Dinner No 8 hosted by Emma Schwarz

Well it’s official – my love for cooking. knew I liked cooking, but I did not realise quite how much I LOVE IT……until “My 8ate club dinner”.

Right from the start I loved the creativity of choosing the menu – I had to theme the food, otherwise I would have driven myself crazy with the choices!
So – my theme: “What’s in season”:

Palette Pleasers
Sliced Baguette with Radishes and Walnut Miso Butter
Smoked Mackerel Filled Chicory Cups
Lime-cured Sea Trout with Wasabi dressing and Toasted Sourdough
Watercress and Wild Garlic Soup
Main Course
Crab Linguine with Champagne and Chilli Sauce
Accompanied by a Green Salad with Asparagus, dressed in homemade mint infused oil
Orange Granita
Rhubarb Tart with Mascarpone and Rhubarb spaghetti on the side drizzled in melted white chocolate
Petit Fours
Mini Passion Fruit Meringues
Girly Gourmet Goody Box
Pop corn and salted chocolate Macaroons!

Given this theme, the sourcing was so much fun – a little bit “La dee da!” i.e “female with too much time on her hands, spending more than the weekly food budget! buying the best she could from the best!!”. But given that I am in the shopping business, my whole business philosophy is that shopping HAS to be pleasurable and inspiring and my trips to East Wittering, The Cowdray Estate, The Chichester Market and others were indeed pleasurable and a welcome break from the normal/mundane supermarket trip.
My culinary goals were all about being true to 8ate club and “facing my food prep fears” and I can honestly say I feel like I have been to a “foodie re-hab” and sorted out any future trepidations that I may have about giving difficult things a go in the kitchen.
I was delighted with my palette pleasers – my favorite being the home cured trout – that whole curing business is very satisfying, I love anything that is “authentic SLOW FOOD” – and I love asian influences. Plus I simply adore the presentation opportunity this dish gave and the ability to add in the wasabi dressing and ice cold vodka shot – such a socially engaging and fun dish. Although as I said on the night, I wish my 45 degree slices had been thinner – Christmas pressie this year will involve asking for sharp commercial quality knives!
Smoked mackerel – not that adventurous but yum, and the miso buttered toasted sourdough, with sliced radish and cress – I just loved this dish because of the quirky and totally innovative combo – an eclectic contemporary taste explosion.
My soup again was a good example of slow food – it had been maturing over 36 hours before being served. I actually think the cream could have been left out completely – and what a thrill to use wild garlic!
The main – MASSIVE PHEW – the past prep scared me the most – there seemed to be lots that could go wrong. Plus my lifetime dream is to live in italy one day (got married there!!), so I reckon the pressure was on because if I stuffed up the pasta maybe I was secretly fearing my ability to be accepted by the locals in Italy!! One of the funniest things happened when I produced the pretty perfect looking linguine strips out of the machine – without thought or warning I shouted “Mama’s made the pasta” in a loud, booming, strongly accented voice…..Mark who was on an important conference call to the US, did not know what on earth I was going on about!
The salty sea fresh crab with the limey buttery champagne and chilli sauce worked great – so glad I did not cook the crab in the sauce and rob any of its authentic sea flavour – thanks to the tip from my restauranteur friend Lisa Pizza!!
The Granita – simple fun fresh entremets – did what the blog said it would, so great choice. And Ellie I love your idea of doing it with kids. Plus next time I would be bold and not serve it in glass but just balance the skin on a banana leaf to show off the frozen sugar crystals.
The Tart – good old Nigel S never has let me down yet……
The Grande Fours – the Meringues – too big for my liking and not refined enough in the presentation but great flavor and I was happy with the gooey ness of the center however I think I would reduce the cornflour and arrow root powder.
The Macaroons – don’t think Laduree will hire me anytime soon but once more they tasted good!
All that’s left to say is – “I sooooo loved the experience and feel totally blessed to have been involved, I am also inspired to continue pushing myself and I can’t wait to talk more with Tanya, Ellie and Lucinda about the charity angle that this 8ate club has……….”

                                                 Sarah, Lucinda, Emma, Lisa


                                        Preparation pictures from during the day….

  1. T

    Where on earth to start!!

    Just as a general note I would say that Emma, you were AMAZING.

    I think what was lovely was that at the end of the night you could say that was the best meal you have ever produced – I think the 8ateclub is really special to be able to have facilitated that experience for you. The work, the effort, the detail, all the thought you put into the evening and the menu was clear in abundance.

    Now I did say I was going to run out of superlatives and I have no doubt that that is true.

    The palette pleasers:
    I have to give a nod to all the extras.
    Emma you have such an enviable eye for design and how things can be totally different and work so well together. I cannot help but mention the 'setting' for the food even though I like to focus on taste – the presentation was so inviting. I was already totally sold before I put anything into my mouth. The other senses have been treated so well that your taste buds just know they are in for a rollercoaster ride.

    The baguette with miso butter was my favourite of the three and possibly not even because I liked it the most! It was my favourite because it was a flavour I was not familiar with. I adore trying new things, new tastes and this was sensational. The different textures with the crunchiness of the bread, the wet snap of the radish and the smooth miso butter. Goodness. In fact I think it was my favourite of the whole night. No, actually that is not possible there were too many other amazing dishes.

    The fish was inspirational ~ raw fish makes me a bit nervous and I always wonder whether home curing will actually work! But it was sublime. And the combination with the cucumber, wasabi and a splash of lime was gorgeous. Wasabi can be really quite harsh but this had all the flavour and was the right side of hot. I loved the subtlety of the fish as well.

    The chicory cups were lovely, I have done something similar with blue cheese and I think they are just perfect little canape packages – I was amazed that the vodka really did clear the fishiness as well. Beautiful.

    The Watercress and garlic soup was a stunner – such a depth of flavour and the texture was perfect too, not too smooth. I was really glad you went easy on the cream, I think it would have masked the beautiful flavours.

    The pasta was a triumph ~ whatever trepidation you had was totally unnecessary, it was just so nice to have proper home made pasta – even 'fresh' pasta in restaurants is churned out, this was the real thing!! I am excited that you can elevate pasta to a main course, which can only be done if you make it by hand. Very, very impressed. The crab was a real surprise to me. I am happy to admit that I don't like crab, I try it every few years but am just not a fan at all but the combination with the super punchy lemon and the heat of the chilli was so enjoyable. I could not taste the champagne but it is probably one of those things that you can't taste as an individual flavour but you would lose out if it wasn't there.

  2. T

    Comments from Tanyah, continued….

    The mint oil was a revelation, so gorgeous with the asparagus (which was perfectly cooked, very easy to overdo I find). A perfect combination.

    The orange granita, again was gorgeous. I would feel a bit short changed if it was the main pudding because I am greedy and like something properly fatty haha! But as an extra pudding I felt utterly spoiled. The only trouble was the sugar on the outside was so blooming yummy, we were all picking them up and licking them. Ah, such refined company… I would want to find some way to get that sugar on top of the granita, it was unfeasibly delicious given it was just sugar!!

    The rhubarb tart was another favourite of mine, mostly down to that gorgeous crisp sweet pastry. I am a massive lemon fan and the pastry was out of this world. SO LEMONY! I also enjoyed the creaminess of the mascarpone being balanced by the yoghurt. Rhubarb spaghetti probably didn't work quite as planned but it looked so pretty on the plate and was certainly yummy – much sweeter than the chunks of rhubarb, so a nice accompaniment.

    The passion fruit meringues were dazzling. I thought they were a perfect size. The smell of the passion fruit. Gah! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

    Now to the popcorn and salted macaroon – I didn't have it on the evening as I was full and wanted to really appreciate it. I had at 11am this morning with a cup of tea and I don't want to be rude but I did find myself groaning slightly. It was an erotic experience haha! Sorry girls. You know what I'm like, I can't help myself 😉

    Emma you are AMAZING!!

    I have just tried to post my comment and it says it is too long. will chop it into two parts.

  3. Anonymous

    Sara here. I was Ellie’s guest at Emma’s amazing 8ate club meal. It was my first exposure to the 8ate club and I’d like to thank you all. It was a great privilege to spend an evening in such beautiful surroundings, with such wonderful ladies and a puppy.

    And the food…..

    Despite completing a culinary marathon with such loving care and attention to detail that it exhausts me just thinking about it, Emma was the warmest and most welcoming of hosts. I hope you enjoyed the fruits of your labour.

    At the end of the evening I felt that the menu had been a real epic adventure. There was a touch of genius in the beautiful array of amazing flavours and textures that Emma created. Each course was a marvel in its own right that worked in real harmony with what came before and after.

    Writing this 3 days after the event, I am struck by how vividly I can recall my impressions of the meals. I am literally salivating remembering the creamy smoked mackerel in the sharp, tangy chicory cups; the fresh, light peppery soup; the gorgeous springiness of the crab linguine offset by the clean minty salad with perfectly cooked asparagus, and the citrus intensity of the granita. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, out came the cool, peachy Monbazillac and my absolute favourite – rhubarb: beautifully poached with just the right amount of bite and tartness, complemented by the smooth creaminess of the mascarpone and the lemony cripsness of the pastry. It so happens that my other favourite is passion fruit which was sandwiched between another Emma triumph – a lovely crispy-coated, chewy-centred beauty of a meringue.

    All in all, stunning.

    It was an amazing treat and truly memorable and inspiring. I’ve been smiling all week and telling everyone about it. Thank you Emma. And thank you all.

    Sara x

  4. Anonymous

    from ellie,
    emma thank you so much for such an enjoyable evening, wonderful food, lovely wine and great company, another 8ate club triumph.
    palette pleasers;
    the sea trout was stunningly presented and tasted fantastic, something that i would love to try at home but never quite had the nerve as home curing sounded scary, but not any more! the walnut miso butter was delicious, the texture combination and the fact that the miso gave an unexpected and unusual taste.
    i hardly ever make soups as a starter as i think they will be too heavy, but this was definately the exception to the rule, real depth of flavour while remaining light and refreshing.
    my favourite of the night, well done with the home made pasta and the sauce was really superb. i love crab but hardly ever cook with it as i think its fiddly to prepare, but all your extra efforts were so appreciated. ( dont know if you noticed but i cleared tan's plate as well as my own!)
    i think this could stand as adessert in its own right, really fresh and light, the the presentation was great, i thought the kids would like to make this, scooping out and freezing the oranges!
    well done with the pastry, very light and crisp, and the rubarb was perfect, not over sweetened, and complmented so well with the richness of the marscapone.
    petit fours
    the meringues were great, but the macaroons even better, again something ive always loved but never tried to make myself. salted caramel is a very trendy ingredient right now, and rightly so, a delicious way to end the meal.
    so well done emma, you gave us a truly memorable meal, and all your efforts and hard work was so appreciated, thank you

  5. Anonymous

    Thankyou to Emma for such a wonderful evening. After reading all the other comments i wouldnt be able to disagree with any of them. What i would like to say is that from the minute i arrived to when i said goodbye she made us feel so welcome, and considering it was the first time Emma had cooked ALL of the dishes, she was so calm and gorgeous with it! The effort that she went to to source local produce was amazing, but worth every mouthful. Emma really inspired me to try different recipes and not stick to playing safe, the flavours were so incredible. Also i will now make much more of an effort to use local produce, and not use the easy route of the supermarket. The quality of the trout, crab, asparagus, watercress, rhubarb and honey was great and it made me feel proud we have all this on our doorstep. May i just add that Emma cooked these ingredients with passion and respect, which made them all the more tastier. Such an inspiring evening, and lovely to meet 6 great ladies! x Lisa

  6. Bels

    From Bels
    I felt incredibly honoured be at Emma's table, which was undoubtedly the best home cooked meal I have ever tasted. You were a genius, I loved the theme, and yet the variation in tastes, and textures was amazing. You should be so proud of yourself, as we are of you, and all of it maintaining an aura of total calm and serenity..super star.

    To echo some of the other comments, all the food was fantastic, but out and out highlights were the walnut miso butter which was absolutely melt in the mouth, the soup, which was sensational, and the pasta. I am in awe of your pasta making skills – what a gigantuan effort.

    I think the idea of what you all do with the 8ate club is fantastic, in our current lives we spend some much time juggling, and when we cook dinners we aim for as tasty as possible within the confines of children, jobs etc. To be able to cook with a free rein, unharnessed so to speak, allows creativity and incredible results. Emma, you are an inspiration. Thank you , and a huge thank you to Lucinda for inviting me – I sat at a Michelin starred table last Wednesday xxx

  7. Lucinda

    WOW, what an utterly delicious meal! Thank you Emma!!
    I will probably over use the word gorgeous so please bear with me.
    Firstly, I thought it was a wonderful challenge to have a seasonal theme and fabulous to know what foods were in fact in season in April! As an overview I thought the menu composition was great, It was well balanced in terms of flavour, colour, texture and volume. It was also a real treat to be eating in your gorgeous orangery!!

    So on to the meal:

    Tastebud teasers!
    These were probably my favourite part of the meal as they were not only gorgeously delicious but so beautiful as well and I am a sucker for presentation!
    The Trout was really melty and was just divinewith the cucumber especially, I was delighted that the wasabi dressing wasn't too feisty. The baguette with walnut miso butter and radishes was so moreish, this was my favourite as you could really taste the nuts and it was a really interesting canapé. I aslo loved then smoked mackerel chicory cups! They were light and rich in flavour with a real contrast of textures that made it another winner for me! They all certainly pleased my palatte!!

    The watercress and wild garlic soup was very light and delicate on the taste buds, the garlic was very subtle which meant that you could enjoy the watercress more and it felt very healthy!!

    Main course
    Crab linguine with champagne and chilli sauce sounds amazing and it certainly delivered. I would never order crab in a restaurant as I am not a huge fan of shell fish, however this was a delicious and in really enjoyed it!! I am not sure if it was because of the light but punchy champagne and chilli sauce (which I loved) or whether you have converted me? The pasta was a triumph and I am definitely going to have another stab at it now having experienced your success!! Well done!!
    I really enjoyed the accompanying salad and thought the mint infused oil was so refreshing and light, perfect with the pasta.

    What a gorgeously light, refreshing and beautifully presented palate cleanser! The only thing I would say is that with a very sweet line up from this point forward I would probably have served this after the starter, although I can see the benefits of it after the chilli in the pasta dish.

    The rhubarb tart was again delectable, the mascarpone filling was wonderfully rich but accompanied with the rhubarb made a perfect marriage of flavours. The pastry was tasty and crunchy, maybe a little to crunchy but that's just my preference. I know the rhubarb spaghetti did work visually but it tasted great!!

    Petit Fours
    Passion fruit and meringue, what a winner. Gorgeous and chewy as well!! A little on the large side given the desert prior to this was yummy and generous but altogether delicious!!

    Godly gourmet box
    How spoily (as Pich would put it). A very decadent treat at the end of an amazing meal that I just could resist eating immediately!! I love salted caramel!!!

    Emma this was the most gorgeous,
    Tasty and fun evening and I thoroughly enjoyed finding out what was in season, where your produce came from and please may I steal all of your recipes!!

    Lol Lou xxxx

    Who's next??????

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