At the end of May, a group of twelve of us food bloggers got together for another underground dinner at the Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club, organized awhile back by Jonathan of Food and Tell.
We all met up at Robin’s house (the chef) for the dinner on a beautiful, sunny and warm evening, and were seated outside at a table in the backyard while we waited for everyone else to arrive. We sat around chatting, with some water and wine to start things off (I tried to hold off on the drinks for a bit, but that lasted all of 5 minutes).
For these types of dinners, it’s bring your own beverages, unless you’re good with drinking water only during your meal. The great thing though, is Robin will provide a wine pairing list for each course a few days before your reservations. As a result, everyone chipped in with a variety of bottles, and we got to test out some great variety by the end of the night (and there were even leftovers)!
About half an hour after I arrived, we had a full house, and Robin and Helen brought out the amuse bouche to start out the evening. This consisted of a Farmhouse BC gruyere & sour apple tart on handmade puff pastry with an apple reduction. I enjoyed this treat, and was a bit sad when I was too slow on getting seconds.
We then moved into the main dining area, down a long staircase within the house. Managing to get down them and take to our seats after a barrage of photographs were taken (mine didn’t turn out, so I will not provide those here), we waited for the oncoming onslaught of food to pour in.
The first course was a hand-harvested stinging nettle soup with arugula and sweet peas with garden rosemary and BC stout bread cubes, with a radicchio and cream garnish. I’m not sure I’ve actually eaten stinging nettles before, but I was content having this dish to start out the evening, and really loved the addition of the bread (which I then continued to use to mop up sauces throughout the meal).
Following this was the second course of cedar smoked romaine with pecorino and parmesan cheese, a portugese olive oil vinaigrette and garlic croutons. I wasn’t expecting a full head of greens to arrive on the plate, and actually found this to be a bit too much in terms of a salad for me. Most others did eat all of their romaine though, and it was definitely a light and unique way of serving this dish.
Next up was my absolute favourite of the evening – the baked live Dungeness crab with Averill Creek BC pinot gris, garlic and crab butter with red pepper and star fruit. It was not only delicious, but stunning to look at, with the colours of the fruit and veggies reminding me of a Hawaiian paradise. The crab butter had a strong garlic flavour, and actual pieces of crab meat within – I spent a good portion of the night having to prevent myself from eating every last mouthful with a spoon! The crab was cooked just the right amount, and Mijune and I managed to finish off an extra portion that was brought to the table (as one of our party wasn’t able to make it last minute). 😉 I may just have to go on a crab tour another time so I can catch these babies myself (Robin hosts Swallow Tail Tours and catches most of her own).
We were given plenty of opportunity to walk around at this point and throughout the dinner, but most of us were quite content waiting and chatting amongst ourselves between all of the courses. So, instead we poured more wine and enjoyed each others company.
A little while later, our fourth course arrived. This was made up of BC bison tenderloin with red onion jam (braised in Noble Ridge Meritage), creamed parsnips with garden rhubarb, sauteed leeks with cattails in BC chardonnay, and cleavers and chive flowers. The only complaint I had about the dish was that I wished there was more meat to enjoy – it was tender and moist and very flavourful.
Now it was time for dessert. Robin and Helen brought over a beer battered crepe blintz with Limbert Mountain Farm cream Earl Grey tea creme anglais, apples & huckleberries, and an Amontillado Sherry reduction (pepper, lemon rind, and vanilla bean). I’m not sure I was overly satisfied with the texture of the blintz – it was a bit too soft and crunchy in bits all at the same time – but it was nice to see the painstaking care that went into each and every serving, as all of the berries were locally hand picked.
After dinner, a tea was served for those who wanted (I skipped out since I can’t drink caffeine well at any time of the day – never mind late in the evening), although I did have a sip of someone else’s to give it a try. The smell was so good that I couldn’t refuse at least a sample. It was again the same Limbert Mountain Farm cream Earl Grey tea that made up part of the dessert.
To see what others thought of the meal, you can read their posts (not all of them are up yet at the time of this writing):
$29 per person, 3 course portion
$49 per person, 5 course portion (with focus on more exciting foods)
There is a group sitting size of up to about 14 people