If you’ve read my about me page (or met me) you’ll know I started my food blog because one day I realised I’d become a big fat food bore (or mega enthusiast, depending on your view point). I’ll talk to anyone and everyone about what they like to eat and how they like to cook it. When I set up Foodfables I also wanted a creative project all of my own, one that was about my specific goals rather than those of clients or a publication. I hoped that there would be some challenges and adventures along the way and from venturing into vegetarianism through to working stalls at food festivals, there have been plenty so far.
My latest food adventure took me well and truly out of my comfort zone, but as with all of my blog challenges that have ended with feeling pleasantly full and more than a tad tipsy, it was one that made me really happy that I’ve stuck with blogging. I was approached to create a menu fit for a summer party held in a rather special location. While I’m perfectly happy preparing an afternoon tea or dinner party for friends I’ve not yet ventured into catering for large groups (unless you count serving pulled pork to 1,000 people in a field, which you might). So, this was a pretty big challenge. I’m what you might term a ‘rustic’ chef, which in layman’s terms means I’m lazy and clumsy and have a crap set of knives. With this in mind, I called in a little help from a chef with slightly more finesse and together we created a menu of summer party plates….
I was approached by the Lime Venue Portfolio who tasked me with seeking inspiration from one of the special venues they offer for hire for conferences, parties and exhibitions. I was specifically asked to look at their Manchester venues, from which I chose the Museum of Science & Industry because of it’s modern yet elegant banquet room.
I’ll be adding a much prettier version of this later, but the menu we decided to prepare featured food that would impress but could undergo a lot of prep in advance, making it perfect for scaling up to parties. Lime Venue Portfolio provided the money for the ingredients, though due to some last minute substitutions because I got a little overwhelmed at the supermarket, what was served on the night was:
- A welcome drink of passionfruit fizz
- Lamb pork and chicken meat pops with curry crumb, spiced paprika and lime crumb and a raita dip
- Goat’s cheese, lemon sage and squash tortellini
- A sandwich of pork and black pudding, dauphinoise potato, green apple slices and mustard foam
- Sticky toffee pudding creme brulee
Serving up as sous chef
I can be a bit bossy in the kitchen, as my friend Becs often mentions when she recounts the time I told her she’d spread too much barbecue sauce on the pizza during National Gin Day or when I enthusiastically told her to follow my caramel icing recipe e-x-a-c-t-l-y as it was written because it took me a long time to perfect it. I like to be in charge but at the same time, I also know my strengths – barbecue sauce, caramel icing – basically condiments – and my failings – presentation, knife skills, presenting small plates of food that people would eat at a party. Taking the role of sous chef was actually a lot more rewarding than I thought, mainly because it took any of the stress out of the cooking and allowed me to do little things like play around with the flavour of the curry crumb and cleaning as we went along. I also learnt that I take direction in the kitchen very well and that my blowtorch is in need of some gas.
Here’s a little look at what ‘we’ created:
I really can’t take much credit for these plates (except maybe the creme brulee, which was my conception and is something I will definitely be making again). Without the help I don’t think the menu or plates would have worked out quite so well.
This creative collaboration reminded me that I still have a lot to learn and that I want to learn and that my blog affords me the opportunity to challenge myself. And, although these photographs turned out well, they don’t nearly do justice to the food consumed on the night, and so my desire for a DSLR is growing strong once again!
What do you think? Was it a menu befitting such a banquet hall? Have you had a brulee to rival the sticky toffee? It’s certainly set the bar for my cooking a little higher and I’ll be pushing myself further on occasion from now on.