Monday, 28 February 2011

Little Acorns


I was perfect...

So we came, we cooked and we conquered. And whilst it would be cocksure to start doling out tips on how to run a supper club at this stage, after the inauguration of the very first Food Urchin Supper Club last Friday night at the Brentwood Theatre, I think I can safely give just two little tidbits of advice. The first would be that working a 22 hour shift prior to the event isn't really conducive when it comes to productivity. Or personal sanity for that matter. By my reckoning I got about 6 hours sleep over a 48 hour period and at one point in the afternoon, when I was loading the car up with pots of soup, prepared vegetables, homemade bread etc etc, I definitely had a Black Swan moment. A mirror hangs in our hallway and I swear that on more than one occasion my doppelganger was pulling faces and flicking v's as I rushed past. I tried to catch the slaphead out but he was far too cute for his own good. Sleep deprivation eh? What a killer. And I could have killed Bugs Bunny when I was chopping the carrots, I am sure that pesky wabbit kept swiping them.

Secondly, never ever put boiled potatoes in a food processor unless you plan on doing some decorating and need to hang wall paper. In the run up to the supper club when I was trying out different recipes, I become hooked on Simon Hopkinson's Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes although it's quite rich so I tinkered about with the recipe until I was happy. However, the constant and great thing about Hopkinson's recipe was his suggestion to use a food processor with the paddle attachment as this always produced a beautiful, silky smooth pomme puree. When you use a couple of spuds at a time, enough to feed say 2 people. But when you up the multiples to cater for 24 people, suddenly your food processor's capabilities get stretched somewhat. Frustrated at the time it was taking, I thought 'sod this, let's try it with the blade'. And hey presto, I got instant glue. So let this be a warning to you, whip potatoes in a frenzy and those starches will create an adhesive so strong you will be able to paste a boiler suit to a big yellow board, get into it and flip the board over the precipice of a twenty story tall building. And survive. So yes I had to do some more bloody potatoes.

But by and large the whole caboodle went off really well. Although we didn't have a kitchen as such, it is pretty amazing what you can pull together with some planning and preparation (albeit slightly delrious towards the end). Mise en place was definitely the key there. As for our guests, a healthy blend of family, friends and complete strangers, they looked and sounded like they enjoyed themselves. I know that the notion of walking in through a theatre, going backstage, past dressing rooms and up to an acting studio that's been transformed into a restaurant was certainly different for everyone. And I don't think that they were expecting the cook to come out and deliver a rant about inanimate kitchen objects either but given the surroundings I thought that a little light entertainment was in order. The best and most pleasing sign was that all the plates came back clean. OK, bar the odd lump of gristle from an ox cheek here and there but come on, I was talking to Oliver Reed when I was trimming those up earlier in the day (so funny...). There's bound to be more thrills and spills along the way but for the first time out, it wasn't all that bad. Little acorns as they say. The next one will be at Food Urchin Mansions on March 19th with only 16 places going so please get in soon if you're interested (email: foodurchin@yahoo.co.uk) we'll be releasing the menu shortly.

In the meantime I'd like to thank Mark and David at the Brentwood Theatre for accomodating us and Mrs FU, Craigwah, Caron and Papa Urchin (even if you did steal my thunder again with your puds) for everything else.

Makeshift kitchen

Props from the house and IKEA

Tables set

'Veronica' takes centre stage

Lights, action....

Papa Urchin's puds (Tunsian Orange Cake and Chocolate and Apricot Tart)

7 comments:

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Well done, Danny! A brave and and bold start, and may it lead to great things.

Still can't believe you blitzed the potatoes, though ;)

Kavey said...

Hoorah!

I emailed already.

Yes, I'm keen.

Annie said...

Great write up of what sounds like a great night!

Laughed out loud at the mash though... think most of us learn THAT lesson sooner or later... another thing I've learnt about spuds is if you bake your potatoes (having grand ideas of how much tastier the mash will be) you MUST remove the potato from the skins as soon as they are cooked. Baked potatoes left to cool in their jackets not only leads to mash that looks crap, it tastes crap too!

Dan said...

Bloody well done Danny. A real baptism of fire with those numbers. It looks amazing. Onwards!!! I look forward to hearing what the future brings.

polkadotcupcake said...

hey! i just found you, via twitter, and am much impressed! been thinking of starting a dinner club at home, in Cape Town, SA, and this post is wonderfully inspirational, thanks so much!
Laughed so much at the mash debacle, even my colleagues were giggling when I told them!

Food Urchin said...

Aforkfulofspaghetti - Thanks me dear, yes here's to little acorns eh!

Kavey - good girl, looking forward to seeing you at FU towers

Annie - you know what? I kinda knew before whacking the spub into the processor that it was a bad idea....and it was.

Dan - cheers mate, seriously, I took some of your advice on board after breakfast meeting and little wine tasting session, thanks.

Polkadotcupcake - thank you and good luck to you, definitely give it a go, great fun.

H.T.romford said...

hi mr fu, heard your supper club menu via son, was really good , he and his partner had never had ox cheek, told me it was delcious as was first course and desert.
H.T romford