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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Super Supper

Not only do we have great producers in this area but we have a number of people who use them sensitively and sensibly to deliver great food.

Supper Clubs are very popular at present, a small intimate way to enjoy good food and in Raspberrybush and SupperclubWales we have two of the best around. Both committed to the use of local produce and creating a good atmosphere amongst the diners.

Raspberrybush is a collaboration between Raspberry Catering and the Bush Inn, located in Upper Cwmbran. The pub provides the venue and Raspberry Catering the excellent food.

Julie Nelson started Raspberry Catering after being made redundant and deciding to use her cooking skills and they now provide tasty fresh buffets and the like to businesses and private functions alike.

I first met Julie in 2009 when we were both auditioning for Britain’s Best Dish at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff. We had each decided to celebrate the huge Italian influence on Welsh cooking, Julie with a Tiramisu and myself with a Risotto. In the event I competed in 2009 and Julie in 2011.

Julies menu for the event that I went to really did celebrate what’s Local and Great, she had worked with James Swift of Trealy Farm, Sue Fiandr-Woodhouse from Blaenafon Cheddar and Alison Jacob from Glyn Bran Farm for the meat, Cheeses and Vegetables. Glyn Bran is literally yards from the Bush so you can’t get more local.

With brilliant local, seasonal produce a great menu was created:


·         Spicy Parsnip Soup with root vegetable  crisps

First Course

·         Jerusalem Artichoke and local Trealy Farm chorizo salad

·         Jerusalem Artichoke and Wild mushroom Salad (V)

Main course

·         Pheasant Breast stuffed with lemon and herbs, wrapped in local air dried ham & in a             Marsala jus served with rillettes

·         Roast Stuffed Butternut Squash with local goats cheese(V)


·           Colcannon  buttery mashed  potato with kale and leek

·        Light Mustard Glazed Turnips


·         Honey Pannacotta with ginger & orange  poached rhubarb and tuile biscuits


·         A selection of local cheeses with homemade chutney *
Tea/ Coffee

·         Homemade hazelnut coffee macaroons

So on a cold and crisp January evening we headed into the welcoming warmth of the Bush Inn for the first Supper Club of the year.

Around 20 people had gathered including Danielle from Supperclub Wales and Alison, provider of the Jerusalem Artichokes that were a feature of the menu. Several small tables had been rearranged to provide a long table toward one side of the bar and seating was as you please, meaning a good mix of diners, young and old, regulars and newbies. As the drinks began to flow conversation started and a nice atmosphere grew.

The Spicy Parsnip Soup was smooth and deeply flavoured whilst the Root Vegetable Crisps gave a good contrast and compliment, Beetroot has always been one of my favourite crisps and these did not dispel that love in the least.

Janet and I had different starters, James’ Chorizo, grilled crispy was my choice whilst JT went for the mushrooms. Both were served with well-cooked artichokes giving the richness that has led to their being called The Oyster of Vegetables. These are one of my seasonal favourites and are possibly at their best when roast as an accompaniment to Beef or as a soup, but their inclusion in a salad has given me a third option.

Pheasant is, in my experience, rather like Duck - a meat that can be overcooked in the blink of an eye and a dry meat does not make for a great main course. Happily the breasts were just perfect moist and well flavoured with the air dried local ham, an interesting twist on Bacon or Pancetta wraps, both protecting the meat and offering a complementary flavour. The Lemon and Herb Stuffing afforded alternative high notes and the Colcannon using the very seasonal Kale contrasted buttery smoothness with an Iron bite.

The first forced Rhubarb that I have had this year goes naturally with both Orange and Ginger and this trio contrasted with a cool, creamy Pannacotta which might just have been fractionally wobblier but balanced the strong yet rounded flavours on the plate. Sadly it was so good that I had consumed 90% before remembering I did not yet have a photo!

Of course if you like to support local producers it is important that you do so; and I was pleased to assist a fellow diner in clearing their plate of local cheeses, and a pleasure it was indeed.

Finally a delicate little macaroon accompanied the coffee, Hazelnut is a taste which goes well with coffee – try a Hazelnut Latte if you are yet to be convinced – and the resulting combination brought the meal to an end.

All agreed that this was a seasonal menu at its best and that Raspberrybush Supperclub gives a great night out. Local and Great.

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