Pay What You Can Supper Club at Home Ground Kitchen

For those of you who don’t know, there's a new secret kitchen down Gotham Ally in Hastings, almost opposite The Printworks. This kitchen offers a themed daily menu of delicious and nourishing food for the body and soul, open every weekday for lunch, and then on select weeknights and weekends for pop-up foodie events.

On Friday 27th September, Home Ground Kitchen opened its doors for their very first pay what you can, surplus vegetable themed supper club, and what a treat it was. The communal style of tables made this a perfect opportunity to meet new local people and maybe even leave with some new friends! I was sat with an incredibly interesting and creative group of people consisting of musicians, carpenters, potters, and painters who were all so friendly and chatty which added to an already splendid evening.

The menu was kept a secret until the food was served in front of you which was really exciting. You could feel a real buzz between courses of people speculating what might be coming next. Every course was entirely vegetarian, and Kate, the lady who organised the evening, checked with everyone beforehand if there were any other dietary requirements.

When we arrived, we were greeted with delicious fermented salsa with tortilla and sweet potato chips. The perfect ‘getting to know your fellow diners’ welcome bite.

The first course was lettuce soup with lettuce pesto, croutons and Northiam whole milk. As a big soup lover, I can honestly say it was one of the best soups I’ve had. It was perfectly balanced with being full of flavour without being heavy. The pesto on top was nothing short of dreamy.

The prima piatti was a Mushroom risotto with roasted mushrooms and a red wine reduction, topped with a couple of vegetable crisps and cheese. I think I could have eaten a portion 10x the size of that and still not been bored. Mushroom risotto is a gift from the gods, and I am a glutton.

The main course was roasted tomato and beetroot galettes with zingy carrot and pomegranate slaw and new potatoes in a butter emulsion. This dish had a beautiful sweetness to it that made it a perfect transition from main and on to the dessert.

Dessert was a beautiful milk and honey parfait with fig compote, fresh honeycomb and pomegranate. This is not typically something I would have chosen in a restaurant from a menu, but that is the beauty of an event like this. I tried so many things that were completely out of the norm for me, and loved every single one!

The bulk of the surplus was vegetables from Home Ground Kitchen’s greengrocers, Carroll’s (on Old London Road), Jay who works there did a great job of selecting the veg and added things such as herbs which did a lot to elevate the dishes. Other items were carried over from Home Ground's canteen - as they don't open weekends they do try and find ways to limit their waste.

Nicky always makes her amazing fermented salsa when they have tomatoes and peppers that won't get through the weekend, making for the perfect pre-dinner appetiser. The fig compote for the dessert was made a few days in advance after they were surplus from an external catering job. Home Ground Kitchen said, “we’ve all been shocked by the waste generated by one-off events and we always try our best to limit this.” The milk for the parfait was surplus from their coffee bar that week which is supplied by the lovely local dairy Northiam.

As well as their surplus ingredients, they used some store cupboard ingredients and lots of creativity to bring the four dishes together. For this event, HGK worked with the great local chef, Tim Eason who brought brilliant ingenuity and technical experience to really get the best out of the ingredients.

When asking the lovely Kate when the next supper club will be running, she said, “The feedback and reception to the first event was so great we've been encouraged to do another supper this year. We're planning one for 29th November and will be posting details on our social media soon, the best place to look for information and book is Instagram and Facebook, people can also email to find out more.”