Sarah Hardy samples an intimate Table for Two at Hodson and Co in Aylsham
Where did you go?
A friend and I were among the first to try Charlie Hodson’s Table For Two at his deli in Aylsham. A weekly event, it is a private table, with Charlie as your personal chef.
What’s the vibe?
The deli is on Red Lion Street in the heart of Aylsham, and is set in a lovely old building with plenty of original features still intact. The table is set among all the cheeses, chutneys, coffees and more.
Who’s in the team?
It’s Charlie front and centre on the night as he prepares, serves and clears up the food!
What do we need to know about the menu?
It is a carefully devised six course meal centred around the deli’s star attraction – cheese. It includes many local producers such as Wild Knight vodka and Staithe Smokehouse – and local cheeses, of courses. Charlie will talk to you beforehand to note any likes or dislikes. The majority of courses are accompanied by wines from TFW Fine Wines, an independent wine merchant, based in North Norfolk.
What’s the price?
It costs £120 for two, including the wines and the deli’s own blend coffee, to finish.
We began with pan fried smoked Staithe Smokehouse scallops, Jolly Farmer asparagus with St Cera croquettes which all tasted as good as it looked, with the croquettes cutting through smokiness of the accompanying ingredients.
It was served with a shot of Wild Knight vodka which proved to be a sharp, clean addition.
We followed with a little Fruit Pig white pudding and Buffalo Cheddar cheese tart which was suitably soft and gooey, with lovely, buttery pastry – this was my friend’s favourite! A white rioja, The Qvinto, was served to complement the peppery notes of the white pudding and the creamy cheese.
Next up was a hot chorizo gnocchi with Crottin Champignou which was another hit, with the gnocchi and French creamy goat’s cheese blending together into a heavenly little dish! It was served with a glass of Chateau Bonnet, a white Bordeaux which was fresh and fruity.
We moved onto a clever dish, a deconstructed curry, with Tim Allen pork belly, Piccalilli and alpine risotto. There was a spicy chilli sauce, too, which was great with the crispy pork. I loved it, especially the zesty cauliflower. The course was brought to life with a glass of Le Sentier Pinot Noir from the Languedoc which didn’t overpower but rather subtly enhanced all those complex flavours!
Next saw a cheese course, served on a chunky wooden board, with St Jude’s, a raw milk cheese from Suffolk, centre stage, plus homemade pear and tomato chutney, medley jelly and sourdough crackers from St Peters. There was a lot of ohhing and ahhing here as we tucked into the runny cheese, scraping everyone last bit up! It was served with a measure of Nelson Gold vodka, on ice, which was a lovely sweet.
Finally, and yes, we were reaching bursting point, was a lovely portion of sticky toffee pudding with Parmesan rolled ice cream! The ice cream was a real talking point and an unexpectedly tasty addition! And this was served with a dessert wine, Alcyone from Uruguay.
What about dietary requirements?
Charlie will work with any such requirements as this is a bespoke service.
Tell us about the drinks
Tanja Wright of TFW Fine Wines has put a lot of efforts into creating a complimentary wine list, which brings out the best of each dish.
Anything else we need to know?
The Table for Two is available every Thursday evening.
This is a perfect experience for foodies who want to know about the provenance of the ingredients and cooking techniques used involved in creating their menu. Charlie loves to talk and you are quickly swept up in all his enthusiasm.