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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Usk Supperclub - The Judicial Review

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Raspberrybush Supperclub I was looking forward to the Supperclub run by Foodworkshop ( see post about Co-operation in Abergavenny). Sugarloaf Catering provided the dishes with Mark Coulton demonstrating the skills that he acquired in his career as a chef in hotels and restaurants whilst service was in the hands of Nicholas Snell and the terrific Danielle. 

So on a crisp Friday evening we headed to Usk and the imposing fa├žade of the Old Sessions House. A former courthouse it is now the headquarters of Usk Town Council and has been preserved in all its former glory. We would be dining in the Judges Library, but first would meet fellow diners in the Courtroom.

A choice of Wine, fresh Lemonade or Gin and Tonic was offered as soon as we entered the front door and with G&T in hand I made my way into the imposing, wood panelled, former hall of justice.

Some of my fellow diners were already in the dock whilst others were happily trying the Judges Chair. Mrs K sat on the bench in front of the dock oblivious of the painted indication that this was reserved for Solicitors thus providing a visual pun in that she appeared to be Solicitking. Canapes of Chorizo and Peppers (Trealy Farm of course) and Parmesan and Olive Crisps were passed and the volume of chat increased.

The diners were largely regular supperclub goers, split into two geographic groups, those from Abergavenny and those from Usk but we were welcomed into the group and conversation began in earnest.

Shortly we were invited into the dining room and sat at a long table surrounded by shelves of All England Law Reports, Reports of the Kings Justice Division and Times Law Reports all heavy tomes reminding me of early Law studies at university.

The wines flowed and the first course arrived, a Terrine of Salmon and King Prawn wrapped in Smoked Salmon - step forward Black Mountain Smokery. A small salad of leaves accompanied the dish and a few Capers provided a sharp and salty counterpoint to the soft succulence of the terrine.

The main course of Slow Roasted Pork with an Apple and Sage stuffing and a Red Onion Marmalade came with seasonal vegetables and, unlike the traditional “seasonal veg” which seems to be Mangetout, Carrot and Broccoli irrespective of the actual season, these were. Carrot, Parsnip and Swede cooked just a` point so that they retained their true taste. A rich and creamy Potato Dauphinoise completed the plate with a jus and it was pleasing to be offered additional vegetables and potato.

Dessert offered a choice of Vanilla Mousse with Rhubarb Compote and a Shortbread biscuit, chosen by Mrs K, though I was offered a small tasting, which was creamy well flavoured and contrasted well with the sharp, yet sweet Rhubarb.

I opted for the British Cheese Board which Offered Perl Las, Perl Wen, Caerphilly , Blacksticks Blue and Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire Cheese. A good trip around the British Isles, and a range of taste - from the smooth creamy Perl Wen to the acidity of the Caerphilly, and through the crumbliness of the Lancashire to the contrasting blues of Blacksticks and Perl Las. Served simply on slate boards, soft home-made Oatcakes and Roisin Ballinger’s Wheaten Bread gave a contrasting flavour which enhanced the cheeses and rounded the meal in style. Rhian Short's superb, award winning, Pear-Lilli gave a sweetness and sharpness to cut through the cheesy richness.

With Coffee and conversation  -including the possibility of obtaining the entire judicial library on Kindle thus removing the need to carry huge tomes around in those natty red bags beloved of QCs and Barristers – the evening wound to a finish and we left aware that we had participated in a special evening, good food, good company and a superb location.

Supperclub will be back in Usk soon and plans a murder mystery themed evening there as well, a more imposing background is hard to imagine and places will go quickly. To sign up follow the link Supperclub Wales

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