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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wow, where to begin......?

The first Candlestick Maker dinner was held last Friday at the Roundhouse Chapel in Clapton and it went superbly if I don't mind saying so myself! It was a crazy few 17 hour days leading up to it, but was worth every second. Massive thankyous to all who attended and to my awesome team, Ani, Emma & Alex who help me pull it all together, not to mention Kat who played a sort of maitre d' role whilst 'sipping' a glass of wine!

5pm sharp we crammed ourselves into a tiny kitchen and got set on all the fresh, last minute prep, finished the pigs head and got the heart and chest marinating. The meat was from an amazing butcher called Nathan ( who orders in whole rare breed animals, and prepares the cuts in the traditional old school manner. I believe the meat for Friday was from a farm in Devon. Will have more details in future!

Anyway, back to Friday, it was fantastic. The girls set the room up beautifully, with lots of candles of course. We managed to produce all the courses, nearly exactly as planned. I had hoped to pick the asparagus from a farm in Oxfordshire last week but the cold weather had delayed the PYO season, darn it. The bread I had baked the night before and was laced with coriander, cumin & orange zest and was served with a slow roasted tomato & herb salsa. The seabass was baked almost en papiotte style, in tin foil however, with julienned veg, chilli, ginger, lemongrass & lime leaves.

We served up a little cleanser of tomato jelly, orange granita and basil foam which tasted really fresh but the jelly was struggling to stay jellied due to the acidity of the tomatoes I reckon. I think agar agar will be used in future, its vegetarian and much stronger.

The pigs head had been braised for four hours at my house then we crisped up the skin and served it with the reduced broth on a bed of radish leaves and watercress. Man, it smelt good! It was a pleasure to hear all the tales afterwards. I believe Anna, a vegetarian, carved one head whilst Wooz ate an eye! I had hoped for some new culinary experiences for the diners but wasn't quite expecting that!

The onglet and bavette we served medium rare with a radish, shallot, herb and orange zest salad, whilst the ox heart was served with a herb viniagrette. Both tasted delicious, rich & flavoursome. The simple marinade of garlic and rosemary helped deepen the flavours and the freshness of the salad and viniagrette helped cut through the richness and liven up the mouth, I thought/hope! Some of the guests/friends who I spoke to were glad they'd tried heart but were confident they preferred the onglet, whilst others absolutely loved the heart!

The desserts were lots of fun too. Milk n honey panna cotta with salted caramel and chocolate milkshake followed by rhubarb meringues, tuilles & dehydrated rhubarb served with bowls of warm rhubarb compote and vanilla custard, a play on rhubarb n custard. I know these went down well, especially with comments like “it just got better and better!” (max)

I popped my head in towards the end of the mains and was so happy to see the room exactly as I had hoped, full of people, chatter & laughter, with wine & food everywhere, whilst candles provided the only illumination. I knew at that exact point that the evening was a success. Then I was spotted and was beckoned in with a round of applause which turned me a shade of rouge! I managed to hold brief chats with most people, my mind was in a fair few places all at the same time, then made a swift exit to finish the desserts.

All in all, a brilliant evening. We raised over 300 pounds for Butterflies, a charity in India who work with homeless children. Tim, who represented Butterflies whilst he was in India, presented me with a bottle of single malt which shocked me completely and I just gave him a massive hug! Thanks again to all those who attended and who helped out on the night, it has definitely inspired me and it will certainly not be the last!! Lots of lessons were learnt and lots of fun was had. This continued in the bar round the corner, who suggested tequila?!

Keep your eyes n ears, taste buds n beers at the ready and the next event will be posted soon. Please leave any comments & suggestions you have about the night and I look forward to seeing/meeting you soon


1 comment:

  1. What a warm hearted post!! Congratulation on having such a successful evening! Don't you love it when a plan comes together!? I'm loving the sound of the menu - very adventurous. Great stuff!!!