You might expect to see this fancy crowd a few miles up the hill sipping crystal in the debenture enclosure of the All England Club. Instead, it was an industrial estate in Wimbledon that had these lucky food enthusiasts licking their lips.
Leading Sardinian and Italian artisan food importer, Vallebona, has been holding regular pop up events for some time now, and they sell out fast.
Customer’s and good friends of ours, we’ve known Vallebona for some time now and had a small hand in providing some of their retail display fixtures and fittings (see the results in Two days to turn an empty space into an Italian pop-up market). We also had a company wine tasting there a while back, so when company owner Stefano invited a couple of us to join him for a Pop Up demonstration with Japanese Fusion Chef Yoshiko Wada, we said yes without having to consult a menu.
Not only do I love a pop up, but Japanese fusion ticks all my boxes. Wada took to the culinary stage having designed a menu to knock socks off. More of a divine tasting session than a demonstration per se – I’d have liked to seen the master in action, but much of the food seemed pre-prepared or so fresh there was no cooking to demonstrate. It didn’t matter though, by the time the first morsel of heaven hit your pallet, you’d forgotten about the ‘how’ it was made anyway. The food was just perfect, the combination between the subtle flavours of Asia and the simplicity of Italian cooking really is a match made in heaven. Who’d have thought it? For once it was easy to forget about the wine Stefano was plying us with – Wada’s food took centre court.
Here are a few pictures I managed to snap between mouthfuls. To see prettier ones, head over to Vallebona’s blog here where Tom Rogers has taken far better.
- Roasted beetroot ravioli filled with snow crab meat, yuzu & wasabi mayo
- Gyu-tataki beef fillet tataki served with fried garlic, spring onion and ginger ponzu
- Saikyouyaki maki sushi rolled sushi with grilled black cod, shiso and pickled ginger
- Yosedako tender cooked octopus served with salad leaves and yuzukohou dressing
- Spicy tuna tartar served on crispy rice cake with shiso & chive
- Hirame & bottarga halibut sashimi served with bottarga, lardo, radish and mascarpone & anchovies sauce
- Mix Japanese mushrooms tempura served with truffle salt
- Wagyu scotch egg served with teriyaki plum sauce
Vallebona’s space is warm and inviting; the decor insanely modern and industrial (just the way I like it) yet functional too. I should say though, not entirely unrelated, it was a real pleasure to see so many of our retail fixtures and fittings and well merchandised props scattered around in a way that brought cohesion and unity and effortlessly moves visitors through the space in a logical fashion.
As I said, Vallebona pop ups sell out fast and I’m told they’re looking to limit numbers to 40/50 guests only, so do email firstname.lastname@example.org to keep up with upcoming events and get in there quick! They really are a fantastically communal way to spend a Friday evening out with friends – a self described ‘mingle’ rather than full on sit down meal. You’ll enjoy the demo, you’ll enjoy communing with like-minded foodies. You’ll love the food, and it’s all followed by an Italian spread of artisan cheeses and meats especially chosen by the Vallbona team. If you are a deli or cafe, this could be a great way to source your produce, besides it being a great night in itself – it would make a fab staff night out.
At the end of the night don’t be too surprised if you find yourself with a shopping basket in your hand, buying up a larder full of delectable bits and pieces to take home. Or maybe that was just me.
Thanks to the Vallebona team for a great night out.
Pop up demo evening cost £40 a head including the 45 min demo, the buffet and a complementary glass of wine.
If you’re interested in booking Yoshiko Wada for a private event in your home or elsewhere you can contact her at: email@example.com ritsuko.co.uk