Mission: Covert operation to infiltrate a hipster hotspot, then sample delicious Rosé.
Brief: Travel across London in rush hour, navigate
the Bermuda Triangle Old Street Roundabout, infiltrate a popular Shoreditch hipster hangout, try a variety of delicate d’Anjou Rosé flavours with a knowledgeable air and create a designer kebab that didn’t poison anyone. Including ourselves.
Team: Major Mandy (codename Emm in London), Canadian Mountie Melissa (codename Wanderlust) and I comprised the self titled ‘Majestics’. Our backup wingman was the lovely Rosie of A Little Lusciousness who seconded to another battalion for the evening.
Urban Battlefield: The Queen of Hoxton, nestled in the bohemian hub of Shoreditch. Based on our recon of the perimeter, the ground floor is a funky drinking establishment full of beautifully dressed party people, beards, skinny jeans and pinball machines, The internal staircase is bedecked in very cool
urban artwork graffiti designer iconography by Jamie Burbidge and Animaux Circus. The rooftop, our venue, is normally home in the evening to cinema goers wrapped in blankets and sheathed in headphones to protect the neighbours from noise.
Supplies Team: Loire Valley Wines and the Queen of Hoxton’s catering team (led by head chef Daniel Ashley), with proceedings hosted suavely and hilariously by sommelier extraordinaire Douglas of Intoxicating Prose.
Action Synopsis: As soon as the assignment hit my inbox I knew – as a former publican, blog addict and attempted-foodie – that the evening would be fraught with scenarios to test any ninja skills learnt through the last few years. We began by testing their canapés (aka an amused waiter presenting us with trays of delicious hors d’oeuvres to photo first, then eat; we are bloggers after all) piping fresh from their roof top barbeque. All delicious, damn them. They weren’t going to make imitating the hipster vibe easy.
Douglas guided us through a ‘how to’ taste testing of 5 beautiful Rosé wines featuring flavours as varying as watermelon, blackberry, watermelon and a hint of mushroom (as nominated scribe aka the rest of us were too busy sipping), Mandy took fantastic tasting notes). My favourite was the all-rounder British classic 2013 La Grille Rosé d’Anjou. Fresh, soft and featuring berry notes it would be a perfect summer evening wine.
We were subsequently initiated into the path of camouflaging ordinary food as beautifully crafted dishes by Paul Winch-Furness (aka a Foodie photography masterclass) who discussed current trends, techniques that he prefers and answering a multitude of questions about light.
Then, to the penultimate task of the evening – designer kebab creation. Presented with a table full of delicious ingredients, this wasn’t to be a normal ‘rustle-through-the-fridge’ kebab, but a construction of flavour, texture and blogger competitiveness.
Our kebab was delicious if we do say ourselves. Alternating layers of juicy scallops, tuna, mango and courgette, flash marinated in fresh ginger, coriander, lime, mango chutney and a touch of chilli.
While they sizzled on the rooftop BBQ along with the other kebab constructions, we sat down to a sharing platter fit for kings. And ninjas. Our kebabs were presented sizzling hot, then we tucked into a collection of delicious desserts, nervously awaiting the judging results.
Drumroll please…. we came a surprising second. A shocked cheer, and ignoring the temptation of a teary Gwennie speech thanking Daniel for his help (we could have won if we were braver with the ginger) we made our way home with a hamper containing two bottles of delectable Rosé for further recipe development.
Personally, with such lovely delicate flavours, I don’t think the wines need anything fancy, just a sunny afternoon, well stocked hamper and beautiful botanical gardens in which to enjoy them. That’s my recipe. Sun + hamper + garden
Debrief: Mission considered a success; Hoxton successfully conquered without any undue notice from the natives.