secret supper club
Shhhhh, can you keep a secret?
Last Thursday we hosted a Secret Supper Club for bloggers, fruit suppliers, farmers and M&S buyers in celebration of the launch of the 2016 British apple and pear season. We were lucky to have Monks Farm near Faversham in Kent to host the event. This is Simon Bray’s farm, where he works all year around to produce the best possible apples and pears for Marks and Spencer. Simon has won various awards for his fantastic fruit, including ‘Britain's Tastiest Apple’.
We started with a blank canvas as we were given an apple orchard to host the event in. In many ways this was great as we could do what we wanted to make the event look wonderful. However, there were a lot of logistics to sort out to enable us to make the event a success. Once the marquee was up we were able to get creative and decorate the tent. The marquee was draped with festoon lighting which lit it perfectly, creating a lovely atmosphere. We then created a bar using three large fruit crates and set up the tables. We raided the Kent countryside for fresh branches and leaves to decorate the centres of the tables, then we dotted jars and milk bottles around each table with tealights in. The marquee came together nicely and looked wonderful nestled into the orchard.
The guests started to arrive at 5:30pm and were very surprised to see the beautiful location we had for the evening. Simon Bray took a group of excited guests around the orchard, teaching them about all aspects of the apple and pear harvest, from picking and storage to their journey to the Marks and Spencer shelves. The trees were beautiful and bursting with fresh fruit ready for harvest. Towards the end of the tour the sun began to set and the sky was beautifully lit with hints of yellow and orange highlights.
Returning to the marquee, the guests had a taste of all the fruity drinks we had to offer at the bar. There was lots of choice including, apple juice, pear juice, cider and an apple & pear cocktail. All the drinks went down a treat, and were followed by a selection of canapés. Three apple and pear-themed canapés circulated the marquee with lots of positive feedback. We served pear wrapped in parma ham, apple and cheese on sticks, and homemade apple chutney & cheese on crispbreads.
Wearing a waistcoat and wellies, Marcus Bean confidently hosted and catered the evening. Marcus is a celebrity chef and owner of Brompton Cookery School. He had a fantastic team of chefs backstage working very hard to create delicious fresh pizzas for each guest. There were three pizzas to choose from, with ham hock and apple, duck and pear, and a vegetarian option of pear and walnut. All three pizzas were a popular choice with the guests. The pizzas were accompanied by a range of delicious salads. To follow, each guest had an apple & pear cobnut crumble with honeycomb.
Supper was followed by a Q&A with the apple and pear farmers. Marcus asked them a variety of interesting questions about apple and pear farming, followed by some questions asked by the guests. It was interesting to learn that hailstones can completely wipe out a crop and is the biggest risk for farmers, therefore weather is crucial for creating the best crop.
We had a large selection of apples and pears for the guests to try, such as the unique Piqa Reo pear, the classic Conference pear, Cox apples, the very cool P’apple and the beautiful Delbard Estivale apple. All these fruits are grown to The Perfect PickTM protocol, which ensures that all fruit is consistent and superior.
There was a happy and relaxed atmosphere throughout the evening, which was accompanied by fantastic music from a local music duo, Dune. It was a magical evening and a perfect way to start the British apples and pears season.