Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Big Night

So come 7.30 we were ready to rock and roll, not sure if what we were doing was going to work, taking a massive gamble (as were our guests) but also incredibly excited for what could be the first of many...

I suppose the best way to describe it is to document the evening through the medium of photos:

Table set...

Table ready....


Lite Bites

Polenta Crostini with Black Olive & Tomato Salsa 

Prawn Noodle Gremolata

  Smoked Salmon Mousse and Cucumber

Hard at work...

Scallop Tartare with White Chocolate Foam

Cider Braised Chicken with Chorizo & Celeriac Mash

Tarte au Citron (stupid flash)

Coffee and Petits Fours

Cinnamon Palmiers, Strawberry & Vanilla Meringues, Chocolate Truffles. Served on a plate on a notepad.

Our delightful guests

We had a fantastic evening and there were some great surprises. Firstly we expected people would just stick to their own wine but actually they all shared and were able to enjoy each other's wine. Something you wouldn't get in a conventional restaurant. Secondly, people are really interesting. I suppose you don't come along to one of these without being somewhat social and each and everyone of our guests joined in, socialised and seemed to have fun from the off. No awkwardness, just 8 people (ourselves included) all getting involved and sharing something new.

And finally, an interesting point was that people would like to see us sit down with them and eat to involve us more and get to know us. Our the table is in our kitchen/living room so we can join in but I don't think that you do as much as when you sit down. So that may be something to look at in the future.

And to top it all off, Hannah got called into work at 10pm! Just as the coffee was going out.

We will definitely be setting another date for May so watch out!

Are We? Aren't we?

So it was a late Thursday evening with minimal food in the house (the food was being delivered the next morning) that the prep began.Ideally I would have done the tart base but had no butter annoyingly.

My first ever attempt at meringues went fine if a little large for one mouthful as a Petit Four. There seems to be so much of a mystique surrounding these and I don't see what the fuss is about. Whisking eggs, adding sugar and a dash of vanilla and putting in the oven. But due to them growing in the oven I did another batch which worked even better.

My first attempt. Supposed to be 'walnut' sized but that didn't happen!

Then onto truffles, which this time I quenelled rather than piped. I have a rubbish little piping bag which I used last time. Wouldn't quenelle again as you don't as good a finish when you shape and dip them.

(My first go a few weeks ago when the weather was better).

The Friday started early and according to plan until lunchtime when the pastry which had been rolled between two sheets of greaseproof paper decided to get the paper wedge in to cracks which meant the pastry just disintegrated before being put into the case. Lesson learnt - don't trust Heston when it comes to pastry and don't put it in the freezer. It too me half an hour to roll it out it was so hard! So a rapid new batch was rustled up this time using the tried and tested Ashburton recipe which was much more moist and pliable. Disaster averted, preparations continued and in the end got very little time to actually shower and rest before kick off! All the time waiting for the dreaded call for Hannah to be called in...


So the last few weeks have been a crash course in publicity, advertising and social media promotion. Twitter, Facebook and Blogger have all been ridiculously addictive - seeing how many views we've had, tracking where they're from (Russia, Argentina, USA bizarrely) and seeing the hit count creeping up, particularly in the last week.

Twitter is a bit weird. It seems to be filled with local businesses, enterprises  and personalities all following each other in the hope of them following back to gain credibility and get the 'Follower' count up. At the moment we're up to 52, which is good for 3 weeks work. I think. The people at NowBath have been particularly helpful, re-tweeting and getting the word out to 1500 people at a time.

However, none of this amounted to any bookings, leading us to unofficially cancel the event. That was until we had a booking out of the blue on Tuesday and some more last minute ones on Wednesday and Thursday. All of which led to a table full but some last minute shopping and a day full of prep for the big event! Not helped by the fact that now Hannah had agreed to go on call for Friday night with the expectation of being called in and missing it leaving me 'alllll byyyyy mmyyyyyy seeeeelllfff'.