A few months ago, I made the decision to make the difficult step to step away from supermarkets and find alternative solutions when it comes to buying food.
I wanted better ethics, better quality, and most importantly, I wanted to stop giving my money to corporations and instead, support local, independant people dedicating their life to improving the way food is produced and sold in the UK.
“When we started Market Porter, we did it because the stuff we were buying in the supermarkets just wasn’t cutting it. We knew that there were people out there who were doing it better. People from across the UK who’ve made it their life’s work to care and get a kick from producing food that is so much better than just edible. People who deserve to get their produce into the hands of the wider British public.”
Needless to say, Market Porter’s moto resonates pretty strongly with me.
You can take my words for it. Market Porter carefully selected produce is as good as it sounds.
But then again, you don’t have to.
Instead, you could let pictures of a recent dinner I attended do the talking…
For their first-ever supperclub event, Market Porter teamed up with Young British Foodies 2015 Chef of the Year, Adam Rawson, for an unforgettable 7-course tasting menu, showcasing meat, cheese, charcuterie and chocolate from independent producers across the UK.
The lovely Table Café restaurant, a champion in its own right when it comes to commitment to impeccable sourcing and quality British ingredients made for the perfect settings for the great British wonders to come…
Starting with a few super-local cocktails highlighting the complexity and versatility of Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, a beautiful spirit brewed in small batches using only traditional gin botanicals based on recipes from the 1840s.
Paired beautifully with Square Root fantastic soda range.
All mixed expertly in front of an eager crowd, with results definitily going way beyond expectations!
The London Collins (Jensen’s Old Tom, bitters, Meyer lemon soda).
The perfect balance between sweet and tart, and one that will steal any fresh, citrusy cocktail lover’s heart.
The Britain’s Finest (Jensen’s Old Tom, Cocchi di Torino, Maraschino, orange bitters) was a bit more unexpected and possibly even better.
Basically a gin cocktail masquerading as a whisky drink and doing so well at it it’d steal a great scotch’s thunder any day.
Meanwhile in the (open) kitchen, Chef Rawson’s team were busy chopping, roasting, baking and making the most of Market Porter’s incredible offering.
Starting with a beautiful dish of Soft Highland Brie (from Highland Fine Cheeses) with oats, smoked russet apple and nasturtium.
Now, as you already know, I’m the worse French person ever and I don’t actually eat cheese, but I took it upon myself to at least try this beauty (tough job eh?).
And you know what? I LOVED IT!!
I was so subtle, and very un-brie like. Sweet and comforting, with every ingredient (crunchy, tart apple cubes, piquant nasturtium leaves, super textural oat granola and a caramelized apple puree so good I could eat bowlfuls of it at a time) bringing something to the table to make this simingly simple dish so much more than the sum of its elements.
The next dish was the one I most had my eyes on: Pork cheeks (from Lakehaven Farm) with chervil root, shallot and watercress.
A cheap, often under-estimated cut of meat that can proove so rewarding when cooked right.
Which is just what Chef Rawson’s team did and it was love at first bite for me & absolutely everyone at the table.
The meat was super tender and juicy, yet there was a freshness to it I really didn’t expect from that dish.
Quite a brilliant surprise & a great reminder that underrated cuts are definitely worth a second look.
Dorset air-dried beef (from Capreolus Fine Foods) with potato, rosemary and enoki mushroom.
Not quite as much of a crowd-pleaser than the previous dish, but possibly the most interesting one on the menu.
Charcuterie is a difficult, demanding ingredient to work with as it’s so strong in flavour and tends to overpower any other produce it’s forced to share the plate with.
Pairing it with dashi & mushroom, which have similar, deeply umami flavours to that of cured beef, accentuated those notes, making the whole thing a challenging, yet fascinated dish.
Roast chicken (from Merrifield Farm) with leek, Cornish blue (from Cornish Cheese Co) and tempura eel.
Not my favourite dish (the blue cheese was very subtle, but I’m still not the biggest fan of the slightly flour-y texture).
The eel tempura was fantastic though, a bit like super fancy, complex-tasting chips. Simply divine.
The last savoury dish, Gammon (from Lakehaven Farm) with egg, pineapple and chips, was highly anticipated, if only because unlike the rest of the menu, everyone sort of knew what to expect.
Or at least, we all thought we did.
But of course, it wasn’t quite what anyone expected…
Thick, salty gammon, crispy matchstick fries, rich orange egg yolk, chargrilled pineapple & HP brown sauce, it was all there in the plate, yet it couldn’t have tasted more different from the pub classic.
A refined, adult take on a childhood favourite and the ultimate nostalgia dish!
The thin borders between sweet and savoury were further explored with the next dish, an ode to Ocelot‘s incredible Hebridean sea salt chocolate.
(seriously guys, if you’re into Lindt’s sea salt chocolate, get your hand of this one IMMEDIATELY, it’s THE BOMB!!)
Much like the chocolate itself, the cookie & cream-inspired dessert, featuring a vibrant chocolate custard with cookie & cocoa nib crumbs and milk sauce, was deeply salty and savoury.
An absolute triumph if you ask me.
Last but not least, alittle play on the iconic Custard Cream biscuit, served with a ganache mixing custard cream filling with Creighton’s white chocolate and balanced with tart preserved orange bits.
The ultimate indulgence to finish of a beautiful meal championing British finest ingredients.
Sadly the pop-up was a very, very short affair (only two days with tickets selling like hotcakes), but a little birdie told me that there might be more coming up in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
And in the meantime, I strongly encourage you to treat yourself to a bar of that fantastic sea salt chocolate & a few more things from Market Porter incredible selection of amazing goodies from local, independant producers.
Meat, cheese, charcuterie, chocolate (and even a few Christmas goodies), they have it all and from what I tasted, I can voutch it’s all top notch quality and taste, right to the last morsel.
25/05/2017 edit – Market Porter has had a bit of a makeover and are now Heartier. They’re still the same friendly Market Porter bods, only better & heartier!