The sunshine blazing, we got to work in the cellar, separating out the fruit and veg boxes kindly donated by Riverford. It was a flurry of fruit flying around, a frenzy of activity.
The very first thing we did was to give the 6 shoulders of hogget, from the hugely generous Donald Russell a good 4 hour bathing in red wine, leeks, onions and carrots. They then went into a low oven to be braised until it was tender enough for the meat to fall off the bone. Then, we got to work making the super rich, super fudgy chocolate brownies, melting huge vats of chocolate from Green & Blacks.
Helen and I spent a good 2 or 3 hours boiling, peeling and halving quails eggs for canapes. Poor Helen spent a further hour stuffing them with the mixture I'd made using the yolks, creme fraiche, smoked salmon from Donald Russell, spring onions, lemon and parsley. There were millions of them and I didn't even manage to get a photo of the final product.
Bread from Kindred in Herne Hill arrived still warm and smelling gorgeous. The walnut bread was sliced thinly and dill sour cream was smeared on, to be topped with flakes of soused mackerel and herring. Lumpfish caviar pepped it up some.
A last minute panic ensued when the supplier of our ham hocks and trotters for us to make the starter simply forgot to send them to us. Luckily, Polpo stepped up to the plate and donated us enough terrine for 55 - superstars. Perhaps a bit of a cheat on our part, but we were in some dire straits. We fancied up the plates with a fennel and orange salad - it is HARD dividing a bowl of salad into 55.
The meat from the hogget shoulders were removed, the sauce reduced. Loins of hogget were also sent to us and these were started in a hot pan, then roasted in the oven until they could be sliced nice and pink. The platters were then sprinkled with gremolata for a bit of freshness. Sides of purple sprouting broccoli and swiss chard were steamed and tossed in garlic butter. Jersey royals got the same treatment, plus a sprinkling of parsley and mint.
A truckle of Stichelton donated by Welbeck Farm Shop was enormous and well received with Peter's Yard Crispbreads and onion chutney from Tracklements.
Rhubarb pavlova was perhaps not the prettiest, but dolloped with whipped cream, the chewy meringue made by Ollie and James sweetened up the tart rhubarb and orange sauce. Brownies followed swiftly with bowls of Rodda's clotted cream to really finish our guests off.
Wines donated by Bibendum Wine, Berkmann Wine Cellars, and wines from Rioja and Germany were gulped down. Beer from Meantime, Innes & Gunn, Duvel, and Westons cider were, presumably devoured, given the happy faces I caught a glimpse of.
We raised £2000.35 in total for Action Against Hunger, a pretty damn good achievement. Thanks, of course, go to The Drapers Arms but also to their lovely chef James who lent us a helping hand and made everything look easy (it wasn't). Also, their brilliant KP who saw us in a sticky time-pressured situation and scrubbed about a million potatoes for us as well as all the washing up. Thanks also goes to We Got Tickets who agreed to donate 20% of the booking fee to Action Against Hunger.
Gone midnight that evening, I fell into my front door and headed straight for the shower, a sweaty, smelly mess. I realised we'd eaten nothing but scraps all day. I had always wondered how it was possible there were so many slim chefs.