Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Drapers Arms Invasion

When the day came for The Drapers Arms Invasion, I was weirdly nervous. Nick, the owner, emailed us to let us know that a mammoth 1080 eggs had arrived for us from Clarence Court. We'd asked for 60. I could sense an eggy future. The were Cotswold Legbars; gorgeous pale blue shells and vivid orange yolks. I pushed a box on everyone leaving that evening.

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.

21 comments:

shayma said...

e brava, Lizzie. everything looks scrummy- and it must have been, erm, fun, peeling all those quail eggs ;) x shayma

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wow. Brilliant effort! It all looks hugely appetising, and I'm only sorry I couldn't be there.

Well done to all of you - amazing stuff.

Neil Davey said...

A brilliant achievement - hearty congratulations to all involved.

Gin and Crumpets said...

Amazing! Trial by quail's egg and you triumphed. Congratulations on hosting what looks and sounds like a brilliant night.

Peter said...

Proud.

Lorraine said...

It was a great evening, the quails eggs were fantastic :) there are photos on my blog if you wanted to pinch one :)

Going With My Gut said...

Good job! Some very generous food industry donors there. Well done bringing it together.

Wen

Pavel said...

Hogget sounds GOOD!

Lizzie said...

Hi Lorraine - which is your blog? I get an error message when I try and click through via your name...

Gourmet Butcher said...

Well done Lizzie and all involved with the event!! You guys all worked so hard and it's great to hear that you raised so much for such a worthy cause!! Congrats to you all once again!

meemalee said...

Brilliant - well done! You're right about chefs not eating properly too :)

By the way, the comment from Peter made me well up a bit ...

catty said...

The whole event sounds like it went very well! I have to say, pavlova - regardless of how ugly - still tastes amazing. The quail eggs also sound delish. Is that a bruise on your arm?!

Jonathan said...

What an effort. Seriously impressed. The rhubarb pavlova looks incredible.

Gail said...

Oh my, so hungry now. Looks absolutely fabulous - well done, you all worked so hard. Stars.

Gourmet Chick said...

Great work Lizzie - super impressive by you, Helen and everyone involved.

Aaron Davies said...

What a brilliant sounding - and tasty - invasion. Hogget, quails eggs, pavlova, perfect! Great job.

Lizzie said...

Thanks everyone!

Catty - yes, that is a mammoth bruise. A mean boy punched me.

Su-Lin said...

Brilliant achievement, Lizzie! Sorry I missed it.

And yes, that bruise looks ouch. :(

Helena Lee said...

Ah well bloody done - sad to have missed such a mammoth occasion! That's a brilliant amount to have raised. Hx

Food Urchin said...

Well done the lot of you, you sweaty, stinky, skinny lot.

Dan said...

Really well done Lizzie. Having now had some experience of cooking for a load of people under pressure, (although nowhere near this many) I can sympathise with how manic and daunting it can be. It's also incredibly satisfying and exhilarating. So swings and roundabouts I guess. Nice one. x