Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happiness Is Knowing How To Celebrate

The question most people ask us is: "why do you do these supper clubs?"
We do it because it makes us happy.

Making lovely food, using good ingredients and enjoying what we are eating is the most primative thing we can do. What better than to do this and sharing it with others, loved ones, close ones, new friends, old friends, strangers… this has got to be one element of happiness – that we all want in abundance.
 A few weeks ago, our faithful friends tomeatsjencooks celebrated Tom’s 30th birthday at our supper club. It had got to be one of the most memorable nights at Fernandez & Leluu.

The door bell rang and in came all the girls stepping out of cabs dressed as members of The YMCA. Then the boys arrived all dressed in drag. The effort each person went through was astounding and so it should have been, in honour of their friend’s 30th birthday. Although it was amazingly surreal to face people dressed in costume (when you are not)– sometimes a bit frightening - What a night of great celebration, conquering happiness.
Here is what they had: (was too excited by all the costume and forgot to take any pictures of the food)

Best Of Junk

Pea & Ham Soup
When we first started the supper club – Simon & I both made each a different pea soup – for our best pea soup competition and blind tested it to a couple of people. I didn’t like it because I didn’t win – he did – and rightly so – this has got to be one of them most talked about dishes. It’s a Pea, Basil, Cream & White Wine based soup with Pork Scratchings and Parmesan Shavings.

Mini Ham Burgers
Simon’s Pork Burgers made from his terrine recipe – turned into burgers and shallow fried. Served inside Turkish bread with Cherry Tomatoes and Gems Lettuce

Fish & Chips
Fresh Sashimi Grade Tuna, with Uyen’s Ginger, Soy, Mirin & Wasabi Dressing, Simon’s Chips, Pickled Shallots and Wasabi Mayo

Sweet Potato Tortilla & Ferdie's Ketchup
Typically Spanish Fast Food – and one of Tom’s favourite things. Simon’s Spanish Omlette has got to be one of the delights in life with his spicy home made ketchup adding a small jump of joy – in the mouth.

Bacon & Egg

The egg is cooked to perfection and set in a Tarragon & Chicken Jelly and served with a  Bacon Pastry – that has Cream Cheese and Cheddar Cheese sizzling around in a swirl with Spring Onions.

Slow Roast Spring Lamb With Cous Cous
Our healthy version of a lamb kebab after a night of drinking and drinking and drinking…

Lime Mousse w/ Chilli Chocolate Topping
Something sharp to wake up the senses.

Our other very memorable event was held back in January, in the cold stark Winter. Tom’s dad had booked the whole place out – for no reason at all than just to enjoy good food and company- with 24 of his friends.

The memory of opening the door to your home to a queue of 25 stranger seniors in a formal line is one that will always bring a smile to my face.

And so does this picture - its got nothing to do with anything - just Simon looks very happy here:
Happiness is being with the people you love, people who love you and people you will love and love you back.

What is ever so rewarding for us is when someone really really enjoys what they have bitten into – perhaps a surprise, a delight, a recognition… good food brings out the best in us and makes us joyous and cheerful despite what we have on our shoulders.

Last week, Simon and I both decided that we needed a break, from each other and from some troubles – in general. So we both decided to go away, separately and gather some thoughts together. Without knowing where the other one was going or if anyone was going anywhere at all, we both went to Barcelona.

In Barcelona, of course, we bumped into each other and there, we figured how important good food and the environment you are in affects your moods and behaviour.

When we were in a dark room, we were not very happy, but as soon as we walked into the sunlight and our faces began to warm up, smiles broke all around. We found some great tapas places recommended by local people in bars where we ate wonderful bits of fillet steak, potatas bravas, gambas, and so on…
We found that through the succulence of each bite and as the flavours are bursting with exquisite relish in our mouths, we can see things much more differently and positively than if we hadn’t eaten these wonderful things. Should we have eaten greasy, rough bits of food, everything would be of the reverse and we would have been in a very bad mood.

A simple cup of tea and your feet up provides us with so many moments of joy and happiness. From being at home, tidying your garden and taking care of your plants to making a big celebration – even if its for the heck of it – (I got this from a Rom Com (that’s quite boring) but) sometimes, we just have to remind ourselves that “if life gives you a lemon, you can make it bitter or you can make lemonade”.

This post is inspired by a recent read called, 'Hector & The Search For Happiness' By Francois Lelord

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Thanks For Coming" Jim Haynes

Its been a week since we hosted an evening for After Eight’s new campaign featuring Supper Club maestro Jim Haynes in association with Qype. Every day since last week we have been reading so many great write ups about this event. Electric shock waves run through our bodies as I read out loud to Simon all the reviews and blog posts. Our faces light up instantly and we are chuffed by every kind word that is written, that is spoken or said.

Thank you so much.
We feel truly honoured to have been asked to host such an event with the wonderful Mr Jim Haynes. As previously mentioned, he has been holding his supper club for over thirty years. Over thirty years!!  (To those who ask how long do we think supper clubs will last – it seems like the good ones do – everybody loves a good party)

From talking to Jim at some length on the night as I was on front of house duty (yeay!), I found out that he is more than I expected. Not only does Jim ooze in charm and great charisma, Jim is inspirational as a human being, promoting peace, love and kindness to those standing nearby him with a smile or a giggle at the end of all his sentences. It is no wonder that people love to go to his supper clubs – it must be a place where one just feels really good!

What better, to go to a place and meet a bunch of people whom can end up being your life long friend, your wife or husband, your fling, your friend for now. Add in the atmosphere and good food and drink, makes a perfect present, a perfect memory.

For us, this is something that we will treasure forever. A perfect and beautiful milestone to the Uyen & Simon who sat back in the garden last summer, eating each other’s cooking, having who-makes-the-best-roast competitions to the ones who can not think of a better name for a supper club than that of our own, to the ones who couldn’t get anyone to come to the supper club to the ones who were asked to hold an evening with Jim Haynes for After Eight. – its like a dream we dare not dream coming true.

Simon & Chris During Prep
Johan from DinksFushion made utterly fantastic cocktails
We worked on this project for 2 weeks solid. It took about 4 days to get the flat in order, employing removal men to lift things, get rid of things to prepare for our supper club to be turned into the way Jim has his. No tables. You stand and mingle. We had to change a lot. Didn’t mind -  What a great idea!

The menu was dependent on fork only or finger food. And we were asked to do a slightly different format, three courses! This is what we decided to do:

Fresh Summer Rolls With Mint, Shredded Pork Skin, Barbequed Pork, 
Roast Pork Belly, Cured Vietnamese Ham, Sweet Basil & Lettuce.

Spring Rolls With King Prawns, Minced Pork, Black Fungus,
Carrots & Glass Noodles.

Pork & Chicken Liver Terrine On Ciabatta

Whole Prawns With Green Herbs Mayo & Salmon Caviar

Carrot & Corriander Salad With Shredded Chicken

These photographs by Kany Leong -  

Second Course
Carpaccio of Argentinian Beef Fillet Rolled in Black Pepper With Raspberry Jus
Mashed Garlic & Spring Onion Inside Baked Potato Skins
Lambs Lettuce In Olive Oil & Lemon
Garlic Foccacia

A Trifle Of Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding With Whisky Raisins, White Chocolate Custard & Strawberry, Raspberry & Blackberry Soaked in Cointreau

Chris & Lacey - cool love birds
We wanted to serve really successful dishes we have previously made. It was for Jim Haynes for goodness sakes! We wanted to do our famous Fish & Chips but due it being the Easter weekend, we could not get fresh fish that had just been out of the sea. We could have got fish but it would have been sitting in the Steve Hatts fridge for 3 days.

We planned the menu and times like a major operation. Simon composed a 7 page hit list of things to do, who does them, at what time and for how long. It was great! And we obliged to it with precision except the night before, Simon and I went out to the pub and indeed messed up on the timings somewhat the next day : /

But we did it, with help from our friends, Chris & Lacey (they’ve been to the supper club since the beginning – something like 4 or 5 times and now are our dear friends) and Claire from Green Onions Supper Club and her/ our waitress Lucy.

Before Jim arrived at 6pm, the atmosphere was calm yet electric in the kitchen. We were all so excited and proud to take part of such an event. We all felt so honoured to do this for Jim and for all the Qypers and bloggers who made it through to the list. We only wish that we had as much room as Jim and could have invited so many more you, and our friends too.
It was a very unique experience and such a great party. You can read all the blogs on your right about the evening. Great pictures from The London Eater, and lovely write ups from One Million Gold Stars & The Grubworm. You can visit Qype for more too. It was fantastic to meet bloggers and qypers that we have only met on Twitter and bonding face to face. There are great friendships to be made from this event.

Jim has been in contact with us, saying that his Sunday dinners are getting ever so popular. He had 100 guests last weekend after turning away 40! “I hate to say the word, ‘No’”. We hate it too –

Amongst some great advice about parties and how to deal with these supper clubs, one important lesson Jim taught me is ‘acceptance’ of people. People are who they are and you got to just accept them as they are. Also, to ‘look forward’ and never look back. Enjoy.

We gave him a doggie bag to take with him back to Paris of which he said he enjoyed the evening after. Jim has invited us to stay with him in Paris where we can cook for his supper club one Sunday. How exciting is that? Will keep you all posted.

We have traveled so far and we are so proud of ourselves too. We only hope that we can continue to meet the expectations generated by guests reviews of our food, thanks so much by the way, and yikes! We are loving what we are doing at the moment. Thank you to all who have come, had a great time and are spreading the word. Thank you so much.

Thanks to Chris, Lacey, Claire Roberson & Lucy for their wonderful help. Sian Meades from Domestic Sluttery & Qype London for coming to us in the first place and being brilliant. Jo Seymour Taylor at Grayling PR for After Eight Mints and of course to Jim Haynes (book into his Sunday suppers in Paris)– without whom this would not have been the most exciting event for us and many others.

Jim Haynes has an autobiography called "Thanks For Coming" published by Faber & Faber

(whose do these photos belong to? Qype Blog? We love them! Hope you don't mind us using them)


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