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Archive for the ‘Diner Reviews’ Category

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.

My second favourite course was next – who can go wrong with a chocolate fondant cake. They were served with jellies that were moulded out of a breast-shape. Where can I get me one of those?

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.

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Blaggers Banquet… the review!! | Wahaca18 Nov 2009 by cecilia

Blaggers Banquet… the review!!

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On Sunday night Mark and I went to the Blaggers’ Banquet event at the Hawksmoor Restaurant  – all to raise money for Action Against Hunger. It was taking the pop up restaurant to a new level with a team having never worked together blagging food from all over the country, creating a menu using these products and then cooking and serving the food to 50 rather fussy and well eaten individuals. An amazing feat for anyone and annoyingly they made it seem far too easy!

I will leave the true art of restaurant blogging to those who, with relative ease, did a pretty good job of running a restaurant on Sunday night but thought I would drop down a few reflections on a delicious meal.

Mathilde from Mathilde’s Cuisine was our waitress for the evening with Denise from The Wine Sleuth serving us some delicious wine – we were met by warm happy smiles all round which gave the evening a great personal and friendly feeling.

Each course was matched with a different wine but I stuck to the delicious Portugese wine from Casa Leal, called Quinta Lagoalva De Cima, for most of the evening which was incredibly enjoyable… mmm yes I was feeling a little weary on Monday morning thanks to the Wine Sleuth’s efficient pouring!

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Ok so i’m not going to go through the whole menu but i took a few photos of my favourite parts.. starting with these canapes made of deep fried crispy chicken skin (or were they roasted)… a similar idea to our pork scratchings (but i think ours may be a lot healthier!) we would really love to put something like this on our menu.. such a treat to have alongside a drink – in fact i would have been satisfied if that was all i was given for the whole evening!

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Lancashire Hot pot is the next thing I want to tell you about as it is such a school dish that gets ruined time and time again but this was so tender and flavoursome that I had seconds and thirds of it  – despite also having a melt in the mouth buffalo steak and a tasty beef stew, which was all soaked up with some good fresh bread blagged from St Johns.

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This was all followed by a gooey chocolate fondant cake and some extraordinary “Titillating jellies” which the man i was sitting next to was finding hard to cut up! Cheese, coffee, wine, more wine and auctions (brilliantly led by Tim Hayward) followed which brought us all back to why we were all still there! We have donated and created for this one off occasion a voucher for a cooking class with Tommi for eight people and no more at one of the Wahaca restaurants. Two tickets were in the raffle, two were auctioned off and 4 more are to go online – click here to check out the auction list and it should be going up over the next week.

This is a great and different christmas present for any friend of relative who is interested in Mexican food or just food in general so make sure you all get bidding.

We are secretly hoping the bloggers set up permanent shop somewhere soon, however from the tired faces showing when we left on Sunday night i think they might revert back to blogging… will have to wait until next year!

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Blaggers Banquet: The Review!17 Nov 2009 by Fundraising Detective

Blaggers Banquet Logo

If you’ve any interest in food in London and are on Twitter or check out any food related blogs then you can’t have failed to hear about this event over the last few weeks.

Conceived (like all the best ideas) after a drunken conversation between Niamh from Eat Like a Girl and Huw from Hawksmoor Restaurant, the Blaggers’ Banquet was held on Sunday evening after an intense few weeks of blagging by the London food blogging community.

You can read more about the background to this fantastic event here and check out the photo album on Flickr as well. There’s a good pic of the back of my head here.

I’m sure lots of people will be writing reviews of the evening, but I thought I’d share some random thoughts and memories of the evening.

The reception:

Smiles and a fabulous warm welcome.  A glass of champagne (well, ok, maybe two or three), canapes (I was loving the goats cheese and pomegranate) and an interesting chat about the work that Action for Hunger does, which was a great reminder about why we were all there.

The Food:

The food was wholesome and plentiful.  The highlights for me were the hearty beef stew and the chocolate fondant dessert.

The beef in the stew just melted in the mouth and had a good kick to it, which was a nice surprise. It was served with fantastic sourdough bread from St John’s, which was perfect for mopping up the juices. I probably overdid it on this, as I had three portions and didn’t realise we were also getting the buffalo steaks and the lamb!

As I proved later on in the auction, I’m a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I also loved the chocolate fondant dessert.  Crusty on top and gooey in the middle – just what I want from a fondant…

The Volunteers & Other Guests:

There was a great atmosphere from the start of the event and huge thanks must go to all the volunteers.  They went about the job with enthusiasm, energy and dedication and nothing was too much trouble.  Our drinks were constantly filled up, any requests promptly dealt with and everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves, which rubbed off on the diners.

I also thought the seating arrangements made for a good atmosphere as well.  People were sat together on large tables and we had to plate the food ourselves and this encouraged conversation.  I got chatting with some great people (hello Caroline from Sugar Grain and @rudduss) and the evening seemed to fly by.

The Auction:

I’ve attended quite a few charity auctions and sometimes they can really drag on, but I thought @Tim Hayward did a fantastic job.  He kept a good pace, made it amusing and most importantly got a good price for all the items.

The auction had some fantastic lots and I purposely didn’t have too much to drink because a: I wasn’t feeling 100% and b: I’ve a habit of bidding for things I don’t really want.

As an aside, I once nearly paid £2000 for a holiday that I couldn’t afford and didn’t really want, after having far too much champagne at an event, because I thought the other person bidding could afford more.  Luckily after 5 minutes goading from the auctioneer the other person put in another bid and I’ve never breathed a bigger sigh of relief!  Anyway, I digress…

In the end I was delighted to win two chocolate related lots. First up, a tour for 5 people with Chocolate Ecstasy Tours round Chelsea.  Grace is going to take four of her friends as a Christmas present, which should be a real treat for them.  I just hope she brings me some chocolates back!

The second one was a private chocolate making lesson for two people with Paul A Young. I absolutely adore his chocolates (especially his white chocolate, sesame seeds and sea salt bar) and so the chance to get a lesson with him is fantastic.

Other items are also being auctioned off over the next month or so at a special eBay site and it sounds like there are some more fantastic things to be won and they could make ideal Christmas presents.

The Goody Bags:

As if the food and drink wasn’t enough, on the way out we were given a packed canvas bag full of goodies.  I can’t list everything that was in there but I particularly enjoyed the following:

Well Done and Thank You!

So in summary, the Blaggers’ Banquet was a great night and hopefully it will raise thousands of pounds for Action Against Hunger.  A final figure will be announced after the online auction has finished.

A massive thank you must go to all the volunteers who worked so hard to make the evening a success and to everyone who donated items (you can find a full list here).  They proved not only that they’ve got the blagging skills, but that they’ve also got the cooking and hospitality ones as well.

Hopefully it was worth all the effort and that people will consider making it an annual event!

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Blaggers Banquet – 15th November 0917 Nov 2009 by Neil

So, I disappear for a month long jaunt round south america and come back to see the foodies in my twitter stream talking about a ‘Blaggers Banquet’.  Much confusion ensues until I find some information from Niamh at eatlikeagirl.com, which explains that the concept is to host a banquet where all the food has been blagged from providers.  Whether it is the salt, gin or meat.

The concept sounded great, but alas it was on a Sunday AND in London.  Nevertheless, I decided that on Sunday morning, whilst sitting in Birmingham having my lunch that I would indeed attend, that evening the Blaggers Banquet, at Hawksmoor.
Nothing like a pop down to Euston, a tube across to Liverpool St, a wander in Spitalfields market before arriving at Hawksmoor (after walking past it twice) just before 6.
There was a good crowd, with what appeared to be an even amount of Bloggers/Blaggers – who had been prepping the veg, venue, and goodie bags all day, to punters – aka me.
There was some amazing attentive service, Martinis and Canapes were had.  Before being seated for some familystyle food service, along with matching wines.  We had some lovely Monkfish to start (which had been driven up from the coast that morning), then moved onto a Beef Stew, Lamb Hotpot and Buffalo Steak with Bernaise sauce.  Yes thats correct, three different meats for mains – I certainly enjoyed the food – but felt a bit full by the end of the course.
The table, by now was full of plates, and glasses – everyone seemed to have a few cocktails, red and white wine, plus some water.  It was amazing to think that everything being consumed had been donated in the name of charity – and just shows what can be done with determination.
Raffle time commenced, where I managed to take home both the Bols Genever and the X chocolates.  2 prizes from 5 tickets is a rather splendid result.  There were some other fabulous prizes including a cookery lesson with Thomasina Miers, no dud prizes here!
Dessert – well Jelly Boobs by Bompas and Parr and Chocolate Fondant Cake.  The jelly was lovely, and half the fun was watching the ’staff’ release the jellies from the mould.  I do like this trend of having two or three things per course!
It was a delightful time, and certainly worth the effort to get there and back ( I ran out into a taxi to the station at 11, got back at 2AM)
As well as the auction on the night, I believe more goodies will be appearing on eBay here: Blaggers Banquet Ebay Horde.
Further pictures on the night from me : Blaggers Banquet (Picasa)

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