Tom Baker the accordeon player
Home made baguettes, pain d'epi, walnut bread rising
I bought red and white check tablecloths for the occasion
Fleur de lys perfumed the air, radishes served with Maldon salt and Normandy salted butter
Alissia with a basket of home-made bread.
I was helped by Hattie Mauleverer from Top Hat Catering. She's cooked for all kinds of people including David Cameron. On the left is Ali who used to work for Hattie, she's soon going off to Uganda for a month.
So proud I'm putting tons of pictures of my bread. I was amazed that some of it wasn't eaten, until I realised some of the front of house were going out, saying 'Anybody want some more?' then bringing it back in the kitchen before anybody could say yes!
I always cook in pearls don't you know?
The table outside on the balcony.
Suzanne from Mons delivered an amazing selection of French cheeses:
Langres; Cosme goat (made in the shape of the farmer's wife's breast, apparently he was going through a mid-life crisis at the time); Beaufort; an ash covered goat's cheese, bicaillloux from Limousin (made by two transplanted Parigos); Camembert, made with raw milk, 'moulé à la louche' (ladled by hand which does make a difference); a goat's cheese 'mistralou', with a hint of herbes de provence, wrapped in sweet chestnut leaves (originally chosen because cheaper to transport to market than cheese cloth/paper); a breakaway Roquefort, just outside the AOC, but just as good.
These were accompanied by St.Johns sourdough, oat cakes and my home made fig compote (3 days in red wine in the Aga).
Affinage, Kilburn stylee!
Making 120 choux buns (ignore the slightly burnt ones at the back)
Constructing that mother...
Filled with creme patissiere with orange blossom flower essence and almond essence.
A simple clear bouillon. The original word 'restaurant' means a restorative soup. Restaurants as we know them today started after the French revolution. This meal was a mix of ancien regime (the piece montée, the croquembouche) and working class French menu fixe.
I also served crudités: carrottes rapées, celeriac remoulade with a home made mustard mayonnaise, radishes with butter, salt and home made baguettes.
Main course: roasted trout with almonds with a generous amount of butter sauce; a gratin dauphinois with lots of double cream
Alissia, Ali and Hattie in their vintage French aprons.
Ooh la la! Lenny from Coney & Barrow...
The cheese was matched with superb French wines from Ten Green Bottles, a small wine importers in Brighton. Simon went around the tables pouring wine, giving tastings, to an appreciative audience.
Here it is, covered in caramel and crystallised rose petals and glitter.
The leaning tower of Kilburn: the back started to collapse!
Alissia starts on the absinthe after vintage coffee
Middle class crack: burning a sugar cube over the absinthe, la fée verte. One guest said to me "Be careful, the guests might smash up your furniture!"
Things I learnt on Bastille Day:
1. Don't attempt to make a croquembouche when it's raining. It will collapse.
2. Wear protective gloves when dipping profiteroles in liquid caramel. I'm sure there were some fingertips glued to the construction.
3. A mix of Pastis and red wine and absinthe renders you inactive for at least 24 hours.
4. Never do front of house. I don't have the temperament, especially towards the end of the evening.
"Would you like some coffee?"
"What sort of coffee?"
"Coffee coffee" (barked with impatience)
"Can I have an espresso?"
"It's a home restaurant. I don't have a 20 grand espresso machine."
"Can you make one on the stove top?"
"I can't be arsed. Especially after making you gluten-free bread."
I must say, I do feel sorry for coeliacs. I had to pipe the bread onto the tray as you can't knead it. It 's more like cake than bread.
Here is my recipe:
500g Dove's gluten free flour
tspn of sugar
15g Xanthan gum
Some corn meal.
Mix all the ingredients together. Make foil moulds for the baguettes, dull side out. Spray it with oil and dust with cornmeal. Place the 'dough' in a mixing bag and pipe onto oiled foil. Leave to rise for 45 minutes, then 'slash' some cuts into the baguettes. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes approximately. Spray the oven with water to make steam which will give the bread a crust.