If you've any interest in food in London and are on Twitter or check out any food related blogs then you can't have failed to hear about this event over the last few weeks.
Conceived (like all the best ideas) after a drunken conversation between Niamh from Eat Like a Girl and Huw from Hawksmoor Restaurant, the Blaggers' Banquet was held on Sunday evening after an intense few weeks of blagging by the London food blogging community.
I'm sure lots of people will be writing reviews of the evening, but I thought I'd share some random thoughts and memories of the evening.
Smiles and a fabulous warm welcome. A glass of champagne (well, ok, maybe two or three), canapes (I was loving the goats cheese and pomegranate) and an interesting chat about the work that Action for Hunger does, which was a great reminder about why we were all there.
The food was wholesome and plentiful. The highlights for me were the hearty beef stew and the chocolate fondant dessert.
The beef in the stew just melted in the mouth and had a good kick to it, which was a nice surprise. It was served with fantastic sourdough bread from St John's, which was perfect for mopping up the juices. I probably overdid it on this, as I had three portions and didn't realise we were also getting the buffalo steaks and the lamb!
As I proved later on in the auction, I'm a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I also loved the chocolate fondant dessert. Crusty on top and gooey in the middle - just what I want from a fondant...
The Volunteers & Other Guests:
There was a great atmosphere from the start of the event and huge thanks must go to all the volunteers. They went about the job with enthusiasm, energy and dedication and nothing was too much trouble. Our drinks were constantly filled up, any requests promptly dealt with and everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves, which rubbed off on the diners.
I also thought the seating arrangements made for a good atmosphere as well. People were sat together on large tables and we had to plate the food ourselves and this encouraged conversation. I got chatting with some great people (hello Caroline from Sugar Grain and @rudduss) and the evening seemed to fly by.
I've attended quite a few charity auctions and sometimes they can really drag on, but I thought @Tim Hayward did a fantastic job. He kept a good pace, made it amusing and most importantly got a good price for all the items.
The auction had some fantastic lots and I purposely didn't have too much to drink because a: I wasn't feeling 100% and b: I've a habit of bidding for things I don't really want.
As an aside, I once nearly paid £2000 for a holiday that I couldn't afford and didn't really want, after having far too much champagne at an event, because I thought the other person bidding could afford more. Luckily after 5 minutes goading from the auctioneer the other person put in another bid and I've never breathed a bigger sigh of relief! Anyway, I digress...
In the end I was delighted to win two chocolate related lots. First up, a tour for 5 people with Chocolate Ecstasy Tours round Chelsea. Grace is going to take four of her friends as a Christmas present, which should be a real treat for them. I just hope she brings me some chocolates back!
The second one was a private chocolate making lesson for two people with Paul A Young. I absolutely adore his chocolates (especially his white chocolate, sesame seeds and sea salt bar) and so the chance to get a lesson with him is fantastic.
Other items are also being auctioned off over the next month or so at a special eBay site and it sounds like there are some more fantastic things to be won and they could make ideal Christmas presents.
The Goody Bags:
As if the food and drink wasn't enough, on the way out we were given a packed canvas bag full of goodies. I can't list everything that was in there but I particularly enjoyed the following:
- The Firefly Grapefruit & Passion fruit drink.
- Caroline's (from above) fantastic Elderflower marshmallows. We'll definitely be popping down to Covent Garden to get some more!
- The Sheen Suppers chocolates.
- The Bar King Chihuahua Chilli Nuts.
Well Done and Thank You!
So in summary, the Blaggers' Banquet was a great night and hopefully it will raise thousands of pounds for Action Against Hunger. A final figure will be announced after the online auction has finished.
A massive thank you must go to all the volunteers who worked so hard to make the evening a success and to everyone who donated items (you can find a full list here). They proved not only that they've got the blagging skills, but that they've also got the cooking and hospitality ones as well.
Hopefully it was worth all the effort and that people will consider making it an annual event!