I’m just curled up at home, watching through parted fingers as Vana, Joseph and the other candidates on The Apprentice make a right pig’s ear of this week’s task. This time last week, I was also thinking about pig’s ears, heads, liver and much more…
You see, I spent last Wednesday night pigging out, quite literally, at Regather Works. I was invited along to check out the first of their new monthly supper club, called Forgotten Cuts; this has been established to showcase forgotten, under-used and under-rated cuts of meat and their cooking techniques.
Regather is based on Club Garden Road just off Sharrow Lane, tucked in behind London Road. A local co-operative, owned and run by its members, Regather run a range of activities, such as outdoor events (e.g. The Folk Forest, involved in Peace in the Park), a fruit and veg box scheme based on Sheffield-grown produce, have their own craft brewery and now a new venue – The Regather Works, home of Forgotten Cuts.
The plan is that, each month, Forgotten Cuts will feature a guest chef, focusing on a particular animal or type of meat. They’re working with local producers and suppliers to deliver local, seasonal and high-quality food- and at a very reasonable price (£25 for three courses was this month’s cost).
The guest chef at Forgotten Cuts #1 was Marie-Joelle West from Poppyseed. She created a menu featuring several Oktoberfest classics using pork produced by Moss Valley Fine Meats; they’re a very local supplier, based at Povey Farm, Lightwood, about 5 miles away.
There were about 20 of us there, a good mix of people and ages, all sat on one long table upstairs in Regather Works. We had a charming couple, Liza and Steve, next to us on one side, who were friendly and funny; it was a new experience to dine with strangers, as is the supperclub set up, but we lucked out with these two. We settled in, ordered some drinks (boozy and soft drinks available) and waited with anticipation for our starter.
Our starter was a sharing platter. Big wooden boards, heaving with delicious-looking bites, were set down in the centre of the table, sharing one platter between four. This featured a pig’s head, ham & parsley terrine with apple sauce; pork liver pâté on bread crisps; spinach soup with pork crackling and croutons; and a bowl of pickled vegetables.
I started with the pâté and it was deliciously rich, punchy and well-seasoned. In fact, the seasoning across every dish on the night was bang on. The pig’s head terrine, which was meaty and punchy, was my favourite porky item on the starter. I wasn’t really squeamish about it being pig’s head (insert your favourite David Cameron joke here) and could easily have eaten a whole board’s worth of it. I may copy the idea of presenting it on lettuce leaves, for those times when carbs are out of the question. I even enjoyed the jelly on the edges of the terrine, which is a big step for me.
I also surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the spinach soup. I love spinach but wasn’t convinced of the idea of a soup based on it. Thanks to Marie-Joelle’s skillful seasoning, and the cute presentation of it in a little flowerpot, the soup and I got along very well. It tasted super-fresh, too. The crackling with it was delicious; you can’t beat crackling when it’s well-made. The little crunchy, salty morsels of fatty awesomeness were so good!
The pickled veg felt like a virtuous addition to the starter and provided a nice change in texture- though the pickled onion I ate was at the eye-watering end of the vinegary scale. Which is great if you’re into that sort of thing, of course.
The arrival of the main course, the wittily-titled Hock ‘n’ Roll, brought both joy and dread. Joy because, well, just look at the size of this ham hock:
And dread because, well, just look at the size of that ham hock. I knew the meat sweats would surely be catching up with me. Still, I picked up my cutlery and did the honourable thing.
The pork shanks/ham hocks braised in Regather’s pale ale (based on the German classic, Schweinshaxen, an Oktoberfest staple) were served with bread dumplings. These were made using Forge Bakehouse bread- a mixture of baguette, ciabatta and sourdough- that was a few days old, which Marie-Joelle soaked in hot milk the night before the supperclub. The dumplings were surprisingly light and didn’t taste like they’d been bound together using wallpaper paste, unlike the claggy ones I’ve had elsewhere.
The braised red cabbage and beer gravy that were served with this were great complements to the meat. I was grateful for the little jug of additional gravy that each couple were given.
Though it was tricky to tackle the meat without a steak knife, I persevered and finished the lot. Despite knowing dessert was right around the corner, I just couldn’t help myself, it was so tasty. Steve and Liza next door were wise and asked for a doggy bag.
Dessert was another Oktoberfest classic of farmer’s doughnuts, served with an apple and elderberry compote. Though I wasn’t mad keen on the presentation (that said, how fancy can you make a doughnut look?), the flavours in the compote were great- again, skillful use of spice by Marie-Joelle. And, keeping on-theme, the doughnuts were fried in pork fat.
The doughnut was light around the edges and more dense in the centre. Unsurprisingly, given the amount of meat I’d consumed, I couldn’t finish the job here (I gave it a good go, though).
I really enjoyed the evening and my first supperclub experience. It was good to be forced out of my midweek thoughts about work and to make conversation with strangers for a few hours over a delicious meal.
The talks we had, from Marie-Joelle and also from Stephen from Moss Valley Fine Meats, were informative and allowed us to feel really connected with them and with our food. It was a great showcase of the high-quality local ingredients that we are lucky to have here in Sheffield.
And the quirky setting added some atmosphere to proceedings- Regather Works used to be a little mesters building, where horn handles were produced. There’s an original sodium street light inside Regather Works, gifted to them by Amey when it was removed from outside to be replaced; it casts a pleasant orange glow over the dining table (yes, it works).
There’s a great range of upcoming events at Regather Works; foodie events are detailed below, check out the website for more info and to buy tickets. Future Forgotten Cuts nights are on Wednesday 11 November, when the focus will be on venison, and on Wednesday 9 December, when the meat du jour will be turkey (what else?!).
Thanks to Tim at Regather for inviting us along, Marie-Joelle for the awesome cooking, Stephen at Moss Valley for their wonderful produce and Liza and Steve for being so chatty and pleasant. I look forward to trying more of what Regather has to offer in future.
Other events at Regather Works
Next events: Wednesday 18 November, Wednesday 16 December
Come and join us to enjoy a 4 course vegan supper packed full of local, seasonal and organic produce grown by Sheffield and Yorkshire market gardeners and cooked by our guest chefs. Following the meal there will be a short presentation and Q & A session with guest speakers about vegetarian growing/cooking and sustainable local food systems. Currently on no. 10 of the Eating Seasonally series.
A new series centered around vegan cooking, with a three-course sit down meal. Featuring well-known chefs whose cookery is widely enjoyed by Sheffield’s vegetarian and vegan folk. Jonny has cooked at the Blue Moon for over 4 years, prepared fundraising lunches for Sheffield Animal Friends, and helped run the super tasty Vegan Food Fair at the Quaker Meeting House. A recent venture, working together with his friend Laurence, was a series of Winter and Spring supper clubs earlier this year at Bragazzi’s on Abbeydale Road.
Wednesday 28 October, Wednesday 25 November