Sunday, 1 November 2009

In The 'Trick or Treat' Of It

Friday was a fun day in the office. I had loads of things to do as it was my final day at work before a week off, but in between all of that it was the inaugural Halloween Bake-Off contest and a preview screening of 'The Thick Of It', which had been filmed in the Guardian building a few months previously.

The premise of the Halloween Bake-Off, which had been conceived by one of my colleagues in the press office, was simple: bake a Halloween-themed cake, get a judge to choose the best cake based solely on looks, then sell the cakes for charity. I love cakes, but baking is definitely not one of my personal strengths. However, making Oreo balls certainly is a forte. So I decided that it would be much easier if I made some of my yummy Oreo truffles and decorated them to make them look spooky.


What I failed to foresee was that, although making standard Oreo balls is indeed quite simple and speedy, making fiddly ones which are meant to actually resemble something is not, especially if you've got plans for the two nights before which the truffles have to be ready. So I concocted a plan. Three nights before Bake-Off Day: crush the four packets of Oreo biscuits into a fine powder (took an hour using a tin of chopped tomatoes as a crusher and a sieve to ensure the powder was fine enough). Two nights before: mix crushed biscuits with cream cheese, mould into spooky shapes (pumpkins and skulls) and coat in appropriately-coloured melted chocolate (two hours). Night before: add the finishing touches with coloured piped icing sugar (one hour).  They turned out pretty well, but I didn't win. However, we did raise lots of cash. Photos of all of the entries are here.

A couple of hours later and it was time for The Thick Of It screening. Back in the summer the cast and crew spent the day at Kings Place filming. I spent a couple of hours during that day supervising the crew as part of my job, which was incredibly interesting. The director of the series, Armando Iannucci, is an absolute genius. I also learned that the guy who plays Elvis the driver is - in real life - the production office's accountant, and he was given the part solely because of his long and mouldable hair. He was very nice. The Guardian episode was aired last night, but as a thank you for allowing them to film in our building, they agreed to the preview screening, followed by an off-the-record Q&A with lots of the cast, along with the producer and the scriptwriter. Fascinating stuff. Here's a screenshot from the episode, walking down the stairs from the floor where I work:

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