Last week, I had one of the best nights (and meals) I’ve had in a very long time. I’ve been laying off eating out as much as I usually do because I’m training for the London Marathon. So my nights are now spent training, and my diet has become a lot more sensible. Less juicy cheeseburgers encased in brioche buns, and more brown rice and chicken breasts.
However, following food bloggers and chefs on Twitter doesn’t help my craving for eating out, not when I see a constant photo stream of amazing looking food. One of these culprits is chef and writer Sabrina Ghayour who constantly posts incredible photos of the food she makes. So a few weeks ago I commented on a photo and said I’d love to try her food sometime. Luckily, she came straight back with a couple of dates for her upcoming supperclubs.
I immediately booked myself and my twin (spiritual, not biological) and all-round favourite boy, Paul, in for one of the dates. All that is required is to let Sabrina know when you can come, then pay a £20 deposit by PayPal for the meal. The total cost is a minimum donation of £40 per person which includes a cocktail on arrival.
The day before the supperclub, Sabrina said she had a couple of spaces free so Paul and I invited the very lovely Dan to join us. And so the night came. Paul, Dan and I arrived at Sabrina’s West London home at 7pm and were warmly welcomed into her home and shown into her living room which had been turned into a dining room for the evening.
As we met the other guests, we were handed a delicious cocktail then got to know everyone.
Fortunately, everyone in our little group got on brilliantly. No weirdos. Phew! After about half an hour of exchanging names, jobs, how we heard about Sabrina etc, we all took our seats at her dining table and Sabrina explained how the evening would work. For the first ‘course’, she would bring out a few plates of each different dish, of which there were several. Within minutes, the table was laden with the most beautiful looking and smelling food…
Apple, Fennel & Pomegranate Salad with sumac and a lemon dressing…
Maast-o-Khiar – yoghurt and cucumber with dried mint, fresh mint and rose petals…
Naan-Paneer – marinated feta cheese in lemon zest, shallots and herbs served with Lavaash bread…
Kashk-e-Bedemjan – aubergines with caramelised onions and whey…
Sour cherry and dill meatballs – spiced lamb meatballs in a homemade rich tomato sauce… (due to the dim light, I couldn’t get a good photo of the meatballs but Sabrina emailed me this pic from another evening she did).
And so we all politely took a spoonful of each dish and added it to our plates.
However, as soon as we tasted each dish, we started to dive in for more. I tasted just one small bite of the aubergines with caramelised onions on my plate and immediately grabbed the dish it came from and ladled three huge tablespoons onto my plate. Manners went straight out the window!
The food was superb. Each dish was bursting with flavour and contrasting textures. When I booked, I told Sabrina that I can’t eat chilli, so she very kindly made me up a separate portion of the marinated feta cubes without the chilli. In fact, she was happy to accommodate any dietary requirement or preference from her guests.
The stand out dish from this selection was, for me, the aubergines. They tasted absolutely incredible. Velvety in texture, deep in flavour and with the added crunch of the caramelised onions, this was just heaven in a bowl for me. Even Paul who doesn’t particularly like aubergines, loved this dish. In fact, everyone around the table raved about them.
A close second were the lamb meatballs made with sour cherry and dill. Wow, these were amazing. Soft texture, sweet in flavour and with a rich, punchy tomato sauce. I could have happily sat all night, just eating the starter dishes. In fact, I was piling so much into my mouth that I started to feel a bit full and I knew there was a lot more food to come so I had to pull back from loading up as much as I wanted to. Unfortunately, Sabrina commented that as a group, we had eaten less than any group she has had before! Now, I was too busy stuffing my face to notice what anyone else was eating so I don’t think I could have been blamed for that. However, I did feel a bit bad, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food at all, I think people just wanted to save room for the next course.
And so it came…Spice perfumed shoulder of lamb infused with rose petals and Sabrina’s special secret Persian spice blend…
This photo really doesn’t do it justice but believe me when I tell you, it was the most delicious lamb I’d ever tasted. It literally fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. The skin was crispy and the meat underneath it was so tender and juicy, it was simply wonderful. Sabrina told us it had cooked slowly in the oven for six hours.
Persian ‘Zereshk Polow’ Rice – steamed Basmati rice cooked authentically to the Persian method, with barberries…
Khoresh-e-Fesenjan – slow cooked chicken on the bone with walnut and pomegranate sauce…
Paul found this a little too sweet for his taste, but I loved it. I do have a sweet tooth mind you so I rarely find anything too sweet. But again, the meat fell easily off the bone and it tasted delicious. I loved this.
Last and by no means least, Roasted Butternut Squash with pistachio pesto, crumbled feta and barberries..
Soft, sweet squash, creamy feta and a punchy pistachio pesto which had a good kick in it. Again, this was heaven. I sound a bit boring by telling you how amazing everything tasted but I really couldn’t fault anything. If I had the stomach capacity, I would have eaten until every plate was empty. Alas, I did not. I had stuffed my face so much with the starters that even though I ate a lot of the main, I wish I could have had more. So I asked Sabrina if I was able to take some home with me.
There was a bit of a break at this point and then Sabrina asked if everyone was able to eat dessert. If not, they could take it home with them. A few people were just too full to eat any more so they opted for the takeaway option. I did not. It just looked too good!
And so, I was served Almond, Carrot, Coconut and Pistachio Cake served with rosewater cream and some fresh mint tea…
Wow. The cake was fantastic. Full of flavour, moist, dense with ingredients and yet light as air. I don’t know how she did it. Even better, Sabrina came out with a huge bowl of whipped rosewater cream and dolloped even more onto the plates of those who wanted it. (i.e. me). I love this woman! (I love anyone who dollops double cream onto my plate).
And so, at the end of the meal, we all sat back, feeling very full and very happy. We had had the most magnificent, decadent evening of glorious food and fantastic company. We talked and laughed as if we had known each other for years.
Sabrina was the most marvellous host, I just wished she had been able to join us as I would have loved to have spoken to her properly. I don’t know how she managed to cook up such a storm in her kitchen, I think she must be Superwoman!
At the end of the evening, she very subtly handed us envelopes so we were able to pay her for her efforts. Then with lots of “So lovely to meet you, let’s stay in touch”, exchanging of Twitter accounts, hugs and goodbyes, we all spilled out into the street and made our way home (me, laden with tuppawares full of leftovers).
The next day, I had leftovers for lunch, and again for dinner and they tasted even better. I am desperate for that aubergine recipe, and the recipe for the meatballs. In fact, for everything.
If you would like to experience Sabrina’s food, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to join her mailing list to find out all her upcoming supperclubs and pop-ups. You can also follow her on Twitter and you can see more on her website. (Beware, don’t look when you have an empty stomach or if you’re on a diet!)