We’re embarking on an adventure: an evening dining in the house of a stranger, meeting people unknown, bound together by time, place and one other thing: a common interest in food.
This is the Goldtoast Supper Club.
Tonight’s theme is ‘Rustic Italian’. It’s not the first time we’ve tasted Bree’s food, so we’re anticipating a night of pleasure, and delighted to meet others who share our passion for good food.
Bree Denman has told me previously that she began the dining club at the beginning of 2012 as a way to pursue her culinary passion through an alternative route. Each month or so she holds a small popup function based around a theme. It may be a picnic, a Mexican cantina dinner, a slow-cooked feast, a Brunch of Flowers, Burgers, Beer & Bingo or a Parisian brunch!
After the date, theme and venue are decided, the event is opened to all comers, with a set donation price given to offset the costs. Close to the event, the venue is disclosed via email to the guests.
“We’re putting on a five course Italian feast with dishes from all over Italy, including Milan, Capri, the Piacenza Valley & Sicily. You will start the night with a complimentary cocktail and meet your fellow dinner guests over a shared antipasto platter. Once seated, the meal will continue with a handmade ravioli entrée, a Caprese Salata for the salad course and a traditional Milanese main. The night will end with a classic Italian dessert… coffee and tea.”
We begin on the verandah with Sgroppino (a limoncello and champagne cocktail) and work on deconstructing a fabulous still life antipasti: Affettato Piacentino ( a spread of anchovy butter made with Pepe Saya, salami and prosciutto), Giardiniera, Peccorino Romana cheese and piquant Sicilian olives accompanied by Gnocco Fritto (fried bread).
It’s surprising how easy it is to talk to people over food when you’ve taken the leap of faith to enjoy their company! When we move to the communal table for the next few courses, the atmosphere is already warming. So, when the entrée arrives, generous hats of ricotta-filled beetroot ravioli, comments abound: ‘Isn’t the colour amazing’, ‘Have you ever made a sage and burned butter sauce like this?’ The sauce is subtle, the nutty flavours of sage gently dousing the ravioli. It’s simply a delicious dish.
A Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil and baby gnocchi cleanses the palate in preparation for the main course: a generous rustic serve of Osso Bucco, served on top of a Risotto alla Milanese (risotto with parmesan and saffron), with Gremolata. Tiramisu and coffee complete our evening. Satiated, we’re already looking forward to the next adventure.
Unsurprisingly, dining in a home makes a difference to the experience. It’s more quirky than a restaurant, and far less formal. We chat about travel adventures, where we’ve tasted dishes such as these, swap dining experiences and even delve lightly into other interests. The evening’s BYO, there are no food choices to be made, no decisions hemmed in by cost or bill-splitting, no uncomfortable food envy moments, just a convivial intimate dinner party with Bree as chef and her sister Lily our smiling ever-present waitress.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening. It’s the dinner party we’d love to give, but don’t; a great way to be more adventurous with food choices, meet new friends and step into the unknown, all rolled up into one. If you see dining as an ‘omnivorous’ experience, a cultural learning event, whether you are travelling overseas or within our own country, then this is a journey worth embarking on. Be brave! Cast off, and join us!
More on Goldtoast Supper Club: firstname.lastname@example.org
More of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast http://www.foodgoldcoast.com.au.