Before we started our supper club back in 2009, Charlie and Evelyn's Table was simply our dining table. It once belonged to C's grandparents, the real Charlie and Evelyn. As a newly married couple who loved to eat, it quickly became the witness to many post-work suppers, lazy Sunday breakfasts, and fun parties while its chairs hosted a multitude of family and friends.
In some ways, hosting a supper club came very naturally to two people who genuinely enjoy sharing their hospitality and, when there wasn't a supper club to visit in Edinburgh, it was an irresistible challenge. The idea became real and grew quickly, we moved house, got a bigger table, welcomed two little girls to our family and continued hosting supper clubs whenever we could.
The experiences added fuel to our dream to work with each other in food and after welcoming hundreds of diners, we made a bold move to London where C completely retrained as a chef.
Later today, we're officially launching that dream, our new venture Ballintaggart Farm. It's a magical and beautiful destination where you can come to stay, host or attend an event, eat or learn to cook memorable and delicious food and soak up the spectacular views.
It seems right to close this blog with a scant reflection of our journey so far, especially for those readers who are new to our story and to show you that Charlie and Evelyn's Table remains a very important part of what we do. It's now where we serve our guests' breakfast and from here our adventures in life and in food continue.
We hope to see you all soon.
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
If you’re an ardent follower, you may have already read about Chris’s experiences working at some rather special restaurants in Cornwall over on the Leiths blog way back at Easter time, it seems a long time ago now.
However, spurred on by the end of term and the dream of Summer holidays I thought I ‘d carry myself (and you) back to the beautiful beaches and sunshine of our first visit to Cornwall. It certainly won’t be our last. If you’re planning a trip, you’re in for a treat and if you like even some of the same things we do, make a note of some of our highlights. Here's part one.
Chris had an incredible time working at three of Cornwall’s finest dining establishments and we managed to eat at The Seafood Restaurant (Rick and Jill Stein’s legendary institution), The Mariner’s, Rock (Nathan Outlaw’s venture with Sharp’s brewery) and Rojanos (a great Italian with Paul Ainsworth at the helm). We would have loved a chance (and a babysitter) to dine at the new, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw (2 Michelin star) with its outstanding tasting menu and Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (1 Michelin star) which serves the daily catch in a tempting and unusual range of sharing plates, both in Port Issac. Chris did his share of tasting while working in the kitchen but I’ve also got Paul Ainsworth at No 6 (also 1 Michelin star) firmly on my wish list.
A feast on the beach
Aside from the classic homemade picnic complete with sandy sandwiches, head to The Hidden Hut. It feels like such a perfect discovery, you can’t drive to it, only walk along the cliff tops. It’s pretty, exposed, welcoming and delicious and you will leave satisfied by the sea air, the view, and the menu. Whether it’s a hearty bowl of soup, a scrumptious salad or a cake you fancy. Be sure to stop by its sister coffee shack and grab an impressive caffeine fix and a pastry at Tatums to fuel your cliff top amble or beach walk.
We were utterly convinced by our first taste of Camel Valley’s Rose as part of our evening of indulgence at The Seafood Restaurant and we headed to the vineyard, to see and sample more for ourselves before waving Chris off on his final long marathon training run along the Camel Route. It’s not hard to see why it’s won so many awards or to fall for it’s family-run charms, beautiful setting and excellent vintages. The Lindo family has lived and worked here sine 1982 and it’s a place created with genuine love and passion. Annie, the matriarch of the family has even tended every vine in “Annie’s vineyard” by hand. By hand! Daily tastings are available and more extensive wine tours too or you can just taste and shop!
The freshest catch
Our favourite spot for lunch is Loch Leven Seafood Café and it’s pretty difficult to find anywhere that replicates the incredibly fresh ingredients from the ocean’s larder and simple, careful preparation which is also suitable for a hungry family straight from the beach. We found it here, Fresh from the sea, Port Issac. Go, enjoy and if you’re lucky, watch the fishermen of the Mary D, the boat which supplies the restaurant, deliver the daily catch.
There's so much to say there will be a part two but for now, we'd love you to share your top Summer in Cornwall or other holiday tips!
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
It’s such an obvious thing that time passes, that it shouldn’t really be incomprehensible and yet it is. Our baby girls are now four and two and the anticipation and excitement we felt embarking on our London adventures is now replaced with feelings rather like a swinging pendulum. At one extreme, settled and “at home” here, adoring the sunshine, the endless list of things to see, do and be inspired by and being close to old friends and making new ones and then, in a swing, missing our Edinburgh home, longing to see our families and friends, to take deep breaths of cool, fresh air and gulps of Scottish tap water, to really watch the sunset and to be back cooking in our beautiful kitchen!
Then, there’s the exhaustion that comes after that intense “end of term” feeling, new skills, new knowledge, new standards, so much cooking, an ambitious portfolio of dishes, exams, planning and delivering for private clients and a new foray into teaching classes as diverse as fish masterclasses and pasta making and for me, a chance to revive my love of writing with some fantastic chefs looking to document and promote their work.
It’s still sinking in that it’s over and graduation last week only made it seem more surreal in many ways as Chris was delighted and surprised in the loveliest way by the presentation of the Laurent-Perrier Champagne award for Best Overall Graduate of the Year 2015. As if the impact Leiths has had needed any further confirmation, his name is now on the board which hangs in the Leiths hallways. I’m proud beyond words (and can’t wait to extend the celebrations with the prize, a trip to Champagne!)
And then there’s the inevitable what next? As Chris’s reputation grows, his diary is filling fast with a broad range of private cheffing appointments and catering events, he is also revelling in the continued opportunities to pass on his new skills, teaching culinary arts alongside Ursula Ferrigno, at Billingsgate Seafood School, Waitrose Cookery School and making a speedy return to Leiths to teach. We are busy, as always, but we are also immensely enjoying what remains of our chapter here in London before we return to Scotland to look for premises from which to fully realise our ambitions with our dream business.
Sunday, 8 March 2015
Although the chefs were hard at work inside Leiths Portobello, it was a sunglasses and scarves kind of day outside with Spring springing on every corner for our London debut.
We transformed what is usually an exciting test kitchen into a restaurant kitchen and the meeting/conference space into an atmospheric venue with hessian runners, olive branches, rosemary sprigs and soft candlelight. All before we welcomed a happy gaggle of guests for an incredible Italian feast created and prepared by Chris and fellow Diploma students, Johanne and Alona. They looked so at home in the cavernous kitchen and believe me when I say they did an amazing job. They were calm, professional and created big flavours and vibrant plates with great passion and skill before an epic and late night clear up mission.
The vibe was relaxed, easy, not at all how you might imagine a group of random diners in an industrial unit. We really cherish the power of food to bring people together and watching guests sharing heaped anti pasti platters and breaking sensational bread together was a real treat which only continued as the night and the plates rolled on. There was even an improptu serenading of our resident birthday girl, in true Itailian style! Here's what guests ate and how it looked...
Although this morning didn't start with the wished for lie in (and rather with Eva smashing nail varnish onto the carpet - eek), we feel a hazy, happy tiredness and very thankful for such a warm welcome to London. A special mention for the support of the diners, friends old and new and our chosen charity the MS Society, for the brilliant dedication of Alona and Johanne and for our dear, Edinburgh friends who looked after our chicken pox ridden girl and sleep resisting pre-schooler. We're wondering what the real Charlie and Evelyn might make of this too. Now that's a happy Sunday (and shhh, don't remind Chris he just needs to run 26 miles now).