Friday, 23 May 2014

A Belated Thanksgiving Post

Before I begin, an apology for the 6-month delay on this and any other posts. As it tends to do, life has simply got the way a tad. December was the usual whirlwind of parties and then in January I found out I was expecting and my life just seemed to get even crazier hectic than usual. I've tried to fit in a little writing this week and as I'll be finishing working duties in a matter of a month or so, I'm hoping not to be so slack.

I was invited by the lovely Food Urchin, way back in November to a Thanksgiving soiree at his home, close to where I live in Essex. This was part of a project he was taking part in with Great British Chefs. On the evening in question I arrived to be greeted by a glass of fizz, Danny (Mr Food Urchin) Gary of Big Spud, Danny's lovely wife and a couple of his friends - a nice start to the festivities.

We sat down to our first course - a tagliatelle with chestnuts, bacon, a sage black butter and a pumpkin velouté. Poor Danny had had a slight nightmare - this was supposed to be tortellini - however as with many wonderful things, the result of this 'mistake' was very pleasing indeed. A light and flavourful sweet note from the pumpkin was set off beautifully by the delicate crunch of the chestnuts and as Danny pointed out, almost everything is improved by bacon. I might add that as well as being an enjoyable dish it was also a rather attractive plate of food too. Bonus. 

By the main event the wine was flowing nicely and conversation was lively - we were ready for the star of the show, the turkey. Happily Danny had used Great British Chef's bank of recipes and came up with an inventive ballotine of soft, moist, melt in the mouth turkey wrapped in Parma ham and with soft, buttery spinach running through it. Wonderful, and a refreshing change from roasted bird. The accompaniments too were fantastic - baby carrots and braised baby gems (a dish I'd never tried but have since recreated at home) and an utterly gorgeous potato rosti. Being the slave to carbs that I am I do love potatoes in all their glorious formats but there is something special and slightly naughty about a rosti and Danny pulled it off perfectly. Soft, well-seasoned potato was encased in a crispy exterior for that all important crunch-factor. The whole dish was prettily dressed with a red wine and thyme jus that tasted as good as it looked. Hat's off to the chef for this as it was a truly gorgeous plate of food prepared in front of us with the minimum of fuss. 

Our final course was an unusual treat - a spiced apple crumble slice, or a hybrid of crumble and pie - for me the perfect pudding. With an old-school hearty stodginess about it (as all crumbles and pies should), it still managed to appear refined. Expertly spiced with soft, juicy cooked apples, the delicious crunch of the crumble and a little vanilla ice cream made for a marvellous mouthful.

I must mention this evening was put on in association with one of Great British Chef's wine partners' - Corney & Barrow and each course was well matched with a different plonk. The dessert wine was my favourite, not least for its comedic name - Sticky Micky Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. It was absolutely delicious, sweet but with an acidic tang that worked well the apple crumble pie. 

I had a wonderful evening with great company and even better food. Thanks again to Food Urchin and apologies for the incredibly tardy post! 

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