A taste of underground dining in Edinburgh was the catalyst for a supper club that has brought a touch of Alpine sophistication to the hills of Sheffield.
Marie-Joëlle West, a passionate cook originally from Bavaria, set up Poppyseed earlier this year after experiencing the thriving underground dining movement while living in Scotland.
Poppyseed’s monthly supper clubs are held at a secret venue in west Sheffield, revealed to those who sign up.
Diners enjoy a number of courses as part of a bespoke themed menu, served in elegant, informal and sociable surroundings.
Marie has been interested in food since a young age when she spent hours in the kitchen with her French mum who ignited her passion with nutritious yet delicious home-made food.
Her German grandparents’ artisan bakery – still thriving four generations on – was also an early source of inspiration.
Marie has lived all over Europe, including France, Switzerland, Norway and Scotland, but she and her English husband have recently moved to Sheffield.
Marie is now rediscovering the cuisine of her childhood and is keen to showcase Alpine food to the people in her new home city.
In addition to her own supper club, Marie has been guest chef at a number of others – this week at Regather’s Forgotten Cuts event and on December 15 at Whirlow Hall Farm’s Festive Feast.
She is sharing one of the highlights of the Whirlow meal: schweinsbrat’n, or roast pork, served with a dark beer sauce and spätzle, tiny pieces of egg pasta coated in buttered poppyseeds.
To give the classic recipe a festive British twist, Marie is stuffing the pork with chestnuts, bacon and mincemeat – specially made by feast organiser Helen Davies.
Marie’s dishes also feature ingredients produced by Whirlow Hall Farm and North Union Brewery.
The feast is the second in a series of seasonal gatherings hosted at Whirlow, aimed at celebrating the superb produce and makers in Sheffield.
A guest chef – on this occasion Marie – works alongside Helen to create a tasty menu using local produce.
The five-course Festive Feast, with an Anglo-German theme, kicks-off with Locksley Gin cocktails and also features fish from JH Mann, venison from Round Green Farm, vegetables and pork from Whirlow and cheese from Welbeck. The finale will be flaming mulled wine and Lebkuchen from Marie’s family bakery in Bavaria.
For tickets (priced £35) and more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Recipe by Marie-Joelle West:
Festive pork with spätzle and beer sauce
1 pork shoulder, approx 2kg
100g each of mincemeat, diced cooked chestnuts, streaky bacon, stale bread; 50ml warm milk, 1 egg, salt, pepper, marjoram, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 leek, 1 bunch parsley
330ml dark ale, 300ml stock, 50g butter, 1 tblsp plain flour
330g plain flour, 70g stone-ground semolina, 4 eggs, 100-150ml water, salt, pepper, nutmeg, 50g butter, 20g poppyseeds
Preheat fan oven to 225°C.
Soak bread in hot milk (30min) and mix with stuffing ingredients. Cut incisions sideways into pork and stuff with mix. Roll and tie shoulder. Rub salt, paprika and pepper into crackling.
Pour boiling water into a roasting tray to 2cm. Place shoulder with the crackling facing down and roast for 15min. Turn over and roast for another 10 min. Reduce oven to 150°C, scatter chopped vegetables and parsley stalks around pork and pour stock and 280ml beer into tray. Roast for 2.5 – 3 hours, basting with cooking juices every 30 min.
Rest the pork. Meanwhile, strain cooking juices and skim off most of the fat. Add remaining beer, bring to boil and reduce to about 300ml. Mix butter and flour to a paste and whisk into sauce until glossy.
Combine flour, semolina, eggs, water and pinch of salt and mix using a flat beater or wooden spoon until elastic and smooth. Rest for 1 hour. Bring salted water to a simmer and press dough in batches through a potato ricer straight into the water. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the spätzle appear at the surface. Meanwhile, melt butter in a pan with poppyseeds and seasoning. Strain the spätzle and coat with poppyseed butter.
Brush crackling with a little of the reserved roasting fat and crisp up under the grill. Slice the pork and serve with spätzle, sauce, chopped parsley and your choice of veg on the side.