Forgotten Grapes Supper Club
The Forgotten Grapes supper club transported us back to Basque – the magical historic region of Northern Spain where we were lucky enough to visit last year. Based in South London this unique supper club duo are handsome young things; Felix the sommelier and James the chef and medical graduate, who host monthly food and wine evenings celebrating the world’s forgotten wine regions.
We were greeted with a lush sherry and orange slice aperitif with a pintxos of salty anchovy, green olive and pimiento that could have come straight off any of the bar tops in San Sebastián. We knew an exciting culinary evening was in store for us!
With all 12 guests seated in the conservatory dining room, the evening kicked off with moreish pulpo gallego – like scattered treasure on a plate, ‘coins’ of octopus were sprinkled with paprika and drizzled in olive oil before a satisfying black squid ink risotto joined it. Accompanying was a refreshing Bodegas Ameztoi as recommended by Felix whilst he enthusiastically pointed to the appropriate region on his educational Basque wall map.
Next we bit through the perfectly toasted skins of pimiento padron (padron peppers) which prepared us for the most delicious oxtail I’ve ever tasted. Topped with red onion, the rich, slow cooked meat melted in the mouth and the toasted bread it was served on eagerly soaked up the succulent meat juices. Felix paired this perfectly with a hefty oaky Ramon Bilbao Rioja, such a unique and balsy flavour, we just have to get a bottle (or two) of this stuff!
James then slapped us with spicy ribs with slaw matched with a fruity Guimaro Mencia red wine. Now you would think the ribs would be the star of this dish? But for me it was the slaw! Don’t get me wrong the spicy sesame sprinkled ribs were finger licking good (literally) and there was nothing but bone left on my plate but the slaw was, to quote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; truly scrumptious. Mixed with parsley and honey, this was unlike any red cabbage I have ever tasted before, sweet, crunchy, herby and not vinegary at all. Delicious enough to eat on it’s own.
A Basque burnt cheesecake and roasted cherries soon descended from the heavens with a sweet Moscatel wine. Lighter and more airy than the regular kind, the cheesecake was so damn delicious, (or perfectly swallowable as I described it on the night) that I’m genuinely annoyed I don’t have a slice in front of me right now! This along with the oxtail and the red cabbage slaw have to be my personal faves of the night.
With a final offering of Northern Spanish cheese with quince, Forgotten Grapes put on a unique show of food and wine. It was a nice touch to have a sommelier stay throughout the meal and Felix really knows his stuff. On a wine tour it’s so easy to get lost in the detail as you guzzle one sample after another and you usually have to imagine which food would match. But having Felix explain each wine whilst we tasted James’s dishes totally made the food and wine pairing make sense.
As for James, the food was delicious and worthy of any restaurant in gastronomic Donostia/San Sebastián. James could well be a professional chef, each course was made with passion, fresh ingredients and stayed true to its Basque roots. If you closed your eyes you could be back in Borda Berri or any one of the other amazing pintxos bars in the old town of San Sebastián. These guys are truly talented, entertaining and hosted an awesome supper club night!
I wonder which region they will host next? Wherever it is it’s guaranteed to be good!