Wot larks! Much fun was had and there was a lot of cooking. We got started at 8am. The pork had, of course, gone in the night before and was cooking away gently on an overnight roast – the smell was luscious when we arrived. Fuelled by a strong black coffee, I got cracking on the chocolate mousse and honeycomb, regretting quickly the decision to plate up 40 individual chocolate mousses. A messy laborious business, I even got some in my eyebrows.
The day chugged along, the pork finished and we crisped up the glorious crackling. Time to make the spiced pumpkin soup, a big vat of it. We made a robust root veg mash, some cavolo nero with bacon and chestnuts to serve with the pork. Some spiced apple relish too, a big bowlful for each table.
The pescetarians had a lovely crab bisque with crayfish and red mullet, and the vegetarian (there was only one) a jerusalem artichoke, pear and gorgonzola risotto.
Time then to make the bacon jam, it was just an hour to arrival. And to bring the brie from Neals Yard Cheeses to room temperature. Toast the bread, spice and heat the cider and get ready to serve in gorgeous silver teapots, and we were almost good to go.
We lit the fire and guests arrived and Blacks started to bubble. It was fun! Not awful. I secretly worried it might be really stressful, having never catered for such numbers by myself at a sit down lunch before. (I had, of course, catered for large numbers with a team of others many times before).
I loved it. I really did. Being in a proper kitchen was great, and tough, but I liked the pressure and I liked getting things done, ticking things off the checklist. Robin, head chef at Blacks, was terrific and calm and a brilliant support. He guided me gently through a mornings work in his kitchen.
So that was that. And it’s Christmas now, almost. Another tick for a lovely year. I will definitely be going back to Blacks. And hopefully to their kitchen.