One Sunday last August I was walking back from the allotment with Adam, a friend and neighbour we share our plot with. It was a glorious summer day and Adam started telling me about the festival of Lammas. It occurs at high summer, not mid-summer (which always feels a bit springy to me) but that point where it really feels like summer: long drawn-out days, lazy times, bounty. Lammas celebrates the first wheat harvest and marks the ripening of the first berries of the year, so you eat bread and blackberries and soak up the good times. Something about this food-based link to the seasons made me look around me properly and completely appreciate that moment: the clear, high, blue summer sky; the kids running in t-shirts and shorts on hot pavements; the wheeling, shrieking swifts; the wheelbarrow full of produce. It’s so easy to miss it when you’re in it, and only really see it when you look back, on a cold March day.
It started the germ of an idea, about creating a celebration based on whatever is in the allotment or garden at that time to make myself stop and look around and enjoy: comforting, cosy winter squash and roots in autumn and winter, fresh green shoots and herbs in spring, and that joyful, bountiful excess of high summer. I mentioned the idea of a supper club to my friend Juliet Roberts and she got it instantly, the idea of creating something of our own, a little (hopefully) magical way of marking the moment, several times a year.
So here’s the plan: this is to be a very modest supper club. We will have four evenings a year, one each in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Sometimes it will be at my house, sometimes at Juliet’s. Each evening will start with a little look around the garden and some chat about what we are up to in it, and what you can do to get growing food at that particular time of the year. There will be a cocktail, food, laughs and chat. There will not be big hunks of meat. We are going to play to our strengths and really concentrate on making something special out of the vegetables and fruits of the season. You will bring your own bottle.
It is our chance to have some fun, to meet some interesting people, and to create something of our own. We also want to put our money where our mouths are about growing and eating good, seasonal food, and to show off our gardens. We will do our best to make it a beautiful evening.
Of course we’re starting with the trickiest time of the year, the hungry gap, but we think we can make something special of it. It’s a time of using up the last preserved food and starting to get the very earliest of the year’s produce in. The first date is Saturday 24th March at my house, the cost is £25 per head, and the menu (currently subject to daily change) looks like this:
Onion marmalade and goats cheese nibbles
Green garlic soup with nettle and walnut pesto and pea shoot shot glasses
Baked ricotta, braised raddichio, potatoes in sorrel sauce, buttered spring cabbage and purple-sprouting broccoli
(The main course will be served on big shared platters on the table, actually there will be other bits and pieces as well as these here. To be confirmed)
Rhubarb upside-down cake with bay ice cream
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place or to go on our mailing list, and follow us on twitter @liaandjuliet
Or just wish us luck.
PS It strikes me a little late that I just presumed anyone who might read this would know where I live. It appears they dont. North Bristol.