In Review: Cranston Pickles Supper Club
The other month, Rosie and I were chuffed to be invited to Cranston Pickles’ first ever supper club. Hosted in Hamblin on Iffley Road, we were promised an eight-course menu of pickled delights created by Fiona Cranston and chef friend Jack Denning.
Fiona has always had a love of throwing bring-your-own dish dinner parties for friends and family and so running a pop-up supper club felt like the next step…
After working for several years in London in the fashion industry, Fiona returned to Oxford to start her pickling business. She was inspired by her Grandparents unwavering regular egg pickling each Christmas and now loves the freedom pickling gives her in terms of sustainability and using seasonal produce. You can read more about the back story behind Cranston Pickles here.
But now, back to the food! On arrival we were greeted with the cosy atmosphere of a candle lit Hamblin Bakery and glass of sparkling wine complete with pickled blueberry. After chatting to fellow guests and getting seated at the long table, we tucked into Pork, Asparagus and Apricot Terrine with Piccalilli and (what else!) Hambin’s very own sourdough. The sweet and sour taste of the piccalilli cut beautifully through the delicate terrine and made us excited for the next few courses to come.
Course two was definitely a favourite of mine. I’m a lifelong fan of scotch eggs but this was next level! A glorious soft, curried pickled egg was presented to us encased in a delicate kedgeree rice which was then covered in golden breadcrumbs and served with chilli pickle mayo. If it wasn’t for the next few six courses I would have ask for the whole egg plus more! Next up, Seabass, Mango and Fennel Ceviche with pickled radish, chilli and avocado cream delighted the senses followed by superb Togarashi Fried Chicken Thighs. These were accompanied by the creamiest leeks I’ve ever had and perfectly balanced by the picked purple cauliflower.
As mentioned, food was not the only thing that had pickled elements. On top of the pickled blueberries in our wine, we were also offered Picklebacks. For the uninitiated, it’s a good(!) shot of whiskey swiftly followed by a shot of pickle juice (the brine from the pickling). The shot of pickle juice is intended to neutralise the taste and burn of whiskey. I’m yet to be convinced but it was a lot of fun for all of us to try!
The final meat course of the evening was a fresh salad of carrot, mooli, cucumber and pickled ginger topped with delicious strips of Hoi Sin Beef Brisket. Following that we were treated to local Bibury Smoked Trout. It was served with locally sourced, fresh beetroot which, combined with the sweetness of the pickled cucumber really cut through the smokey trout and the hot, pungent horseradish cream.
To complete the savoury courses, we were presented with sharing bowls of Pickled Pumpkin and Seasonal Broccolli Tempura with a Matcha Pickled Lemon and Pickle Dip. The delightfully light, crunchy batter was a perfect match for these vegetables and it meant that, despite very full bellies, they were snapped up in no time with not a scrap left.
Despite being full of seven delicious courses, our separate pudding stomachs were ready to try a dessert with a pickled element… Out came sweet pickled clementines, with local poppy seed ice cream, saffron and honey pickled syrup. Interestingly this dessert did divide opinion with some of us unsure of the bitterness of the clementines but it was balanced nicely with the creamy ice cream and the honey’s sweetness.
Overall, this was a wonderful evening with damn good food and great company. Rosie and I are big fans of the supper club concept and really enjoy the element of meeting new people or bumping unexpectedly into people you know. Have you tried out any of Oxford’s supper clubs? What are your thoughts?
Fiona has yet to plan future dates but in the meantime, get your pickled fix from the following places…
One off Events
Little Clarendon street fair – Julyfest, 21st of July
Gloucester Green Market, every Wednesday selling pickles and picked vegetarian scotch eggs
East Oxford Farmers Market – Monthly every 3rd Saturday.
Waddesdon Manor Artisan Market – 13 July, 10 Aug, 14 Sept and 12 Oct 2019, 10am-2pm
North Parade Market – 27th July