Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Underground University: Food Bloggers Conference

Delegate's badges!

The night before: the phone rings: "Hello I'm calling on behalf of Daniel Young"
Me: (interior groan, big sigh, this can only be bad news): "So ...is he cancelling?"
Lady: "No, but Daniel has lost his voice and I'm..." big noise in background from Kitchen Aid mixer beating croissant dough " and I will come with Daniel to ...interpret....what he wants to say"
Me: "a kind of telepathic...um...talk?"
Lady: "Well I sort of know what he wants to say, and, I have a print out".
Me: (interior: hesitating) "okaaay"
Lady: "I don't know anything about food blogging."
Me: finally, "Okaaay." Deep breath. "And you are?...."
Lady: "Oh I'm his wife, didn't I mention that? I'm Mrs Young and Foodish. I'm in publishing though"
Me: (interior...oh they are married. Should be ok then. She must know his every thought.) "Fine, no problem, see you tomorrow"
Daniel Young's talk was channelled through his wife Vivian, Editorial Director of Reaktion Books. Sometimes, Daniel would whisper further points, which had the effect of making everybody lean in and listen hard. 

We had a 'business breakfast' of home made croissants, plain and almond, pains chocolat (with dark and white chocolate), pains au raisins and coffee. The delegates wore name badges with their blog or Twitter name on them. Food bloggers, suppliers, Tweeters swam in, through rainy February skies, from all over the country, armed with laptops and cameras.
 For these almond croissants, I made them fresh from Michel Roux's Pastry book, but added an almond paste inside and on the top. 
Fresh croissant dough
100g of ground almonds
100g of unsalted butter, diced
100g of caster sugar
A few drops of orange blossom water
A few sliced blanched almonds to add on top.
 Michel Roux's book suggests a triangle template of 9cm's by 18. This produced mini croissants.

 I made the pains chocolat with two types of chocolate that I found in my cupboard: a really serious dark chocolate Original Beans Piura that stood out as an ingredient even after being baked: and also Green and Black's white chocolate. I've never had a white pain chocolat before, they seemed to go down well.
Laura James talked about how to write a recipe, giving a list of jumbled up ingredients and asking people to write out the recipe in an understandable form.
Then lunch: a great opportunity to network and meet the other delegates.
Pictured: Spaghetti Vongole in a bag. Lakeland are now doing this combination parchment/foil which is perfect for cooking things in a bag.
 Rhubarb and custard clafoutis in individual enamel dishes
 Photographic hottie Paul Winch Furness talking about the technicals.
 Fire and Knives editor/broadcaster Tim Hayward in characteristic expansive humour, explaining how he got into writing, his background, his advice on writing. In fact I learnt more about him in an hour than I have in the last two years. 
People went home with their heads buzzing and their hands full with a goodie bag. 
Rachel's Organics showcased their new yoghurts, among them coconut, honey, and passionfruit.
Douwe Egberts gave vintage blend coffee.
A copy of Fire and Knives magazine, the food quarterly. 
Small jars of Marmite!

Next conference May 21st: How to start and run a supper club. 
Book here.
Confirmed speakers: MsMarmitelover
James Ramsden of The Secret Larder
Lynn Hill of My Secret Tearoom
and more conferences to come...


  1. It was so much fun! Thank you for letting us in on such a fun and encouraging event! I shall return!
    Miss Sue Flay xxx

  2. My daughter came to the conference and loved it. I can just see her in one of the pics....she has the amelies house blog. painting on cakes. I love the english can cook site. Great!

  3. Wow it sounded like a really wonderful event!

  4. Sounds great, shame I missed it :/. I am really going to try and make it to the next Underground University Event however, sounds very interesting x x

  5. Ah sounds wicked - Tim Hayward sounds interesting...I would have loved to have picked his brain! xxx

  6. I'm loving your blog, I'm following!

    Would love you to enter my amazing GIVEAWAY- to win a pasta making course and meal with wine for two:



  7. I loved the rhubarb and custard clafoutis - it was delicious. Have just been given enormous bundle of Yorkshire rhubard and would like to cook clafoutis. Can you point me in the direction of a recipe please. Thanks.


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