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The BlaggersBanquet: the event22 Nov 2009 by Ailbhe


Well, we did it! The combined efforts of London Food and Drinks Bloggers produced one of the liveliest events in the London food scene. With the generous support of many food and drink producers and retailers, various luxury and consumer brands, not to mention the wonderful people at Hawsmoor Steakhouse, who loaned their lovely restaurant, the first Blaggers’ Banquet has been deemed a success.
Hawksmoor
The idea of the LFDB hosting a charity event was the brainchild of Niamh Shields of eatlikeagirl. Niamh is the creator of the LFDB, a social forum for food and drink bloggers in London. Fresh to the world of blogging I joined the forum in August and this was my first opportunity to meet any of the bloggers. And what a great event to start with.
Niamh suggested to LFDB members her idea of raising funds for Action Against Hunger by creating a pop-up restaurant at an existing restaurant location where the cooks, bar staff and front of house would all be LFDB members. Where all the drink and menu ingredients would be donated. Not only that, she wanted an auction to start on evening and continue for the following few weeks. Simple. We all met at the Draft House in Clapham (while still under refurbishment) where Niamh proceeded to whip everyone into action. Hawksmoor had already offered their restaurant (which showed amazing trust and confidence) and within a very short time frame bloggers were busy blagging. The response was simply fantastic. Donation offers came flooding in and suddenly we knew that this was going to be an incredible experience for all involved.

D-Day, Sunday 15th November, arrived and Hawksmoor was full of bloggers, prepping, cooking, unpacking, stocking, tweeting, polishing and rearranging tables. Goody bags began to stretch at the seams as they were stuffed full of tasty produce, goodies, vouchers, discounts, drinks and information. Produce was delivered (a special thanks for the wonderful Fish for Thought who drove up from Cornwall to deliver the fabulously fresh monkfish then turned around to drive home!!). Raffle and and auction items were identified and stacked. Wines were matched by Denise to compliment the menu devised by the cool kitchen goddess Sig. Sig and the kitchen team of Neil, Charlie and Danny worked tirelessly in the compact kitchen and delicious aromas started to waft out.

Suddenly 5.30pm struck, the first diners arrived and the evening kicked off. Canapés, accompanied by Chapel Down sparkling wine, cocktails and ales appeared and disappeared in a flash. Diners took their seats and the feast began. I won’t go through the menu (others have done so more eloquently here on the Blaggers’ Banquet blog) but you can view the lovely menu above. I will say that the mozzarella from Laverstoke Park, lamb from Donald Russell and the chocolate fondant cake made with chocolate from Trish Deseine were de-lic-ious (I was working so no time for eating, just tastes here and there). Oh, and the cheeses courtesy of Pong’s, Trehowan’s Dairy, Brockhall Farm and the Barbers 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar were lovely too.

Blaggers Banquet Event 1.109
Towards the end of the sumptuous meal, with equally sumptuous wines, the raffle took place and the diners had the joy of even more goodies! Then the auction began and fuelled by the air of generousity which seems to blow through this whole event we had some great items reaching some fantastic prices. All in all the evening raised over £6000 for Action Against Hunger.
Blaggers Banquet Event 1.123
But the really GREAT news is the the Auction is still ongoing.
YES, FOLKS YOU TOO CAN BAG A BARGAIN!
Click through to the Blaggers’ Banquet ebay Auction and start bidding. Each day a new item will be added so you need to keep checking back. Some of the events, courses and items being offered are unique so it’ll be well worth the effort. Plus every day new donations are coming in.
Being foodie bloggers we’re greedy for more success, definitely a case where ‘Greed is Good’. So start being greedy : )
Blaggers Banquet Event 1.81
And finally, I have to say that I had a great time. I worked with Susie and Linda on goodie bags gatherings making sure every guest left with a bursting bag and had an opportunity to meet some of the lovely food bloggers out there. Alexis, Abi, Kavey, Mathilde of the pointy shoes and Billy to mention but a few. And would I do it again next year?
Absolutely yes!
Blaggers Banquet Preparation81

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I had a dream « Mathilde’s Cuisine22 Nov 2009 by mathildescuisine

Giving without expecting anything in return, working numerous hours without counting – nor billing, being involved in a team project without competing against each other, switching off your computer with the satisfaction of having achieved something good.

Should the definition of a perfect world be where all you get for your hard work is a rewarding big smile on people’s faces?

Imagine a world where you don’t go to work just for the sake of work, where your main objective isn’t keeping your boss or client happy and where productivity and stress are pleasant notions.

A utopia, you would think. Let’s call it a dream. A dream that you can make come true. And we did.

On November 15th, based on an idea and the perseverance of Eatlikeagirl, food bloggers organised a Blagger’s Banquet at Hawksmoor to raise funds for Action Against Hunger. During two weeks, bloggers blagged in their spare time and over nights to collect ingredients for the menu and prizes for the auction. On the day itself, the persevering bloggers dedicated their Sunday to cook, serve and entertain the 50 guests who attended this first-of-kind event.

The result? More than £3,000 collected for charity on the night, happy and thankful guests, and a bunch of bloggers tired but proud of their achievement.

So, yes, we can.
Life is not just about money and making our big productive machine of world go round. Life is also about dedicating time to others and lending a hand to deserving causes. We can make this dream come true and we did.

But the dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of food and wine suppliers, restaurants, PR companies and all the people that provided prizes for the auction.

The dinner wouldn’t have happened without wonderful cooks, terrific barmen and sommeliers, an efficient front-of-house team, queens of goodie-bags, motivated blaggers and generous donators.

But, before all, the event wouldn’t have seen the light without the strength and will of Eatlikeagirl

Bravo, Niamh, du fond du cœur.

I remember that movie about a boy wishing for a better world, where he dreamt of people holding a candle and passing it on.

That night, brands, restaurants, musicians and bloggers combined all their forces for Action Against Hunger.

That night, I got involved in my first ever charity action.

That night, I was proud of the world.

Thank you everybody. You made a dream come true.

It is now your turn to pass it on. Go to auction.

—————

Blaggers Banquet Menu
15 November 2009

Menu conceived by Signe Skaimsgard Johansen with Danny Kingston, Charlie Nelson, Neil Rankin

š Canapés and table nibbles š

Fresh goats’ cheese and pomegranate crispbreads with a salty vanilla twist and fresh chives
(Brockhall Farm, Abel & Cole, Peter’s Yard and Halon Mon)
Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil brochettes with a pesto dip
(Laverstoke Park, Abel &Cole and Purely Pesto)
Crispy chicken skin bites (Silfield Farm)
Cheddar Gougeres with thyme (Barbers 1833, Abel & Cole)
Spicy Bar Mix (Munchy Seeds)

The canapés were offered with a choice of the following
(also available throughout the evening from the bar):

Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2004
Albarino Laga de Bouza 2007 (The Wineaux)
Sipsmith
’s Gin martini
Sipsmith’s Vodka Martini
Sipsmith’s Gin or Vodka and Fevertree tonic
The Blaggertini
(Sipsmith’s vodka, Chegworth Valley Apple and Raspberry juice, Galliano Balsamico)
Cornish Cocktail (Bramley & Gage Quince Liqueur, Chapel Down Sparkling Wine)
Black Velvet (Chapel Down Sparkling Wine and Porter)
Marston’s Pedigree
Innis & Gunn
Fullers London Pride
Daas White

Chapel Down Brut
Chapel Down Porter
Firefly Tonics

Chegworth Valley Apple Juice
Chegworth Valley Apple and Blackberry Juice

š Starter š

Monkfish and beetroot tartare with tomato salsa
(Fish for Thought, Abel & Cole)

Brewery Hill Chardonnay/Viognier 2008 (Naked Wines)

š Main Course š

Grilled buffalo steaks with bearnaise sauce (Laverstoke Park)
Winter Beef Stew (Donald Russell)
Lamb hotpot (Donald Russell)

served with a selection of seasonal vegetables from Riverford organic
and handmade sourdough bread from St John Restaurant

Quinta do Lagoalva 2004 (Casa Leal and Viniportugal)
The Pastor’s Blend Journey’s End 2007

š Dessert š

Golden Chocolate Fondant served with Crème Fraiche
(Trish Deseine, Easy Tasty Magic and Sainsbury’s So Organic)
Titillating Jellies from Bompas & Parr

Lorca Fantasia Malbec 2008 (Naked Wines)
Castello Romitorio Morellino di Scansano 2007 (The Wineaux)

š Cheese š

Barbers 1833 Vintage Cheddar
Brockhall Farm Chive Goats Cheese
Trethowans Dairy
Gorwydd Caerphilly
A selection of deliciously fragrant cheese from Pong’s

Served with Peter’s Yard crispbread and a selection of seasonal fruit from Abel & Cole

Albarino Laga de Bouza 2007 (The Wineaux)

š And…

Coffee from Square Mile with milks from Sainsburysn,
Brockhall Farm and Lahloo Tea
Chocolate truffle by Lahloo tea and Damian Allsop

We also used ingredients throughout the menu donated by the following:
Abel & Cole – herbs
Billingtons
– sugar
Halen Mon – flavoured salts
Hill Farm
– extra virgin rapeseed oil
Maldon Salt – salt and pepper
Riverford Organic – assorted vegetables
Sainsbury’s – all dairy produce except cheeses and goats milk
Silfield Farm – chicken used for stock

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Kavey Eats: Blaggers Banquet: The Big Night21 Nov 2009 by Kavey

The big night came and went, and it was marvellous! Bloggers pulled together to create a truly unique and fantastic event for which tickets were purchased by generous supporters, all of whom seemed to have a great time!

We raised just over £3,000 in ticket sales for the Blaggers Banquet, held on the 15th November, in London’s Hawksmoor restaurant (thank you, Hawksmoor!).

So what did our customers get for their money? A range of fantastic drinks (which kept flowing all evening), beautiful canapés, a truly delicious multi-course meal and raffle tickets to win a towering pile of fantastic prizes. All this got them in the mood to put their hands up again and again, allowing us to raise over £3,300 in the auction on the night. Oh, and they each left with a bursting full goodie bag too!

That’s well over £6,000 and we’re not finished yet! (See below).

Some bloggers excelled in blagging food and drink provisions for the night as well as raffle and auction prizes. Some worked out menus and invented cocktails. Some took on kitchen-prep and cooking duties and others put together goodie bags. And of course, the front of house team served the punters with all that food and drink. And there were a myriad other tasks from creating menus and name stickers to arranging deliveries and taking on pick ups to tidying up afterwards! The entire team was pulled together by Niamh, whose brainchild this event has been.

What was I doing? On the night, I attended as a diner but my main job has been the IT side. I set up the Ebay and Paypal accounts and got the tickets on sale, and dealt with any payment enquiries. And created a door list for the night. (Don’t even get me started on what a nightmare Paypal has been to deal with – I understand that they need to be watchful against money laundering activities but those of us who are legitimate have to jump through so many damn hoops; they make it so damned difficult that I’m surprised the only people with the patience to persevere aren’t the criminals they’re trying to thwart!)

I have also had the pleasure of dealing with a number of lovely suppliers who’ve responded generously to my blagging requests for food, drink and prizes! (Thank you, again!)

My biggest job started only after the banquet evening was over – we blagged so many fantastic prizes that we’re now running an online auction which we expect to last for at least a month! Every day I’ll be listing another great item that you can bid on, all donated by our kind and generous suppliers. I’m also still following up payments for tickets and on-the-night auction wins.

If you couldn’t attend, you can still participate by visiting our auction page regularly and bidding generously on the wonderful items on offer.

Here are a few of my pictures of the night. You can also see a much larger set, including all the preparation, cooking etc., taken by Foodbymark, here.

Kavey’s Pics








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Blaggers Banquet, been and gone…19 Nov 2009 by tehbus

Blaggers Banquet 2009

So, Sunday came and went.

After weeks of organising and planning, food and wine bloggers converged on the Hawksmoor to help put on the Blaggers Banquet. As a member of the advance party, we arrived to find the restaurant packed to the brim with produce and prizes, the fruits of labour after weeks of blagging by many of the blogging community. We were soon organised, assigned roles and the work could begin in earnest. Once the goodie bags had been stuffed and put to one side, the real focus of the day could begin, the food.

Blaggers Banquet 2009

As part of the canape crew, we stared at the fruit and veg from Riverford Organic, a beautiful soft goats cheese from Brockhall farm and a variety of salts from Halen Mon, wondering what the the best course of action was. After a few tastings and matchings, @ginandcrumpets and I decided on our offering, a canape of soft Brockhall Farm goats cheese on Peter’s Yard crispbreads, studded with pomegranate and sprinkled with vanilla salt and chives. A combination of sweet and salty with contrasting textures, I really thought this worked well and sat well alongside the gougeres and mozzarella & tomato skewers that were served alongside the rest of the banquet.

Blaggers Banquet 2009

Whilst we were crafting the little buggers, the small kitchen was a hive of activity. Even with a few supplier hiccups, the kitchen continued forward in the prep for dinner. The bar staff diligently learned how to knock up a cracking martini as the sommeliers tasted the wines and matched them to each of the individual courses of the banquet. It was all slowly piecing itself together.

Blaggers Banquet 2009

As the guests arrived, sparkling wine was distributed and the front of house went into overdrive. The front of house were decked in black and worked their proverbial socks off, weaving in and out of the tables carrying tray after tray of carefully prepared comestibles. Such was the passion and efficiency, I doubt you would find better service in many of the more well versed restaurants in London. Starters of monkfish ceviche came and returned empty, as did the plates of lamb hot pot, Winter stew and buffalo steaks (yes, three mains. You really got your moneys worth!).

Blaggers Banquet 2009

The meal was punctuated with a raffle of blagged prizes and was rounded off with a stunning chocolate fondant cake and some jelly boobs from Bompas and Parr. And as the guests sat there full and hopefully happy, we moved onto the final section of the evening, the auction of the rest of the blagged items.

It had been a triumphant evening. We had raised a shedload of cash for Action against Hunger with more to come with the daily auctions. Keep an eye on this page for some great items and bid liberally!

So that was my truncated view of the day. There are so many people to praise and thank. The blaggers, the organisers, the suppliers, the Hawksmoor, the list really is endless but without you all, we really could not have achieved this. Special thanks go to @eatlikeagirl who crafted the day, with weeks of planning and all under very difficult circumstances, and @scandilicious who worked so hard to get the food prepped, planned and cooked with constant curveballs being thrown from every angle.

I for one was very proud to be part of this and even though I was dead on my feet by the end of it, would be happy to do it all over again.

Please keep and eye on the the Blaggers banquet twitter feed. There you will find all the latest items for auction and all the write ups from guests and bloggers.

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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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eat mynels: Monkfish and Beet Tartare at the BlaggersBanquet 19 Nov 2009 by eatmynels

I clambered into the whites rolled out the knifes and pushed on to get the starter done. In collaboration with the Scandelicious Signe we decided that I would make monkfish and beet tartare and for this we managed to scoop the best monk tails available on this island.

Paul Trudgeon from Fish for Thought, based in Cornwall, heroically drove all the way London on a Sunday to make sure we had the freshest possible produce to give the banquet diners. He arrived at 2 pm with more than 4 kilos of gleaming fish. The recipe I was using (based heavily on this one) recommended that the fish marinades for 8 hours before the fish is sliced and diced; time I didn’t have. Having prepped the tomato, walnut oil and, sherry vinegar marinade in the morning I had no choice but to dice the fish and combine the two and leave it for as long a possible before plating.

I decided to ‘autumn-up’ the dish with the addition of a beetroot disk under the tartare stack and dress the plate with a zingier concasse than the recipe suggests, capers lemon juice helped here. This dish isn’t a molecular masterpice but the flavours are quite subtle and can’t be messed with too much, the freshest of fish is essential. It would have been improved had the fish been marinated whole overnight as the tails would have taken on more flavour and a drier mix would have produced a dish slicker in appearance.

A massive thank you to Fish for Thought who not only made the ten hour round trip to deliver the star ingredient for my starter but they also donated a £50 voucher for the auction. The night was a great success, lots of money was made for Action Against Aunger and it was a huge honour to be able to cook for fifty discerning paying guests. Hats of to everyone who helped out front and in the kitchen, but especially Signe and Niamh!

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Quinta Lagoalva and the Blaggers Banquet 19 Nov 2009 by winesleuth

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Portugal for the EWBC and visited the Quinta Lagoalva as part of the conference. Little did I know that upon my return to London I would be running into Quinta Lagoalva quite unexpectedly at the Blaggers Banquet. The Blagger’s Banquet was a charity event organized by London food and wine bloggers for the organization Action against Hunger.

Miguel from Casa Leal and Viniportugal, a government organization dedicated to promoting Portuguese wine, got wind of the event and kindly donated 18 bottles of Quinta Lagoalva de Cima 2004, a blend of tinta roriz and touriga nacional. It was my task at the event to match up the donated wine with the food.

One of the main courses was Buffalo steak with a bearnaise sauce. The Quinta Lagoalva went quite well with the steaks. A spicy, fruity nose, full of ripe black plums and ripe black berries, the palate followed through with a smooth and mellow black cherry character, round tannins that complemented the steak, nothing terribly complex but a very good match for the buffalo which was not near as gamey as I though it would be. Quite a tasty piece of meat and smooth operator of a wine to go with it. The wine is available from Casa Leal.

portuguese red

Thanks to Viniportugal and Casa Leal for donating to a very worthy cause. Looking forward to next  year’s Blagger’s Banquet.

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