Monday, 15 August 2011

Mama Lan's Supper Club

Whilst I was in the middle of a bout of shameless self-promotion on Friday, someone asked me if I’d be writing this up. I said, quite tactlessly, that I’d only be writing it up if I had something to say. This was followed by a short stunned pause in which time I realised how what I said would’ve sounded to other people. I hastily qualified that what I meant by that was that I’d only write it up if I could find a fun angle to write it from instead of just saying ‘this was really good and so was this and so was that’ (because it was all really good). I’ve tried in vain to think of an interesting angle to write this from. I thought maybe I’d start by writing about how long it took me to learn to use chopsticks (19 years of avoidance then I learnt in about 10 minutes at Sojo when I was with a friend who is self conscious and gets embarrassed about silly things) but then I’m very aware of trying not to sound annoying. I thought I was getting better at the non-annoying bit but I feel it’s gone a little awry, especially in the last entry. But anyway, despite my lack of ‘angle’, I want to write about it. It was my first ever supper club dinner after all.

Getting there was stressful. I was terrified that we’d miss the train because my perpetually late friend was late again. And in the midst of the worry/hurry, I totally forgot to get any wine despite living literally upstairs from a Tesco Express. Oh, and the fact that there’s a stock of what I presume is good grown up not £5 wine where I live. So the journey involved rushing to a corner shop in north London and trying to find something which looked drinkable.
When we got there, I was a little surprised to find that all the other parties there had at least one connection to Mama Lan. We had none. My friend hadn’t even looked at her website before. So I was a little paranoid that all our fellow diners thought we were weird for turning up at a stranger’s house for dinner. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I was stressing that Ning herself thought I was a heartless bitch because she had to help MY friend with her cases up the stairs because it had slipped my mind to offer (careless, not selfish). But all of these worries soon slipped away. I’m very conscious of the fact that my last entry was far too long and also of the fact that I have no good and few passable photos to break my babbling up. So I will limit this to the best bits.

Tofu with cabbage and chilli. MAN ALIVE this was good. This was the first time I’ve ever eaten tofu – I don’t understand why it has such a bad reputation. It was spicy and vinegary and had a lovely texture. It’s not often that I prefer the vegetarian option (especially when the meat alternative is also delicious) but here I definitely did.

Green apple sorbet. 20 years of hating sorbet (probably more in concept than actuality) then two good ones in one week. It was the perfect balance of tangy and sweet and tasted so fresh! All the goodness of apple without the effort of chewing. I gave myself brain freeze from eating it too quickly. Calippo could really learn a lesson from these guys.

Cane sugar ice cream. I’ve sneakily avoided going back to Bangladesh for about 3 years now. But that means it’s been that long since I had sugar cane. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands and face drenched in sticky sugar cane syrup. It’s great fun! This ice cream brought back lots of memories of doing that. I would’ve gladly guzzled this with my hands. This second comparison sounds less complimentary but I mean it wholeheartedly as a compliment. You know how cheap vanilla ice cream tastes really good but not in the same way that vanilla ice cream does? Cane sugar ice cream tasted like someone had seized the magic of crap vanilla ice cream and concentrated it and ended up with something really, really good. Oh and it had an added bonus of being healthier than an ice cream made with normal sugar. But tasted much better (which the healthy alternative doesn’t usually do)

So my first supper club experience was a great success. The food was delicious and the demonstration of how to make the lazy dragon main course was an added treat. And of course, the company. We were initially very aware of being the youngest people there. We’re not used to hanging out with Real People. Friday’s dinner guests and my temporary flatmates are kindly showing me that being a Real Person/Proper Grown Up is actually swell. I’m looking forward to it!

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