Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Blaggers' Banquet

You may have read about The Blaggers' Banquet on other blogs, there was a lot of us involved. The brainchild of Niamh of Eat Like a Girl, The Blaggers' Banquet was conceived after she attended an Action Against Hunger fundraiser, and this was the charity the Banquet was supporting.

The premise was for us bloggers to blag as much free food, wine and beer from suppliers and PRs to serve to 50 people at Hawksmoor, who generously donated their restaurant and kitchen for a day and night's use. Two weeks before the actual event, I sent out a few emails to PR people and was overwhelmed with the response. I was given a pear-coloured KitchenAid (which is being auctioned online right now), 50 bottles each of Marston's Pedigree, London Pride and Innis & Gunn beers, as well as Badger Applewood cider. Not a bad haul at all.

When the actual day came, I found myself outside Hawksmoor on a Sunday at 11am. 11am! That's dedication. I was to be doing prep work and when we went inside we got straight to work sorting out the veg boxes, deciding who did what job. Alex and I were to make gougères, which we flavoured with thyme and chives. Niamh and Sig were on hand to pull us together, organise the chaos and generally run things smoothly. The afternoon plodded along and then suddenly 4pm came around as did a flurry of activity. Canapes were made; Alex and I took it in turns to kill our biceps making the choux pastry and squeezing a greasy piping bag much to our hilarity. Other canapes were crispbreads smeared with a dollop of goats cheese topped with pomegranate seeds, chives and vanilla salt. There were also skewers of tomato, mozarella and basil with a pesto dip.

Photography by Mark N -

The starter, made by Charlie of Eat My Nels, was monkfish and beetroot tartare with a tomato salsa. Fish For Thought drove it from Cornwall that very day, a mammoth 10 hour return journey, ensuring us the freshest fish possible.

The mains were buffalo steaks from Laverstoke Park with Bearnaise sauce. A lamb hotpot and a spiced winter stew, with meat from Donald Russell was made by Neil of The War On Cookbooks.

A gold-dusted chocolate fondant was made by Signe of Scandelicious, with Trish Deseine's chocolate. Topped with a quenelle of creme fraiche it was rich, fudgy and decadent. To finish off the desserts, wobbling jelly boobs from Bompas and Parr tickled us all. Lastly, cheese from Brockhill Farm, Trethowan's Dairy, Pong and Barbers 1833 made up the cheeseboard.

The bar staff did a great job of mixing up cocktails to go with the canapes. Freely flowing wines were matched with the dishes by Douglas and Denise, some of which came from the Tejo. After dinner, an auction was held for some brilliantly blagged items, like a hamper from Harrods. I think we'll all agree that the night was a complete success, pulled off amazingly well by Niamh and Sig, as well as everyone else.

The online auction is still going on, so check back on this page to get bidding on the items.


Kavey said...

Definitely some deft blagging! :)

Manuel said...

you all need an away day for the next one....ever been to Belfast?

eatmynels said...

thanks for the mention.... i'm keen to do it all again!

LexEat! said...

Still can't believe all our lovingly grated carrots never made it onto a plate! Nice to meet you!

ginandcrumpets said...

Excellent gougère action shot there. They were definitely the most popular canapé (it kills me to admit). Great night.

foodrambler said...

gorgeous gougères mmmmm