Blaggers Banquet – the review19 Nov 2009 by ruduss
I arrived at the Hawksmoor restaurant with trepidation and nervousness as I was on my own and had no idea what exactly was going to happen at this Blaggers Banquet. I knew the basics – that it was for charity (Action Against Hunger), and that everything such as the food, wine and venue had been blagged all for this great cause.
Walking through the door I immediately felt welcomed by one of the hosts and recommeded to go straight to the bar (which is exactly what you would like to hear). There were people mingling talking amongst themselves, and I soon got chatting to many people about mine and their favourite subject – food. Yes, I was amongst fellow foodies. It was so nice to be dining and sharing this experience with others who would appreciate like me the effort involved in getting such a thing organised.
All sorts of canapés and drinks were being served before sitting down. I was drinking the Blaggers cocktail – a sugar lump with champagne and quince liqueur. The canapés I’m sure I tried them all, and had seconds and thirds. The cheese herb puff was great, I’m stealing the recipe of the fresh goats cheese with pomegranates on crisp bread, and the cocktail-sized tomatoes on sticks with mozzarella exploded in your mouth (so you had to be careful). Please excuse me if I missed out on a canapé – it may not have passed where I was standing.
My seating arrangement was near the middle of the biggest table, so there were plenty of people to talk to. I had to ask if I was in a ‘twitter friendly environment’. Thankfully all said yes – they were more curious and quite entertained at how I was twittering all through the courses (@ruduss if you want to look them up). All the volunteers I had noticed were all twittering when they could as well. I saw a group of 4 standing around the bar with their phones tweeting like mad as they needed to catch up on their tweet count for the night.
Food was served on large plates and bowls where everybody just grabbed what they wanted. This added to the great atmosphere and comradeship and made for the extra sociability of the occasion.
The first course was a monkfish and beetroot tartare. I would have to say it is the freshest and best tasting monkfish I had ever tasted. There were whispers by fellow diners saying ‘I hear they just caught it this morning’. This fact was backed up later – driven 5 hours from Devon (I think). The only problem was there wasn’t enough of it – I wanted more it was so good!
Winter lamb and beef stews came out next in huge bowls. Once again – complements to the chef, etc. The meat was so tender and lovely. It was also great dipping the sourdough bread into the last bit of the juices.
And then my favourite course came out – the cheese. You know that the night is being run by foodies when there is a cheese course. There’s nothing worse than having a menu that has a choice between the cheese or the dessert. The main cheeses were represented here – goats, cheddar, Caerphilly. The only thing missing was a juicy munster or epoisse. Although that is not for the faint-hearted. It could have ruined the atmosphere…maybe…..
The wines I was drinking all through the courses were perfectly matched, which I was surprised about. I was expecting a really oaky generic Australian chardonnay, and a really alcoholic red from Spain to be my choices. Thankfully the white and the red I picked were perfect.
So will I be the first in line to go next year? Definitely. I’ll certainly bring friends, although if they decide not to come then I will just go myself again. And next year I’m taking the next day off. I can’t work while still trying to digest such a great meal. Congrats to all who organised it and volunteered – Eat Like a Girl who helped organise it has a better blog post here.