Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Hungry Gecko dining club is now open!

I thought I'd have a quick blog about last night while it's still fresh in my mind.  I thoroughly enjoyed cooking for 12 guests.  Such a perfect number to make beautiful plates of food and I have to say, feedback on the service was great, so my husband seems to be a natural.  The lack of stress was a joy and I think the bliss of cooking like that showed in the food.  I was really happy with what I produced, and to be fair, it's not often I say that about my own dishes.  I've been trying to keep a quote in my mind...  it makes me feel better about my food and that can only be a good thing.

When you acknowledge as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving towards perfection becomes clear….to make people happy. That’s what cooking is all about” – Thomas Keller

The dinner guests were lovely people too and it was nice to see new friends being made.  The garden annexe room is a delightful setting for a table for four and the adjoining main dining room was kept more spacious for eight guests.  I think it worked really well.

So I didn't get the best pictures of the food - too busy cooking obviously, but we managed to get a few....

The menu included an amuse bouche I have been trying perfect the flavour in (and the construction of) soy infused tempeh with wasabi sesame seeds.

I've been working on my paneer shashlik too.  I don't have the space to make my own paneer at the moment and the packet stuff is very rubbery and lacks flavour (I'm really selling it here :)  But I managed to find an awesome supplier of fresh paneer in Rusholme, so I've very happy with this dish now.  It's a shame the nasturtium season is almost over, but I'm excited to be working on a new menu for next months dining club dates. 

I made this pudding 3 or 4 times before I perfected the recipe.  For a start, I find most recipes for Banh Gan (Vietnamese coconut creme caramel) are much too sweet.  If you're using good quality coconut milk, there's a natural sweetness that needs to come through I think.  Then there's the cooking method and times.  I found the water bath technique was too much for the custard.  A nice long steam bath is what was needed.  By now it was half one in the morning but I held my patience and was justly rewarded in the end.  I love that the dining club gives you the opportunity to strive for perfection! 

This cute little pudding is making an appearance next week, alongside some gorgeous accompaniments, for my collaboration with Tampopo at the Manchester Food & Drink Festival.  

Tickets are still available, from Tampopo Albert Square or the Triangle, or via their website

There are also still a couple of places remaining for my dining club on Friday 18th November.  New dates will go on my website soon


  1. We had a lovely evening Jackie, thanks so much for taking the leap of faith to do this, see you again soon.
    Alan and Julie AKA +1 ;)

  2. Fantastic idea and good luck with the venture.