Sunday, 11 April 2010

Gastronoweek

Food rocks, doesn't it? I love eating and trying new things but, that said, I'd never describe myself as a 'foodie', mainly because I'm not big on cooking. It's not that I can't cook, it's just that there are other things I would rather be doing than spending my time slaving away in the kitchen, especially when you're cooking for one (get the violins out!). Basically, I'm lazy.

However, my attitude towards grub may be about to change after the week I've just had, during which fantastic food was the common thread which tied it all together in one big, tasty, blogworthy package.

First up on Tuesday night was one of the best events I've ever been to. The wonderful people over at Qype* organised a secret supper club, where a bunch of forty or so lucky Qypers got to meet the legendary Jim Haynes from that After Eight advert (yes, he's real, and every word he says is true!). 


Jim has been hosting epic dinner parties at his Paris apartment for decades and reckons that, all in all, he's had around 130,000 round to his place for dinner. Now that's a lot of washing up! Meeting Jim was brilliant; he was a total charmer and he kissed my hand like a proper gent, but what was possibly even more special about the evening was the stuff we got to put in our bellies. 

You see, this was no ordinary evening. To celebrate the presence of the undisputed King of supper clubs, it appropriately took place at the wonderful underground restaurant Fernandez & Leluu. And when I say restaurant, what I actually mean is this lovely couple's living room! Unlike Jim's decades of experience, Simon (Fernandez) and Uyen (Leluu) have only been hosting their supper club in their Hackney abode since last autumn, yet their culinary skills and hospitality has so far generated high praise indeed and now I can't wait to go along to one of their regular sit-down dinners.

I won't even try and describe the brilliance of the food because I'm not a food blogger and I could never do it justice. But I will say that it was all exquisite, including a platter of starters (with the yummiest prawn cocktail dip I've ever tasted), the most tender slices of beef carpaccio, and a sinful pot of posh bread and butter pudding made with criossants. The food is described in delicious detail at Feast on Scraps with some wonderful images on the LondonEater blog. The cocktails were shaken and stirred to boozy perfection, and are summarised with applaudable precision over at Billy's Booze Blog. There are some more great write-ups at One Million Gold Stars, Domestic Sluttery and, of-course, Qype. Yes the bloggers really were out in force at this one! High praise indeed must be given to the clever After Eight PR people, Sian and all the others at Qype, Simon and Uyen and, of-course, Sir Jim, for putting on such a wonderful evening of food, hospitality and good company. And, to top off my Qype love, they even made me Qyper of the Week - chuffed!

My week of gastrono-joy was completed yesterday, when I slipped into a summery dress and headed to the swanky Sanderson hotel for a girly afternoon with a crazy twist; a Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea! Although the hotel resembles a concrete lump from the outside, inside it's sleek and stylish and we were seated in the hotel's pretty courtyard garden. I'd never 'done' afternoon tea in my life, so had no idea what to expect, but when the waiter brought out our individual vintage cake stands stacked with multicoloured sandwiches, scones, cakes and lollipops, I couldn't help but squeal with childish joy.


There was no requirement for an 'eat me' label, as I tucked in straight away. The sandwiches were delicate, yet packed with flavour. The scones were light and seductively crumbly (although sadly we missed out on the clotted cream as they'd temporarily run out, and the butter substitute was too firm for the delicate scones). The cakes were really exciting to eat, with pink foam oozing from the 'Queen of Hearts' teacake, and crackle crystals making us giggle on the chocolate and raspberry cupcake. We finished our sugar fest with, errr, more sugar, this time in the form of a pineapple candy (it claimed to turn your mouth from hot to cold but I didn't experience this) and, finally, a chocolate a peppermint lolly which burst in your mouth (some great photos here). All this, with an unlimited supply of tea, for twenty quid! 

The hotel had only intended to run the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea for a month or so to capitalise on the hype surrounding Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland film, but the popularity of it (it was full when we left) means that it is remaining a permanent fixture at the Sanderson. In which case, I can definitely see myself going back.

*If you've never heard of Qype I'd urge you to check it out. Not only does the site give you access to squillions of user-generated (and very well written) reviews so you can see what other people think of local restaurants, bars and shops, but they also organise loads of cool events for regular reviewers to go along to. So it's like a review website and a social network all rolled into one.

7 comments:

Gail said...

Crackle crystals?? Lemme at 'em! Sounds like great fun and great value, I love afternoon tea too so will add this to the list of places I'd like to try.

Siany said...

Thanks for the Qypey shout out! So pleased you got to come and play with us :-)

I read the write up about the afternoon tea on Su-lin's blog too. It looks great, but I'm very much a savoury girl when it comes to tea - the mini little sandwiches are my favourite bit. And three just ain't gonna cut it for me. I reckon something like tea needs a balance and shouldn't be all very sweet. Shame, because it looks pretty cool.

hayjane said...

Yes, a sweet tooth was definitely required for this afternoon tea. The sandwiches were yummy (four of them), but it was really all about the quirky cakes

Alexandra Sheppard said...

Only £20? Wow! And I've heard lovely things about the Sanderson.

hayjane said...

I know! I'm not too well-versed in afternoon teas and their costs, but to me this seemed like really good value for money x

The London Foodie said...

Hi Hayley, it was lovely to meet you, even though we only chatted briefly, what a fantastic evening. I love your blog, and I love puns! Don't be a stranger, say hello sometime!

Ian said...

Great night wasn't it? Nice to meet you and share the bus to London Bridge. It's fair to say a supper night was had by all...