With over a week now passed I’ve had time to reflect fully on my début pop up event. Here are my musings…
When I dreamed up the idea way back in January of this year I don’t think I fully considered what I’d be taking on, nor how carried away I’d get with the whole thing! What initially started as a simple idea to both showcase my culinary ambitions and raise some money for charity, ended up in a 7 piece menu for 24 people sold through a respected pop up ticket sales website ‘Edible Experiences’ accompanied by an on-line raffle – attracting local and national sponsorship! Waaaaaah.
So why afternoon tea? Afternoon tea is a ritual I have loved for as long as I can remember. Maybe its the combination of delectable versions of tea-time favourites, enjoyed over a few idle hours with a decent cup of tea and in the company of friends that makes it such an attractive past time? Plus unlike regular meal times or even baking a single cake the it’s not something you would often go to the effort of making yourself. And as for dining out on a paleo version? Not something they serve in the Waldorf of the Ritz last time I checked. I did have a fairly crappy gluten free tea in a hotel once – rock hard overly processed gluten free bread included – other than enjoying the idle hours and tea with friends I left wondering why with a bit of creative imagination why the food bit couldn’t be done better. This was my chance to give it a go!
For my menu I wanted to take all the items you may see at a traditional afternoon tea and put my twist on them. For example instead of a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich I adapted my avocado bread fit for the purpose, plus offered a dairy free version by making some cashew cheese (a technique borrowed from raw foodies which I have been longing to have an excuse to try). For the classic egg mayonnaise and cress sandwich, all I had to do was find a vehicle for holding the eggy mix – Sweet potato to the rescue – and bank on my current prowess at South East London’s best natural mayonnaise maker. A quiche, can thankfully be easily made without the crust without too much fuss.
The savoury was the easy part, but what to do for sweet? I’ve never tried scones made from grain free flours and now wasn’t the time to experiment. I wanted to use recipes I knew tasted good and so settled on mini versions of my blog stalwarts –chocolate cupcakes, chestnut & apple cake, and fig & ginger cacao bites (with some minor adaptations). All items showcased the range of flours and sugar replacements I often use in baking treats such as chestnut flour, coconut flour, ground almonds, flax, xylitol, raw honey, coconut palm sugar and medjool dates. Since CO YO had provided all the necessary yoghurt for my menu for a 4th sweet item I daringly tried out a new raw tart base based on a cheesecake base I had recently tried at my CNM cooking course. First timers luck was definitely on my side!
To round off the tea nicely I provided 2 litres of freshly prepared Almond Milk for the dairy dodgers, since I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t find that at the Ritz. My full menu is here;
With the menu planned and with local to me Cafe Crema all booked (so the car less me could literally carry my creations to the venue) all that was left was to was to get some bums on seats – the part that caused me the most stress and anxiety! I needn’t have stressed so much as amazingly by Friday morning I had a waiting list. When finally Tea-Day came, and after 3 days in the kitchen, waiting in for raffle prizes and darting round London apprentice style to collect the rest, I was ready. A whole 2 hours early. Cup of tea and Sunday brunch on the telly box anyone?
The guests came, they ate, the conversation buzzed, they attentively listened to me chat about my ingredients, they bought more raffle tickets, didn’t complain when the majority of prizes went to those who has bought over the internet and stayed past the end time of 4pm!
A special thank you must go to local sponsors; The Allotment (fab shop next door to the cafe where I buy my veg and eggs, they do weekly veg boxes too!) The New Cross House pub, The ‘Free From’ Bakehouse (a delicious free from bakery operating out of my local Brockley market and Borough Market),Drings Butchers on Royal Hill in Greenwich (where I often buy my meat and bones for stock) plus London based Edible Experiences (ticket sellers), Fitter Food (amazing recipe book), Demora (natural beauty products), Ooosha (raw chocolate expertise) and Perfect Chocolate (ditto!). Plus national sponsors CO YO, Trealy Farm (an amazing charcuterie farm in Wales whom I had the pleasure of visiting this weekend) and Thoosa women’s sports wear. I couldn’t have raised so much money without such attractive raffle prizes thank you.
A final thank you to everyone for coming and for all those who leant a hand on the day – especially Gemma, Hayley and Myra. Special shout out to cake blogger Ellabelles Kitchen for delivering loaning and setting up the cake stands, and Jo Yee aka Candids By Jo for capturing the event with some stunning photographs in the way it deserved. A full selection of pics is here.
With the ticket revenue and raffle donations I made the grand sum of £700 for the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund. All funds have been added to the Jennifer Jones Snowdrop Fund in my late Mother’s memory. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Same time next month?