In Review: Hamblin Bakery “Autumn Table” Pop-Up
Picture a fresh, newly opened bakery with gleaming surfaces and mountains of delicious warm bread. In it’s first week, two women from Sweden and Denmark who have a passion for food visit and propose a pop-up dinner in the shop two weeks later…
We were lucky enough to attend this one of a kind event at Hamblin and we’re certainly glad we did!
Hamblin opened on the 6th October to an eagerly awaiting crowd of bread aficionados. Owners Kate (the incredible baker) and Hugo focus on freshly made, good quality bread made from locally sourced ingredients. They were chuffed when chefs Ellen and Anna walked into the Bakery and suggested an evening full of autumnal culinary delights.
On arriving that evening, the shop had been set with a large central table for 17, candles and thoroughly autumnal decorations. The lights were dim and wine already flowing.
Anna and Ellen wanted to produce a menu that emphasised local and organic produce, and wine lover Hugo had selected a range of natural, organic wines and ciders to carry the theme through. We started with an absolutely delicious lightly sparkling red which went wonderfully with our appetisers – Rollright Cheese from the wonderful Jericho Cheese Company, pickled cucumber with sour cream and walnuts, and “dusty” carrots. Rosie and I are already fans of Rollright cheese’s deep flavours and it was lovely to follow this with the zingy freshness of the picked cucumber.
After mingling and chatting to other Oxford folk including some of the Oli’s Thai and Arbequina team, we sat down and started on a seven course “walk through the autumnal garden” (see a snap of the beautifully designed menu below).
The “pumpkin puddle”, an unusual but deliciously warming seaweed broth with hazelnut puree, roasted pumpkin and foraged mushrooms, started this journey. Naturally accompanied by one of Kate’s gorgeous polenta bread rolls of course! It was followed by locally grown “burned leek” that had softened beautifully and was accompanied by sour cream, roasted walnuts and a fresh, bright green leek oil. It was topped off with a one-off cows’ cheese from Jericho Cheese Company that brought a light nutty sweetness to the dish.
Next up was roasted celeriac nestled on a bed of smooth, creamy potato puree and topped with sweet shallots, crunchy roasted barley and lashings of fresh nutmeg. This was followed by sharing dish Goat greets Pumpkin to get to know our neighbours a bit more. Chunks of local goats’ cheese were brought to the table with jars of pickled pumpkin which looked like slices of fresh, sweet mango. They had such a sweetness that you could almost be fooled into thinking they were, especially when paired with the creamy depths of the cheese. Simple but delicious!
To accompany these dishes Hugo selected a stunning natural white wine that tasted almost like cider and had a very gentle, naturally produced fizz. A great fit for the season that went perfectly with the next dish, Wicked Artichoke – a buttery artichoke with creamy egg sauce, smoky burnt cream, charred buckwheat and shredded greens.
Onwards and outwards (literally – we ate so much food!) we had our final savoury dish of the night, melty pork. And melty it was! The delicious slow cooked pork was accompanied by two types of greens – two types of winter kale with kale pesto and the last of the fresh, bright summer greens – and topped off with still warm from the oven flatbread. Rosie, as a vegetarian had slow cooked melty green peppers in place of the pork.
Our only criticism here would be the sheer volume of food. It was all so delicious, but we did leave a bit too full and as a result didn’t perhaps enjoy this last savoury course as much as we could have done!
To finish the evening, Pausing under the Apple Tree arrived in front of us – a bowl full of soft and sweet apple flavours with chocolate crumb, edible petals and fresh, warm apple jus. A truly fitting autumnal end to the evening.
If subsequent pop-up dinners at Hamblin are anything like this one, make sure you snap up a ticket fast. We dined on honest, simple, but incredibly flavourful food and did so in great company. We’re looking forward to another one already…
A additional bit about the chefs
Ellen Elisabet Ericson worked as a professional chef in her native Sweden for seven years including at two Michelin-starred restaurants and believes good food must honour flavour, sustainability and community. Anna Grønkjær Jensen on the other hand discovered her love of farm to table when with farmers in the Japanese countryside and has worked with various organisations to investigate the relationship between education and food. Both of them are now both Kaospilot students, a social entrepreneur school looking into ways to solve complex challenges that are present today.
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