket – the ideal place to cook in the summer in the turns out. In the winter… well, we shall worry about that when we get there. You see how my thinking lands me in trouble.
The second issue of the night – everyone was coming at 7pm. Oh my gosh, I was kicking myself for this! An hour is not enough to clean up, sort all the tables out, make sure everyone can actually fit, and do table settings, sort snacks and cocktails. Next time, it will be 7.30pm so I can actually pimp the tables a bit too, and I’m not sure if this is enough time either. This brings me to the next supper club – on 2nd August. This time we will be celebrating Harvest time or Dożynki.
I wanted to do another supper club before I go away to Poland for August and September, in order to improve on the last one, to keep the wonderful momentum going and to make the most of this special time of the year. You can see the menu on the event page and as I’m writing this, there are exactly 2 tickets left – maybe see you there?