To start, we were treated to a wine tasting by the guys at Casa Leal, followed by shared starters. We almost fought over the squid, above - it was beautifully battered and fried, served with harissa and dukka. The dish that really stood out for me was the smoked duck with mustard leaves. The duck was silky smooth with a nice hit of smokiness, and served at room temperature, the fat melted nicely in the mouth. Lucikly everyone was too busy fighting over the squid to notice me scarfing it all.
A salad of blood orange, Castelmagno, pomegranate seeds, rocket and pine nuts was also a bit of a revelation. I need to get in on this citrus fruit - cheese - salad combo. I don't care much for pomegranate seeds though. They're pretty, but too much faff to bother with eating.
For our mains, we were given a choice of pork belly, baked pollack, or mutton pie. We were asked to choose a while ago to give the kitchen time to prepare the serving of 30 people at once, and boy did I face a dilemma. The obvious choice would be pork belly, but I always have pork belly and I felt that I wasn't expanding my horizons. After days and days of deliberation, I hastily typed out my 'Baked Pollack with Fregola, Saffron, Celery & Mussel Stew' and sent it off to Simon. Phew. Decision made, it's out of my hands. A couple days later, Simon contacted me to say he'd lost my menu choices. Oh crap. I had a chance to make a U-turn.
I'm glad I stuck to my guns, as I saw a look of envy or two darted over from Helen and Niamh. The fish was very fresh and beatifully cooked, flaking away from the crispy skin perfectly. The fregola provided some great texture and soaked up the sauce well (where can I get me some?) and the fat, juicy mussels were a generous portion.
To top this all off, some lovely cheese was served with homemade oat biscuits. As if that wasn't enough, we also had a parfait served with tea from the Rare Tea Company which provided a light and refreshing almost end, followed by a creamy, surprisingly light buttermilk sponge with stewed rhubarb to finish. Oof.
But that wasn't all. We were generously given goody bags, laden with gifts galore; Olorose sherry, Jelly Belly beans, Trees Can't Dance chilli sauce, and other such treats.
All in all, a great evening out. Dos Hermanos and Vinoteca combined were most excellent hosts.
Read other posts about the evening here, here and of course, on the Dos Hermanos blog. They now have a Facebook group for future events.