Hawksmoor – Blaggers’ Banquet

Blaggers' Banquet

Blaggers' Banquet

The Blaggers’ Banquet took place last Sunday and it was a roaring success, even if I say so myself! Most of us convened at around 11am (I was late as usual) to start prep and cooking duties, and it was really wonderful to see all of us come together for a common charitable cause, not just us bloggers, but all the really kind people who donated food for the dinner and prizes for the auction. The most heartwarming story involved the people from Fish for Thought who drove a 10 hour round trip from Cornwall on the day to deliver monkfish to us for our starter of monkfish and beetroot tartare.

And my hat off to the bloggers who were on kitchen duties – it must have been pretty pressured stuff, cooking a once off menu in a confined kitchen space for about 50 people!

All hands on deck in the kitchen

All hands on deck in the kitchen

I was ‘leek girl’ for part of the day, chopping lots of leeks. Here is a picture of my handy work.

Leeks

Leeks

And then I helped out with various canapé duties. For canapés, we served some lovely pomegranate and goat’s cheese on crispbread with vanilla salt and chives, tomato and mozarella skewers and gougeres.

Pomegranate & goat's cheese canapé

Pomegranate & goat's cheese canapé

Tomato & mozarell

Tomato & mozarella

As already mentioned, starters was a monkfish and beetroot tartare.

Monkfish & beetroot tartare

Monkfish & beetroot tartare

Mains included buffalo steaks, and lamb and beef stews. Breads were from St John Restaurant.

Buffalo steaks

Buffalo steaks

And desserts included chocolate fondants and Bompass & Parr jellies, followed by a selection of cheeses. All this was washed down with a selection of “Blaggers’ Cocktails”, ales and wines.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

Cheeses

Cheeses

So far we have raised over £3,000 for Charity Against Hunger, and hopefully we will raise more money when the auction for all the prizes that we have collected goes live. I will let you know when the auction site is ready for you to visit, so please bid generously.

Finally, thanks to Gekko the hotel recommendations website, from whom I managed to blag an afternoon tea for two at the Ritz worth £85 for the auction.


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The Modern Pantry

I remember the opening of The Modern Pantry more for its timing than anything else, for it coincided with the announcement that Lehman Brothers had gone into bankruptcy. The popular press swooped on this fact, with most calling the opening ill-timed.

A year on and thank goodness the restaurant is still here. The downstairs café area was boasting a full house on the night of our visit, although the upstairs dining room, nicely decked out in blue-grey walls, black tables and bleached wood floors, was only half full. Head chef is Kiwi Anna Hansen who previously worked with Peter Gordon at both The Sugar Club and Providores, the influences of which shows in the little fusion touches which dot her menu.

We started with a baked bee pollen crusted ricotta, pear, sorrel, endive and lucques olive salad with a Manuka honey and lemon dressing and a quinoa lavosh (a flatbread) (£7.50). The baked ricotta, with just a hint of sweet honey, was delicious. Creamy and light, it did not overwhelm the palate by being too heavy or rich. It was slightly crunchy from the pollen and resembled a fluffy savoury cheesecake. The lavosh, crispy and light, was also very tasty. The salad was dull however. The pears were sweet and firm, but barely dressed, it was difficult to taste the honey or lemon in the dressing. It was also underseasoned. Despite this, the quality of the ricotta made this dish worthwhile.

Baked bee pollen crusted ricotta

Baked bee pollen crusted ricotta

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Hix Oyster & Chop House – The 1st Pea Shoots of the Season

On Wednesday, I was invited to a an event to mark the first pea shoots from Mullens Farm for the season at Hix Oyster & Chop House. The event was hosted by the man himself, Mark Hix, and the order of the day were a number of savoury courses, all containing pea shoots. Here is what we ate and all were delicious: chilled pea shoot and spring leek soup; pea shoot, ham hock and asparagus salad; and sea trout poached in oil with wilted pea shoots, wild garlic and cucumber. There was also a dessert of floating islands with lemon sauce.

Chilled pea shoot & spring leek soup

Chilled pea shoot & spring leek soup

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The Double Club

Note: This restaurant is no longer operating.

The restaurant at The Double Club

The restaurant at The Double Club

I cannot think of a better word to describe the Double Club other than ‘cool’. No, two words: ‘real cool’. Throw in a movie star and his entourage, which included a swag of beautiful young girls at the table next to us, and it completes the picture as to how ‘cool’ this place is. That, and a fashion-conscious ‘arty’ crowd and you get the picture. Housed in an old Victorian warehouse, the Double Club is a conceptual artistic project which brings together Western and Congolese elements. Created by Carsten Höller, the Swedish-based German artist who was behind the looping slides set up in the Tate Modern a few years ago; and funded by Fondazione Prada, a non-profit organisation based in Milan; the space is divided into three parts to bring us a bar, a restaurant, and a discotheque. Within each space, it combines, but without fusing, Western and Congolese influences through the use of artistic displays and functional elements drawn from both these spheres. The spirit of the project is further enhanced by encompassing the more fundamental aspects of both cultures, that being music and food.

The design is eye-catching and dynamic. It commands your attention without demanding it. In the restaurant, the lighting is dim and demure, and attractively so. The Double Club opened on 21 November 2008, and as all artistic displays tend to do will close after a set run, in this instance after six months.

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