Some Like It Hot - 18 Chillis In One Night Of Pure Foodie Joy
To start the new year with a bang Bongo & I booked to go to The Gourmet Gays first supper club of 2016. Some of you may recall we broke our supper club virginity with them last year and were mightily impressed with both the hosting skills and the imaginative food. So we were expecting nothing less than fine dining...and boy oh boy these boys did not disappoint!
On arrival we were treated to a Chilli Martini made with fresh green Thai chillis (100,000-225,000 Scoville) which was beautifully made by Carl, with a background kick of chilli and was worthy of the cocktail menu at The Alchemist in Manchester! Manny savoured his slowly whilst mine didn't last long sadly. I could have drunk about a dozen of them and then rolled home.
It was time to sit at the beautifully presented table with the other guests as we got to know them whilst munching the delectable "Ring of Fire" Popcorn (70,000-85,000 Scoville). It was at first hot, then sweet with a hint of cinnamon (don't quote me on that) and really got the mouth salivating and the start of flushed cheeks around the table!
The next course was "Jalapeno, Guajillo, Ancho" little boats of delight - baked bacon poppers with an ancho crumb. The smokey flavour was delicious with a hint of Mexican Chilli that made me want to stab the other diners in the hand with a fork and make off with the whole plate - I did not want to share! Jalapenos as you know are a mild chilli, 1,000-20,000 Scoville, Anco are 1,000-2,000 Scoville but have a really piquancy to them and by adding them to the crumb made for a great combination with the cheese.
One of the reasons that we chose to go to this was that Stephen's philosophy of chillis is directly in line with ours - that heat of chillis is a given but it's exploring the flavours that is the most fun. As with our recipes and chilli condiments, it's never about a smack of chilli that numbs your mouth but rather about the flavour you can bring to the table by using chilli.
The next course was one of my highlights of the night: "Chile De Arbol" a delicious and subtle soup of roasted mushrooms, tomato and garlic topped with an avocado cream and served with cheese and corn bread. It was light, delicate with a background heat of chilli ( Arbol 15,000-30,000 Scoville) that was a dance on the palate. It was an amazing group of tastes and as one guest remarked "the temperature combination is brilliant." It was the type of dish that made you want to have a bucket of it and (unlike most soup courses) didn't make you feel full and heavy.
Following that was "Lamb Momo, Sichuan dipping sauce served with a Daikon and carrot salad." Perfectly executed, beautifully made and whilst the lamb dumpling was the star of the show it was the Sichuan dipping sauce that was it's superhero cape! This garlicky, hot and creamy sauce was the perfect accompaniment. (As you may or may not know the Sichuan Peppercorn is neither a pepper or a chilli but actually comes from a type of Ash Tree and has a lemony, peppery aroma and depending on how heavy handed you are, can be bloody hot! I'd give it an approximate 100,000 Scoville somewhere in between a Birds Eye and a Habanaro)
Immediately following this was another star of this menu: "Gochugang" Korean mince, coconut crepes pancakes and a Korean sashimi salad." As I wrote in my notes "WOW! This is the best thing ever I need the recipe!" A light and fluffy pancake, filled with minced turkey cooked in Gochujang - a spicy, savoury and pungent Korean chilli paste made from red chilli (10,000-30,000 Scoville), glutinous rice, fermented soyabeans and salt. Yummy! The spoon of joy next to it was salmon sashimi (freshly caught in Cornwall that morning) mixed with the Gochugang and was that a smattering of Kalonji over the top. It was an amazing course!
How can there possibly be more you ask? Well next we headed to Turkey for "Urfa - prawns, sun-dried tomatoes and butter served in a little gem leaf." The Urfa Biber chilli (50,000 Scoville) is a dark crimson, almost black pepper with a warm smokey flavour and perfect with fish or shellfish - and it was! I love prawns at the best of times and this dish didn't last long!
An amazing tower of "Rocoto" was next (one of the best things, apart from the taste, of attending The Gourmet Gays Supper Clubs is the fabulous presentation of their dishes, from the dressing of a plate to the unwrapping of a side dish, thought, effort and creativity goes into every course). "Nikkei style chicken thighs, quinoa, mint and a bean and okra salad." Peruvian Rocoto chilli is 125,000-250,000 Scoville and has a bitterness to it when eaten in it's uncooked state, however, Stephen had made this into a sauce of delight. Dismantling this glass tower and tasting the dishes inside was really fun - kinda like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning!
Before the following course we were given the chance to opt out as here came the hottest course of the evening....we all stayed in - how could you not? "The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne" consisted of a blend of Naga (1,001,304 Scoville!!!!!!!) Devil's Penis (855,000 - 2,199,000 Scoville!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), Chipotle (3,000 - 10,000 Scoville) and Kasmiri (8,000-12,000 Scoville). Yes it was hot! I couldn't eat all of mine...however Bongo finished off his, mine and Kirsten's! There was much calling for extra yogurt and water around the table, many gasps of shock and mopping of brows! And it was totally worth it! Yes it was hot to eat however the flavour was intense, smokey and delicious. The side order of lime and coriander yogurt was delicious too and went perfectly with this bad boy chilli con carne.
The first dessert course, and one to put out the fire was "Cucumber and Mint Ice Cream" topped with piece of salted liquorice that was heavenly! It's a taste combination I never could have thought of and the shot glass filled with a Spritz Jelly gave a really comforting cuddle of jelly and ice cream - appreciated completely after the shock of Devil's Penis!
And finally.... coffee served with our very own "Chilli chocolate Cup Cake, Caramel Liquorice Cream" and a sparkly fondant chilli on the top. BEAUTIFUL! At first you tasted the liquorice at the front of the palate, then the salted caramel and then the sweet nutmeg and cinnamon of the moist, soft cake.
Very clever work chaps - well done to you both! It was an extraordinary meal, expertly hosted - made even more so by the knowledge that Stephen made all of the recipes up himself from his own foodie creativity.
As for us.....I'm sitting on Twitter waiting for the announcement of the next supper club! We can't wait to see what Stephen and Carl will do next but one thing's for sure - it will be a wonderful night out with great company, remarkable food and a meal to delight and astonish!
We'd highly recommend you book tickets to their next supper club and find out more about The Gourmet Gays here: