Numbering 4 nationalities (5 if you count yearning) amongst 6 diners, we gathered on a snowy evening gathering from all corners of London to make merry in a pre-Christmas celebration. We covered the globe ranging from Antipodeans (New Zealand and Australian) to Americans with a token English Rose, we knew by the tone of the late excuses from “sorry I’m going to be 5 minutes late” all the way through to “I got held up at carrot point by snowmen – they wanted to know where I was hiding the penguins but I refused to tell them. Trying to uber a reindeer now…” it was going to be fun night.
Disclaimer: Our meal was provided courtesy of La Belle Assiette, but I would absolutely use them again – and with the 3-course meals averaging out from a pub dinner to a luxury restaurant pricing, without having to put up with other noisy diners, I will definitely be using them again.
Sorry for the long disclaimer. Which I’ve just made longer.
On the table we spread out Eucalyptus fronds in a beautifully haphazard array, crowned with a bronze ornament placed just so and star tea-lights sprinkled amidst the table centre, twinkling merrily away. Gathering in our good friend’s lounge, we hugged and told tales of our recent adventures.
Our chef for the evening, Sujin, arrived with only a crate of ingredients and a saucepan tucked into her bag, unpacking our feast for the evening like an antipodean Mary Poppins (Sydney represent!) along with a photographer by the name of Anthony who didn’t quite know what he was getting himself in for…
This is how organised Sujin is – she packed the entire feast for 6 people in a small crate and a bag. This pic is after we feasted…
As Sujin familiarised herself with the London kitchen in front of her, we popped open the bubbly and sparkling apple juice to toast the festive season and the possibilities of 2018 ahead of us. Having selected our evening menu a few weeks earlier from options that played to seasonally available ingredients, we couldn’t wait to feast.
Unfortunately, I volunteered to be in charge of the canapes *cough* bought last minute from the supermarket *cough* and although I managed to successfully heat them up and serve them without incident, I completely forgot to accommodate all of the dinner guests’ dietary needs – though luckily it was something Sujin was masterful at. Thank goodness.
We began with a creamy, creamy burrata matched with mascerated cherry tomatoes (does anyone else always write ‘cheery tomatoes’? No? Just me?), pickled grelot onions for textural counterpoint, drizzled with basil oil and freshly roasting pine nuts, plus a slice of rocket with fig tart.
Our mains were even tastier; beautifully cooked sirloin steak (it was originally meant to be Bavette but Sujin wasn’t happy with the quality when she went to buy it, which made my foodie loving heart so glad) it was served on a rich bed of pureed parsnip, potato fondants, mushrooms, pickled radish for piquancy, a rich gravy and tender stems of broccoli – because healthy.
We absolutely emptied our plates which is a better indication than any words I could attempt to wrestle together. No-one licked their plates because we were pretending to be adulting, but I’m fairly sure it was a consideration…
Dessert was a pear Tarte Tatin slathered with caramel and served with a delicious vanilla ice cream and sesame crumble that made me threaten to kidnap Sujin. Only mostly jokingly.
Our gluten intolerant friend was treated to her own scrumptious dessert of spiced pear with meringue shards and a sticky caramel that had me side-eying her plate with envy – something that usually happens the other way around…
And, to top it all off, Sujin (and all of the nearly 200 chefs, many of whom have graduated from top culinary schools in the UK and around Europe) quietly did all of the dishes as we got more raucous, and left the kitchen sparkling clean.
Would I recommend this as an alternative to the stress of cooking your own dinner party? I absolutely 100% would. You can simply concentrate on hanging out with your guests, and still have an impeccably cooked meal. Drinks and decorations are B.Y.O., but as a really sweet touch (literally) Sujin brought us a little gift of Christmas crackers and chocolates for the table.
I just want to do it all again this coming weekend. Every weekend. Thank you La Belle Assiette – I can’t wait to have another look through the cuisines that are available for our future dinner parties…
Have you ever hosted a dinner party?