Comfort and Spice Brunch Club

My first supper club experience, is at brunch. It’s a meal that’s close to an antipodean’s heart. On the weekends we like to go out, have someone else bring us eggs, flick through the papers and drink coffee. On special occasions, there is booze.

Today is a special occasion. The Comfort and Spice Brunch Club harks the soft launch of Niamh Shields’ cookery book. Niamh’s blog, eat like a girl has been one of my favourites since we moved to London.

The dual prospect of a sneak peak at the book and tasting her food (including her famed take on bacon jam), was too good to pass over. Even if it meant battling skateboard toting slouching teens outside Camden tube.

The notion of a supper, (or in this case brunch) club may be old hat in the UK, but it’s a relatively new experience for us.  It’s essentially an underground restaurant. It’s a little like inviting yourself along to someone’s dinner party, and paying for your meal.

Any initial awkwardness at turning up at the flat of someone you’ve never met and expecting to be fed is quickly absorbed by the offer of drinks on arrival. There are Bloody Mary’s, with plenty of kick. There are elderflower bellinis with Bisol prosecco. There’s straight prosecco. There’s pink prosecco. It’s all grand.

Soon there are eight of us flicking through the newspapers while the sun streams in from the garden, looking out at some recalcitrant cats (they came with the flat).

First up; Irish soda farls- a fluffy and lightly charred bread, made from flour, bicarb, salt and buttermilk.  To play along there is bacon jam and home churned butter. The bacon jam was everything we imagined, sweet and lightly sticky with a tenor of acidity and richness from the coffee the cured meat is cooked down in. Having this in the house could be a dangerous thing. I see lots of potential homes – stuffed inside French Toast, with a runny egg over the top being chief among them.

There’s also n’duja, the spiced spreadable meat paste from Calabria. It’s softening in Niamh’s n’duja pig- a musk-stick pink tea light candle contraption for rendering the paste to the right temperature.

The drinks are flowing and chat at the table is largely food and travel related. It’s terribly convivial. And there’s a startling proportion of Australians (we do like our brunch).

Next up; blaas, warm from the oven.

Blaas are an Indigenous Irish yeast bread, with a cap of flour and a downy soft interior. 

Then, a choice of two mains. For The Hungry One it’s Old Cotswold Legbar eggs on Brindisa Chorizo hash. For him this morning, there’s no such thing as too much pork.

For me it’s a serving of the beech wood smoked salmon from Frank Hederman on a chunky potato pancake with some vibrant slivers of  cucumber relish. The salmon is startlingly good.

By 12.45pm we’ve  possibly had too much booze for that this time of the day, but who are we to look generosity in the face?

Just as we’re scratching for something sweet, the next crew pour in the door, eager to begin their 1pm slot.

We collect our advance copies of the book and happily remember that just down the road lives  perfection in the form of Nitro Ice Cream at the Chin Chin Laboratorists.

A scoop of Alphonso mango with saffron and raspberry sauce, a dodge through the hoards at Camden market and then an afternoon relaxing on the couch reading through Niamh’s beautiful recipes.

It was the perfect combination of comfort and spice.

All of the menu items from the brunch club, plus many other stonkingly good ones are included in the book.

You can pre order Comfort and Spice here.

And if you’re lucky, she might still have spots for her brunch clubs tomorrow. Check here

{ 1 Comment }
  1. So sad I didn't get to go to this – sounds like great fun. I love that there were heaps of Australians!

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