A taste of Northern Ireland at the Edible Flower Supper Club
How far is too far to travel for dinner? Northern Ireland is a totally acceptable distance if it means a poke around the Edible Flower farm, some very delicious home grown food, and an intro to the best of ingredients the area has to offer.
To give some background here, Erin and Jo - collectively and interchangeably the brains and brawns behind The Edible Flower - are old university friends. About five years ago they took the leap from not-so-rural Leytonstone to the beautiful rolling hillocks of Saintfield, a village outside Belfast. Here, they have been beavering away growing a phenomenal range of product on the land and using it - alongside carefully sourced goodies from other local producers - to cook up feasts that include their incredibly popular supper clubs. And that is where I headed.
Basically, if you have ever had the "lets-flee-urban-London-and-its-chaos-for-a-rural-idlyll-where-we-can-work-the-land-and-grow-delicious-things-that-we-turn-into-more-delicious-things" type dream, these girls are living it. And living it well. There has been a lot of hard work in the past five years and the transformation of a traditional farmstead into a modern live-work-entertaining space that is as much a lesson in interior-design-how-to as it is a phenomenal horticultural machine. Despite me insisting on the full tour, my info on what is grown where on the farm and why is sadly limited (I am still that Townie who hasn't made the rural leap, and listening to The Archers will only get you so far), and I can only tell you that it is the no-dig method and that the tomatoes in the poly tunnel are the best you will have tasted.
Tell me the best start to any event is not milling around outside admiring the garden while popping homemade pretzels and mac'n'cheese croquettes in your mouth washed down with Beer Hoi?
Then to their new event space for a five course feast. We were there for the end of Harvest Supper club and, true to form, Erin and team had come up with the goods in the kitchen. I can't overstate how delicious this was - all local with courgette and green bean pakoras and tomato risotto making the most of the produce grown literally feet from where we ate.
If you were in any way hesitant about the group dynamics of a supper club, this is the one to cut your teeth at. The gallery space gets the cosy-spacious combination right while the whole farm-meets-culinary-idyll is great for dinner party chat. Plus, without slipping into cultural stereotypes, Northern Irelanders are a hell of a lot more friendly-from-the-off than the people of Leytonstone (no shade to Leytonstone).
After chocolate and blackberry tart with coffee ice cream (give me more, give me the recipe) we rolled outside to the fire pit for tea and local cheese and crackers and to plot our own rural escape. Bliss.