It's Thurday morning and I've been up since 5.30am, good girlfriend duties meaning that I had to escort Simon (my fella) to the airport. Usually it's a struggle to construct an understandable sentence at this ungodly hour, but this morning Si and I managed to not only talk, but to enthuse. That's what a night of great food can do for you.
Last night we attended an event put on by TK MAXX featuring a unique dining experience curated by the fabulous chef Gizzi Erskine. I didn't get the opportunity to thank her last night but actually Gizzi was very kind to me a few years back. We have a mutual friend in a fabulous woman called Gemma Peppe, who we both met through working with the Hep C Trust. A few years ago I was struggling horrendously with IBS and food allergies, and I was being put on very limited and unpleasant diets by numerous doctors playina a guessing game. I messaged Gizzi on Facebook to ask for any tips on things I could eat that would be more paletable. She sent a lovely and helpful reply. She didn't have to reply so kindly to a stranger messaging her with a problem, so I've always been thoroughly pleased to see how her career has grown over the years. It's always nice to see good eggs do well!
The event was held in The Loft on Kingsland road, and every part of the space had been decked out to enhance to relaxing mood of the night. As we lugged our weary bodies upstairs we were could see that our stress would be soon be turned into serenity, passing oodles of glowing candles, and with a tray of drinks on the horizon.
As soon as we stepped into the main space we were offered non alcholic or alcoholic cocktails served in oh so trendy Mason Jars. I opted for the non alcaholic one which tasted like a Mojito, but one with no dodgy side effects. Instantly revived.
TK Maxx’ Ridiculous Possibilities campaign celebrates the unique shopping experience found every time you step in-store, so every detail of tonight would nod geelfully to this ethos. No sense was left ignored. After our taste-buds were tickled by the cocktails, we were soothed by calming lighting, and then felt childlike excitement when peeking into the tent made from TK MAXX sheets.
That love for creating, or nestling within dens, doesn't disapate just because your an adult and concerning yourself with paying the rent or obtaining a mortgage. When I saw the canopy they'd created I thought that I may have been feeling a nostalgic sort of joy. Recalling all those makeshift homes I'd hash together from towels, bedding, clothes, in bedrooms or from from branches, foliage and plastic sheeting in the garden. But no, even though I'm firmly inside a very depressing age bracket I still have that desire for adventure, and enjoy being able to crawl into a space and imagine that the outside is far more exotic or far flung. I also love how cosey and safe you feel inside the draped fabric house. The flatterring warm/low lighting also benefited our lived-in, city weary faces too, and helped to make us feel in the mood for lounging.
Under the print draped fabric were two very low table for the guests to sit round, our shoes removed so we could nestle down on the pillows and duvets that covered the floor. There was a definite Alice in Wonderland vibe with quirky additions to the tables like the Ralph Lauren welly's containing bottles of Prosecco. There was a lovely crowd of people including stylist Alexis Knox, and Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl, who brought her adorable family member Lettice. What a thoroughly refreshing and real person to have a natter with.
The Breakfast Club was projected on the wall of the tent
(Unfortunately somewhere on my travels during the day my spare battery and camera charger decided to make a run for it and camera ran out of steam before the food was served. So I'm afraid you'll have to put up with my rather lackluster phone pictures. They do not do justice to this incredible feast!)
Clear tomato Consommé 'tea' with tiny vegetable stars and baby Thai basil.
Firstly, the presentation of this was adorable, poured out of a floral teapot into cup and saucer. Of course most of us are used to a quick lunch of piping hot opaque tomato soup, so this cold and clear liquid immediately played with our heads. It looked beautiful with the diminutive and bright coloured shaped vegetables dancing in the liquid, but it was the strength of the tomato flavour which was the most noteable feature. A delicious intro into our evening of yummy-ness.
There's not much that Si won't eat, but goats cheese is an ingredient that will deter him from ordering a dish. I feel the same, it's just too strong a flavour for me. I get the feeling it's one of those polarising foods, because some people react quite strongly when I confess my dislike. I was actually extremely pleasantly surprised when I tried the mousse. I think there was some honey on top which really counteracted the flavour I usually find offensive. The tiny carrots and radishes added a bite and sweetness too. Proves you really should try everything!
I have to be honest I paniced a little bit when I saw this on the menu, and even when it came to the table. You are probably getting the impession that I'm a tad fussy when it comes to food, but I do have to confess that I'm not a fan of Pâté....and that's me being very polite and restrained. However, even though I'm an old fart now, I can still hear my mums voice saying 'you must eat what's given to you'. Once again I ate my words, as well as what lay on the plate. We'd already had the wow factor from the appearance (the pate beneath the skin of a large constructed cherry) but the taste was a revelation too. Had I been wrong all the years? Or was it Gizzi's take on Pate that had be converted. Either way....YUM! Simon had expected he'd be eating my portion of this course, so was a little disappointed to discover my new found love.
This was our star of the evening....if not our year. We love our comfort food and this made Si and me feel like we were getting the biggest internal hug of all time. I'm not sure everyone would call it comfort food considering many were sweating and streaming from the eyes due to the spice level, but we were still all united in acknowledging that this was the best Chicken we'd ever had. Si and I love spicy foods so we couldn't get enough, I think Si ended up demolishing five of them....and that was him being restrained! It has a sweet but spicy coating that crunched as you bit into it, with succulent chicken moist underneath. With all the drooling recalling this course is creating I am risk at causing a Mac Book Pro water based malfunction!
With a Japanese mother Simon has had more than his fair share of sushi during his life - and it's been the real deal. So I was going to be looking to him for an accurate appraisal of this course. It would almost be unfair for me to comment considering I don't really like fish and avoid sushi at most costs. Si didn't even have to utter a word of review. I could see from his widened eyes and the arm stretching out to pick up his second one while still munching on the first, that it had passed his strict test. I know something's particularly yummy when Si gets a bit bolshy when encouraging me to try it. I was always going to try it, but it's always amusing to see how empassioned Si gets about everyone around him experiencing good food.
It was the crunch that I particulrly liked about it, as well as the fact that the fish taste was fairly mild. Gizzi may well be responsible for converting me to the ways of the sushi, something which I have been resisting for years.
I've always been partial to this much loved dessert. I think the combination of creamy and crunchy, and bitter and sweet, makes it such a balanced way to end a dinner. Although I love an over the top mound of chocolate paraphernalia, I do like that you never feel grossly stuffed after a dessert like this. Gizzi really wanted the consitency of her example to be soft and custard like, which made it incredibly comforting to eat. It also had the desired crunchy bitter top which was ever so satisfying to shatter with a spoon. It was presented in an egg shell which had been sliced open perfectly by one of those natty machines you get in Lakeland. Yummy and just the right amount to leave you wanting more.
Gizzi accidently ruined the trickery of this one when she intoduced the climax to the evening's eating extravaganza. But if you've seen Heston's feasts on the telly, you will know how he likes to confuse the mind and taste-buds via the visuals. So in tonight's case the orange coloured jelly was actually beetroot flavoured, and the red one flavoured with orange. That last chew was tinged with sadness because we knew that it was our last mouthful of Gizzi greatness.
As I hinted before, Si and I had been having a fairly stressful day, but we felt a lovely combination of being on a high - having enjoyed such amazing food and company - and relaxation, after lounging on a cushioned floor drinking cocktails for the last few hours. It was a bit of a shock to the system having to get on starkly lit underground. Our journey was made more enjoyable recalling the recent memory of devouring that Korean Fried Chicken.
P.S Thank you to all involved in the evening. It really was an asbolute treat to enjoy some delicious food in the company of nice people/dog. On a side note, this was an exemplery way to celebrate a brand and it's latest products. It was really relaxed and natural, something you'd genuinely want to be present for just for pleasures sake. It didn't feel like you were there for work, but because you were having such a nice time you were naturally inclined to want to tell people about it. So well done!