You’ll need to fish out the teeny baby chard leaves for the recipe, leaving the larger, tougher leaves for another day. Excuse the ropey photo and clumsily written recipe!
Enough spaghetti for two (greedy) people
1 large banana shallot, cut into strips
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
Large handful of baby chard leaves, washed
As well as our usual quest for good times and gluttony, this weekend we wanted to raise a bit of cash for a good cause. We invited guests to bring a dish of their choosing along with a tenner to put into the pot for our chosen organisation, Providence Row, an East London homeless charity who focus on offering rehabilitation and training.
We were lucky enough to be joined by Rani and Saira of Joginder’s Supperclub, who brought along saag paneer, chicken curry, Indian corn bread and lovely fragrant rice. Rani makes her own paneer which was fresh, luscious and lactic, and along with the delicately spiced spinach made for a totally yummy dish. The chicken, cooked slowly on the bone to an old family recipe, was equally delicious. Side dishes were lovely, with the cornbread giving a salty lift to the whole thing; throughly enjoyed!
My savoury contribution was a Malaysian tofu curry with lots of lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, dried chillis and coconut; a dish I’ve cooked a great deal and which always goes down well.
On to desserts!A delicious dark chocolate and cherry cake from Nadia, who runs her own professional catering business. The cherries were blended and mixed into the chocolate, making the cake really moist, with a hint of sweet/sour cherry. Topped with a sweet vanilla and cream cheese frosting, the cake was entirely devourable and a chocoholics fairground.
I adapted a recipe from the Ottolenghi book to make a rhubarb, honey, orange and polenta cake, which I served with Greek yoghurt. Now, much as I love the big man himself – and his team of talented chefs – I think I prefer this to the original (though it doesn’t look quite as pretty), and will definitely be making it again very soon.
We then had some intriguing ‘raw’ chocolate bars which were essentially ground nuts, sweetened with dates and honey and encased in deliciously dark chocolate…a real treat served with a strong black coffee. Mr Shed’s contribution was homemade beer, which needless to say was enjoyed by all.
Due to cancellations and a no show we were a little down on numbers, but had a great afternoon and a decadent feast regardless. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who came!
Most touchingly of all, two of our regulars who were unable to attend sent a tenner for the cause along with a lovely card; what a generous and inspiring act of kindness, especial thanks to Chris and Dave.
Vinopolis offer these funny wine tour things, which certainly aren’t for anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about, but tickets were only a tenner (half price), and it made for an amusing evening. Not that I know what I’m talking about, but I have, y’know, had wine before.
You get a 15 minute seminar on how to taste wine, which – due to its simplicity rather than my competence – mainly covered things I know already, but the woman was entertaining and I picked up a couple of nuggets of new information, but I won’t bore you with my amateurish regurgitation of her advice.
You are then set free to roam around their premises at your leisure, which are vast and interesting, and almost worth the ticket price alone. They have a big glass case FILLED with bottles of Chateau Petrus which must be worth squillions, although it doesn’t exactly represent the best way to store a barrel-load of awesome wine so I have suspicions that someone drank the good stuff and just refilled the bottles….
Anyway, there are three wine tasting areas – worlds old and new, and downright wacky – and with the basic package you have five tokens which you can exchange for a taste of what you fancy. Predictably, I went for wines that I knew I would probably like, instead of trying new things, but the range on offer isn’t huge, and I was happy to sip agreeable things rather than push the boundaries.
I liked this;
A small sleep after Gin Face retired to it’s sleeping quaters (leaving a trail of handbag contents and clothes from door to bed via bathroom), Hangover Girl emerged demanding sympathy and breakfast in equal measure. Not even this calibre of skull crushing faceache could dampen the beautiful sunny day, and Hangover Girl devoured eggs Benedict, fresh juice and strong coffee in the sunshine outside The Acoustic Cafe.
12 noon: “we should really get on with it, shouldn’t we, what to we need to buy?”
“Ack! tequila is what we need to buy. I’ll be sick.”. “No you won’t, get on with it”.
So I did (get on with it, not puke). We also managed to go out for a filling mezze snackette at Cirrik around 3pm, but that pushed me over the edge a bit and I had to go lie down in a darkened room and think about nothing.
In truth, I had already done a reasonable amount of prep, but it was still an uphill battle, with massive relief when I realised it all tasted nice and Was Going To Be Okay.
So it turns out that Alexis of Lex Eat! and Lex Cook You Eat! fame isn’t the only clever gal in her neighbourhood. The lovely Y (as I believe she is referred to in common e-parlance) is just one talented musician amongst a whole bunch of talented musicians collectively known as Motor City Revue, who host a magical motown night on the second Friday of each month.
If you travel to darkest Stepney on said second Friday, to a pub called The George Tavern, you’ll be rewarded with a “10 piece motown/northern soul/R&B/stax covers band banging out the greatest tunes known to man. Ever.” – fact. You’ll find Y and the rest of the band laying down brilliant foundations for a mesmerising vocal team lead by Kelly; that girl can SING, and sing she did until she could sing no more.
The night runs from 8pm til 3am, and when the band aren’t playing for their lives (and evidently loving every second) they’re djing 50s and 60s classics making for an additive dancathon of general awesomeness.
SO….me and my gin-face crawled in at god-knows-o’clock on Saturday morning making preparation for that evening’s Mexican meal quite interesting…