So, we’ve successfully held our first Wivenhoe Pop Up Restaurant in the front room of our little cottage, where my wife and I live (with our equally eccentric housemate, Croppity, who reminds us so much of Manny from Black Books…).
The recipes I write on this blog are honest and work for 1, 2 or even 20 people. I’m not going to lie and say it went totally smoothly: despite my staggered start times, everyone turned up at once (probably due to my chaotic time management); and my scallops shrank when I pan-fried them, rather more than I predicted they would ( I’ll be changing suppliers). But the atmosphere and response to the food was fantastic – as the wine flowed, some of the diners even belted out Irish folk songs!
You will probably recognise a few dishes – the rest will appear soon on the blog.
Salad of tea-smoked wild duck breast with a honey & apple balsamic dressing
Seared scallops with brandy cream sauce
Home-grown tomato & basil soup served with home-baked bread
Honey, lime & ginger roasted pheasant, served with steamed vegetables
Venison casserole served with rich buttery mashed potato & home-baked bread
Apple & wild blackberry crumble, served with clotted cream
A selection of British cheeses, home-grown grapes, & biscuits
The day before was spent cleaning the house (you would not believe the amount of dust that you can find in a 16th-century timber-framed cottage), and rearranging the furniture so we could fit all our guests in. I then drove back to the farm in Epping for a photoshoot for a friend and then back to the “mouse house” (as Abby calls the cottage), and flopped into bed at 1am.
On the actual day we sat down 13 guests (‘unlucky’ I hear you all, say, but on All Hallows Eve I think you can get away with that.) I was bloody worried that they would not appreciate my food, but our customers showed a true sense of adventure. The first course went out and thankfully there were no walkouts. When the empty plates came back into the kitchen, practically licked clean, I knew it was going to be ok.
So at the end of the night, Abby and I sat back, a glass of wine in each hand, and Abby says to me: “We should do this every day – that was great”. I told her that the novelty does wear off, but I had a great time and so we will continue on our madcap culinary pop up adventures. Next stop: potted partridge.
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