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Movember: Getting my Mo On with a Cook Off [Video]

Remember , remember the Mo of November. Moustaches aren’t just for hipsters, you know.

Movember has swung round again, and while I can’t grow a moustache to support them – quiet down the back! – I did get involved in the #mofoodfight, a fun video cook off to generate interest in and awareness of Movember, and their new book Cook Like a Man: The Ultimate Cookbook for the Modern Gentleman (priced at a ridiculous £5.98 on Amazon right now, and a very reasonable £9.99 in the shops).

I dragged my carcass to a studio at way too early o’clock of a morning (hey! I am self employed, I don’t get up before 7am, you know), and it wasn’t long before I was cooking on camera with Pete Brown, maestro of beer and cider and all things in between.[Read more]

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Action Against Hunger: Emergency Campaign in Haiti


Action Against Hunger got in touch today about their emergency campaign Haiti, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you. These poor people had nothing to begin with and now with the earthgquake the country is devestated. They need all of our help. Whatever you can donate will be very well received.

HAITI EARTHQUAKE:

ACTION AGAINST HUNGER MOUNTS EMERGENCY RESPONSE

International humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger | ACF International is putting in motion an emergency response to help the survivors of the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti yesterday. An emergency response team is on its way to reinforce the 100 ACF field workers already on the ground, and additional emergency supplies, including water, sanitation relief equipment and food supplies will be flown in later today.

ACF’s immediate priority is to ensure its entire staff is safe. The organisation’s offices have been severely damaged, many of its supplies have been destroyed and communication channels are down. ACF teams on the ground are preparing to assess the damage and evaluate the needs of the survivors. ACF is also preparing to transport relief supplies, such as water treatment stations and cars from Gonaives to Port au Prince.

“The extent of the devastation is still unclear in the country’s capital, Port au Prince,” said Action Against Hunger’s Executive Director, Jean Michel Grand. But for a country already contending with endemic poverty and an insufficient water and sanitation infrastructure, the effects of this earthquake are catastrophic. “Our teams are extremely concerned for the survivors’ welfare, particularly, access to safe drinking water and food supplies. Chronic malnutrition rates in the country are already high, and it is likely that food supplies have been destroyed.”

Action Against Hunger has implemented programmes in Haiti since 1985, carrying out emergency measures in the areas of health and nutrition, areas of health and nutrition. Since 2001, we have focused primarily on food security and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in both emergency and development contexts in Port de Paix, Gonaives, Anse Rouge and Jeremiah.

Action Against Hunger has launched a public emergency appeal. Call 08456 003618 or visit www.actionagainsthunger.org.uk.

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Auction Against Hunger

What are you doing here reading this?!  Shouldn’t you be over on ebay salivating over the fabulous goodies up for auction as part of the Blaggers’ Banquet Auction Against Hunger for Action Acgainst Hunger? Shouldn’t you be planning many culinary operations and adventures with the prizes that you succeed in winning?

There’s still lots of fabulous prizes we’ve yet to auction. The generosity of the donations has been astounding, and they’re still coming in. They’re not normal prizes either, lots of them are unique experiences, that money can’t buy (except for now in our auction).

Still here? How can I entice you…?

Dinner for 4 in Bob Bob Ricard’s Owners’ Salon
15 hours left to bid – bid here

Dinner for four in the Owners’ Salon at Bob Bob Ricard with Beef Wellington and a bottle on 1983 Chateau Palmer. Includes any 4 starters, 4 sides, 4 deserts and all soft drinks.

The 3lb-plus Beef Wellington is made with 28-day aged fillet of Aberdeenshire Scotch Beef. It is perfectly matched by the 1983 Chateau Palmer, “wine of the vintage” and the best Palmer since the legendary1961. Guests will be free to order any four starters, sides and deserts to accompany their meal from the entire Bob Bob Ricard menu without restrictions; all soft drinks are also included. Before dinner Bob or Ricard will join the guests to introduce them to vintage Russian vodka. 1963 Croft will be added at £500 & 1985 Krug at £700.

Thomasina Miers Wahaca Cookery Class for 2
6 days left to bid – bid here

Wahaca created this fabulous one off cookery class especially for the Blaggers Banquet Action Against Hunger auction. The cookery class will be run by Thomasina Miers, Master Chef winner and co founder of Wahaca.

Attendees will get to spend the afternoon with Thomasina Miers at one of the Wahaca restaurants and learn and cook some of her favourite Mexican recipes.

The class is for 8 people. This auction is for 2 places in that class. The date will be confirmed through emailing cecilia@wahaca.co.uk who will coordinate a date that all voucher winners can attend.

Tasting Menu for 2 at Tom Aikens Restaurant
4 days left to bid – bid here

Tom Aikens has donated a meal for two at his restaurant – his special Tasting Menu no less. Incliudes a bottle of wine.

And there’s more. Over the coming days/weeks we will be adding a dinner at Galvin at Windows; a Belted Galloway Malhamdale Grass Fed Beef Box from Paganum, my meat supplier; a Champagne & Sunday Brunch for two at Vinoteca (frequently voted best wine bar in London and a personal favourite) and lots more surprises.

STILL HERE?! What’s wrong with you?!*

*only kidding, we really appreciate everyones support, as does Action Against Hunger. Thanks!

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Auction fever

Will she every shut up about the blaggers’ banquet? Will she?! Afraid not folks, at least not for the short term, until we’ve finished our online auction in a couple of weeks and raised lots of money for that fantastic charity Action Against Hunger, I guess we could call this Auction Against Hunger (boom boom!).

But seriously, even if this were not for charity, and you’re of a scrooge like disposition, which I am positively certain you’re not, we’ve had some fantastic donations, and lots more to come. Make your xmas shopping fun and eclectic!

Instead of buying your sister that goat again, what about a Sashimi Masterclass with 7 course tasting menu at Feng Sushi and it’s ALL for charity. It’s a gift for your conscience as well as them. A little too much? Well, I’m serious.

A kitchenaid for your other half? Did I mention it’s pear green. Afternoon tea at the Ritz for your Mum? A Selfridge’s Gordons Choice Hamper, or the delectable White Christmas Tea Collection from our favourite tea lady at the Rare Tea Company.  Did you miss the amazing Chocstar prize of a visit to your home with lots of gorgeous chocolate desserts? Well, keep an eye out, we have many more wonderful tricks up our many sleeves.

Have something you’d like to donate?? We’re still blagging, I mean accepting donations. Please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

Want to donate some cash? We’ve had some requests so you can do that too. We’ve setup a page on Just Giving.

Ebay Blaggers’ Banquet Auction (bling, bling!)

Just Giving page – please donate anything, small or big, for this worthy cause. It’s just been setup so is at zero, but we have raised over £6K already. A *huge* thanks and big smile for all who’ve supported us and everyone who donated.

We’ll be blogging about everything in detail here: http://blaggersbanquet.wordpress.com/

Diner reviews, blagger reviews, donor interviews. Every little thing! Keep watching.

http://shop.ebay.co.uk/blaggersbanquet/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25
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Postcard from the edge

Blaggers' Banquet

And, so we did it. We cooked for people, we fed them, we got a lot of them drunk, and we gave them lots of stuff. Goodie bags, auction prizes, raffle prizes were all distributed. There was laughter in the air, and lots of alcohol. We remembered the loo roll and the napkins. We didn’t burn Hawksmoor down.

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Of course, I always knew we could do it. Even on Tuesday night when I woke in the middle of the night in the middle of an intense anxiety dream about buffaloes. Yes, buffaloes. When in Ireland, my mother asked, what could you possibly be texting about? I told her buffaloes.

Oh, yes, they were a feature, those Laverstoke Park Farm buffaloes ever present in my brain, jostling for room with Sipsmith Gin & Vodka, Donald Russell Meat, and lots of veg from Abel & Cole and Riverford. Wrestling with the goodie bags, Chapel Down Pinot Reserve, Curious Brew Beers and fighting with the Lahloo Tea, the Maldon Salt and the Halen Mon. All characters in the nightly soap opera playing out in my tired brain. All in the name of the blaggers’ banquet and that wonderful charity Action Against Hunger.

Rolling up with my wheels that Sunday morning, I unloaded my cargo at Hawksmoor: Maldon Sea Salt Season Boxes, a slab of Guinness and two bottles of Smirnoff Vodka. Where to park? Nothing to fear, my wheels are more compact than a smart car, and I parked them out the back in the private room. Wrists sore from all of the steering on that manic journey down. What kind of car is this? No car, my friends, I have a wheelie suitcase.

I surveyed the scene. Carnage. Organised carnage though. Lots of fruit and veg, lots of beer and cider, wine a go-go. MEAT, lots of that, some stock on the hob, some meat stewing, some lovely smells creeping out of the kitchen. Prep were frantically peeling and slicing, goodie bags were being stuffed maniacally. Everyone was busy, most were smiling and things were getting done.

Our first visitor was a wonderful man from Cornwall (Fish for Thought), delivering his precious and supremely fresh monkfish. He had travelled 5 hours and had 5 hours to go to get home. He didn’t even stop for tea.

Fish Man

Next to unravel the deliveries, or the absent ones at least. Where was the Laverstoke Park Farm buffalo mozarella? In Green & Red you say? Where’s the bread? In St Johns? Scurry, collect, dispatch and prepare.

Our next visitor was Sam Bompass of Bompass & Parr, jelly architect extraordinaire, delivering his boob jellies. Made of plum and rose, with 24 carat gold nipples, we were very excited about these. Unleash the boobs we roared. And so we did. We had a brief lesson in in freeing without destroying, and went on our merry way.

Blaggers Banquet Preparation74

Half an hour left! Time to gather front of house, organise the tables and split the room into sections. Time to set up the band. The Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2004, nicely chilled, was ready to be poured. The canapes ready and waiting. The kitchen were busy, organised and focussed. Everything was in hand.

Blaggers' Banquet

5 minutes left! Are we ready? A few bits left to do. The band have started playing, Denise and Douglas are ready to pour. Name tags have been distributed by Krista, although mine soon after abandoned, as it had an affinity for my hair and the floor.

Blaggers' Banquet

The guests are here! We’re giddy. What to do? Music is playing, they’re drinking and eating. The bar staff are shaking and making.

6.20pm. Time to seat the guests. Dinner will be served at 6.30pm. So far, so smooth. We seem to be pulling it off.

Blaggers' Banquet

The food starts to come out. The monkfish tartare is one of the prettiest starters I’ve ever seen, and it gets to the tables so quickly. We’re monitoring two missing guests and looking for the pescetarian. Everyone else is happy.

BlaggersBanquetKavey-0012

The pescetarian arrives. Oh! There’s two. Off I scuttle to the kitchen with my news and back on the floor. The band finish and indulge in some blaggertinis, they’ve deserved them.

Time for the main course, nay three main courses for hungry hedonists we are and we love our food. Grilled buffalo steaks with bearnaise sauce (Laverstoke Park), Winter Beef Stew and Lamb hotpot (Donald Russell).

Blaggers' Banquet

While the eat, we start to organise the raffle and the auction. Auctioneer extraordinaire, Tim Hayward, blogger at the Guardian and mastermind behind much lauded new food magazine, Fire & Knives, steps forward and we start. Prizes a go go, almost something for everyone. We’re having fun. Time for a break and dessert, and the auction.

Blaggers Banquet Event 1.91

The auction is so much fun, but I can no longer manage the floor. Lesson learned for next year, but everyone does so well. A couple of blips, we’ve only 20 jellies and two tables miss out. Troubleshoot! Let’s make them a new cocktail, a boobtini, and exclusive just for them with gold leaf at the top. They’re happy and so am I.

Blaggers' Banquet

Time for the cheese, and the fruit, the tea and the coffee. Time for the clean up, the trips home and for everyone to wind down. A sneaky martini for some, I am one of that number. I am very hungry, I have hardly eaten all day!

BlaggersBanquetKavey-0040

The guests are happy and we’ve raised a lot of money for Action Against Hunger. We couldn’t have asked for more. Our first time would never be perfect, but the kitchen blaggers, magnificently led by Sig,  really pulled the rabbit out of the hat. The bar staff were superb, the front of house elegant, the behind the scenes the best, dutifully doing all of the unglamorous work that noone else wanted to do. Everyone did a wonderful job.

Particular and very big thanks to everyone who donated and everyone at Hawksmoor. We did a good thing, I think! The auction continues online, a new item (or two!) every day for a month, and it’s all great stuff. Get bidding. Make your xmas shopping fun.

BlaggersBanquetKavey-0046

The photos, like all things at the banquet, were truly collabarative. Particular thanks to non-blagger, photographer Carmen Valino for the first 6 photographs (excluding the fish man from Billy) and to Kavey, Ailbhe and Mark for the others and, finally, to Mathilde, Linda and Denise for putting together the menu below.

Blaggers Banquet Menu
15 November 2009

Menu conceived by Signe Skaimsgard Johansen with Danny Kingston, Charlie Nelson, Neil Rankin

š Canapés and table nibbles š

Fresh goats’ cheese and pomegranate crispbreads with a salty vanilla twist and fresh chives
(Brockhall Farm, Abel & Cole, Peter’s Yard and Halon Mon)
Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil brochettes with a pesto dip
(Laverstoke Park, Abel &Cole and Purely Pesto)
Crispy chicken skin bites (Silfield Farm)
Cheddar Gougeres with thyme (Barbers 1833, Abel & Cole)
Spicy Bar Mix (Munchy Seeds)

The canapés were offered with a choice of the following
(also available throughout the evening from the bar):

Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2004
Albarino Laga de Bouza 2007 (The Wineaux)
Sipsmith
’s Gin martini
Sipsmith’s Vodka Martini
Sipsmith’s Gin or Vodka and Fevertree tonic
The Blaggertini
(Sipsmith’s vodka, Chegworth Valley Apple and Raspberry juice, Galliano Balsamico)
Cornish Cocktail (Bramley & Gage Quince Liqueur, Chapel Down Sparkling Wine)
Black Velvet (Chapel Down Sparkling Wine and Porter)
Marston’s Pedigree
Innis & Gunn
Fullers London Pride
Daas White

Chapel Down Brut
Chapel Down Porter
Firefly Tonics

Chegworth Valley Apple Juice
Chegworth Valley Apple and Blackberry Juice

š Starter š

Monkfish and beetroot tartare with tomato salsa
(Fish for Thought, Abel & Cole)

Brewery Hill Chardonnay/Viognier 2008 (Naked Wines)

š Main Course š

Grilled buffalo steaks with bearnaise sauce (Laverstoke Park)
Winter Beef Stew (Donald Russell)
Lamb hotpot (Donald Russell)

served with a selection of seasonal vegetables from Riverford organic
and handmade sourdough bread from St John Restaurant

Quinta do Lagoalva 2004 (Casa Leal and Viniportugal)
The Pastor’s Blend Journey’s End 2007

š Dessert š

Golden Chocolate Fondant served with Crème Fraiche
(Trish Deseine, Easy Tasty Magic and Sainsbury’s So Organic)
Titillating Jellies from Bompas & Parr

Lorca Fantasia Malbec 2008 (Naked Wines)
Castello Romitorio Morellino di Scansano 2007 (The Wineaux)

š Cheese š

Barbers 1833 Vintage Cheddar
Brockhall Farm Chive Goats Cheese
Trethowans Dairy
Gorwydd Caerphilly
A selection of deliciously fragrant cheese from Pong’s

Served with Peter’s Yard crispbread and a selection of seasonal fruit from Abel & Cole

Albarino Laga de Bouza 2007 (The Wineaux)

š And…

Coffee from Square Mile with milks from Sainsburysn,
Brockhall Farm and Lahloo Tea
Chocolate truffle by Lahloo tea and Damian Allsop

We also used ingredients throughout the menu donated by the following:
Abel & Cole – herbs
Billingtons
– sugar
Halen Mon – flavoured salts
Hill Farm
– extra virgin rapeseed oil
Maldon Salt – salt and pepper
Riverford Organic – assorted vegetables
Sainsbury’s – all dairy produce except cheeses and goats milk
Silfield Farm – chicken used for stock

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Blaggers’ Banquet: almost there!


So… it’s two days to D Day or should that be B Day? Are we all blagged out? Certainly not!

Things are shaping up really nicely. Hawksmoor have been fantastically supportive, how very brave of them to let us run a restaurant there! Hats off. We have great food, details of which I will not reveal here, but suffice to say that there are lovely aperitifs and canapes on arrival at 5.30pm with live music, and 4 further courses, crafted with our fair hands, using fantastic donated produce and all drinks are included. The drinks are superb, we have lovely wines and artisan beers & spirits, many of which are boutique items, at the very least they have fine credentials and taste wonderful. We’ll be making cocktails, we’re extremely fussy about these ones, so expect good things. There’s an excellent goodie bag for everyone at the end, a raffle and an auction of superb food and drink experiences and other much sought after items, alot of which have been crafted especially for the event.

The auction should be excellent. Fancy tea cocktails at Hix Soho with the Rare Tea Lady? There’s lots more! A years worth of burritos at Chilango worth £2,400, a 1 hour cooking lesson in the Konstam kitchen, a seasonal dish from start to finish, a Mexican cookery class with Thomasina Miers of Masterchef fame and Wahaca, 2 nights at a bijou top floor apartment with terraces in the heart of Barcelona’s old city and 7-course Essència tasting lunch menu at the one-star Cinc Sentits donated by Citywire Holdings. And on and on. The generosity has been staggering. There’s hope for the human race yet!

Curious? We’ve just released the final batch of tickets. All single tickets, and £75 all in. Bargain, I say! All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger. It’s worthwhile AND you get to eat and drink your body weight should you choose to do so. It should also be lots of fun and a very sociable affair. Don’t forget the best bit, you can review us after on a Blaggers’ Banquet blog. We promise to publish eveything.

I’ve also written a Word of Mouth piece about the Blaggers’ Banquet, have a look: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/nov/13/bloggers-blaggers-freebies

Tickets available on ebay: http://good.ly/clxes

Hope to see some of you on Sunday!

1 hour cooking lesson in the Konstam kitchen, a seasonal dish from start to finish
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Blaggers’ Banquet – Update

Blaggers' Banquet

Well, the blaggers’ banquet is all systems go and we’re blagging like k-razy. We’ve had an amazing and very supportive response from producers, restaurants, chefs, wineries, breweries… it’s been really inspiring. Everyone’s really pulled together and gotten things done. Wonderful.

We had our first meeting at the new Draft House on Northcote Rd, who donated the whole bar for the evening which was wonderful. This helped galvanise everyone and get things moving bringing us nicely to where we are now. We had a great evening drinking Murphy’s of Cork on draught and blackberry whiskey with some fantastic bar food – I’ll be back for sure.

We’ve have some fantastic donations since, both for the meal and for the night itself. We’re not going to spoil it by revealing anything for the meal or everything from the auction, but here’s a taster of some of auction items. The auction will run partially on the night and for a month after the banquet online, so, even if you’re not in London or not at Hawksmoor on the night, you can participate.

Autographed cookbooks from Fergus Henderson at St John’s – these are definitely unique and I expect a battle for them!

A year’s supply of Chilango vouchers (£2,400 value).

A Mexican cookery class from Thomasina Miers: author, intrepid tv chef, winner of Masterchef, and of Wahaca in London. The course is being run exclusively for the Blaggers’ Banquet auction. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn authentic Mexican Cuisine in London.

A Kitchenaid worth £369 for all you passionate cooks.

A cookery lesson at La Cucina Caldesi followed by lunch + a signed copy of Katie Celdesi’s new book.

White Christmas Tea collection from the fabulous Rare Tea Company including 2 lovely white teas and a teapot and tea cocktails at Hix Soho with the Tea Lady.

Tasting menus from L’Anima, Racine, Maze, Theo Randall, Tom Aikens & Launceston Place.

1 hour cooking lesson in the Konstam kitchen, a seasonal dish from start to finish.

A lovely Gordon’s Choice Hamper from Selfridge’s worth £130.

There’s lots more, all of which we will write about soon. Thanks to all of the blaggers who are doing *sterling* work and to all those who donated. We really appreciate it all of the support, as do Action Against Hunger.

So, we still need more auction items and items for goodie bags, indeed we need the bags themselves! Drop me an email at niamheen@gmail.com if you have something you would like to donate. We would love to hear from you.

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The Blaggers’ Banquet – Details at Last!

It’s time to reveal the details surrounding the Action Against Hunger Bloggers’ Fundraiser. On November 15th, we will be taking over Hawksmoor, the revered steakhouse in Liverpool St, for the blaggers’ banquet. This will be an exciting dinner created entirely by bloggers and using only food that they have blagged and that they themselves will cook and serve.

There will also be a blaggers’ auction, where we will be auctioning exciting items we’ve blagged. This auction will be two fold, a portion of it on the night, and the rest in the weeks following. Further details relating to the auction will be announced as they become available.

We’ve got just over three weeks to pull all of this off but we do love a challenge. All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger too, a great cause (more on them here).

PRODUCERS: Want to donate some produce? Food, drink, items for the auction? It might be a good way to get your products seen by thousands of blog followers and sampled by the lucky few who get tickets for the banquet. Please get in touch – email blaggersbanquet@gmail.com. We want to hear from you.

BLOGGERS: We’ve had a lot of blogger volunteers, but we could always do with more! We will need people in the kitchen, people front of house and blaggers. If you are interested in getting involvedven’t been in touch already, please email me at blaggersbanquet@gmail.com. Those that have been in touch, I’ll be emailing asap.

AUCTION: We need lots of stuff for auction. Whatever you’ve got. Equipment, food, wine, trips, posh dinners. Whatever you’ve got, seriously! There will be an auction on the night and an online auction. Email blaggersbanquet@gmail.com.

Thanks to Amy who designed our fab logo for free in her own time, and at extremely short notice. Much appreciated!

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Fight Hunger. Eat Out. Get Involved.

I’ve learned to say no to anything on Wednesday evenings which may distract me from the all important task of preparing for the food stall at Covent Garden on Thursdays. I stick resolutely to this (almost!), but, last Wednesday was different. I was invited to the launch of Fight Hunger. Eat Out (an Action Against Hunger Campaign) at Konstam (my favourite lunch haunt last year)Restaurants Against Hunger was founded in 1998 – an international movement of restaurant owners, chefs and food writers supporting Action Against Hunger and its goal to end child hunger. I am very interested in this charity, they do great work and I was keen to know more. The sweetener was the fact that one of my favourite singers – Beth Orton – also a supporter of the cause, would be playing a set. How could I not go?

Beth Orton
Beth Orton

The evening started nicely with some fantastic and interesting canapes by Chef patron and Action Against Hunger ambassador Oliver Rowe with Bob & Roberta Smith. These included eggs with carrots replacing the yolks, and fantastic very thin pizzas, which, sadly I have no photo of. It was lovely to see a few familiar faces, and to meet a twitter buddy that I had never met in the flesh before. Supporter of the campaign, Fergus Henderson of St John, was in attendance. I was too shy to say hi, although he was extremely busy, everyone wanted to talk to him.

On to the meat and two veg of the evening, the campaign itself. An inspiring campaign, they were very careful to stress that their goal is extremely challenging, but are aiming to do what they can in a difficult area where few NGO’s fear to tread. Action Against Hunger works in over 40 countries to carry out innovative, lifesaving programmes in nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, health and advocacy. Every year, 6,000 aid workers help over 4 million people worldwide.

Oliver Rowe & Fergus Henderson
Fergus Henderson & Oliver Rowe

Growing up in Ireland, we were ever aware of the problem of hunger in this world. Education was predominantly by the religious orders, and many of these teachers had spent time in the third world, so there was always a keen awareness of these issues. At home, if we left food on our plates, we were scolded for this, when so many children in this world had none. We raised money for third world charities in school campaigns, collected in Christmas campaigns for third world charities, delivering proceeds to the convent after. We even knitted vests for children with few clothes of their own when we were 9 years old. I really hope my baby lemon knitted baby vest I made was of use to someone! We did many sponsored 48 hour fasts, collected money over the lenten period for the third world that would normally have been spent on sweets, and every morning a money box in the shape of the globe would travel the school and we were all encouraged to add something ever day, even if it was just a penny.

Now, I was no saint. This kind of behaviour was entirely normal. Charity in Ireland is very strong and something that is widely encouraged and participated in. In recent years I’ve been lacking, preoccupied with my own concerns as many of us urban dwellers tend to be. So, this seemed like a good opportunity to participate.

I was impressed and inspired by what I had heard of the Fight Hunger, Eat Out campaign, and following on from a couple of conversations on the night, have started to arrange a blogger fundraiser to (hopefully) coincide with the campaign, and support their great work in some way and help get the word out.

Bloggers based in London, if you would like to get involved in our fundraising event, we will need a lot of participants and volunteers. I’ve had a fantastic response already which has been wonderful but we need more. If you are keen in getting involved please get in touch, and I will email you with details once they are confirmed.

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London Restaurant Week

Two fools – me and my winning photo

Following a tough week last week, packing and moving once more, this week has started on a fine note. One of my photos (Rhubarb Fool) was chosen to be exhibited at the launch party for London Restaurant Week last night along with food photos from celebrities (Amy Winehouse, Jodie Harsh, Jean Christophe Novelli to name a few) and members of the public like myself. I was invited, and with a friend attended, quite excited at the prospect of attending such a high profile event.

The champagne flowed and lovely small bites were provided, I indulged in the Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Green Peas and the Fish & Chips – greedy as I am, fear not, they were mini portions. I wolfed it down so quickly, I forgot to take a photo, which frankly, is unheard of. This was followed by a mini chocolate pudding and knickerbocker glory, delicious, and I do have photos of these :-)

All the while, there was much people watching and speculation, always fun. After a couple of hours, Jean Christophe Novelli took the floor and gave a speech, thanking everyone for attending and supporting the event. Then came the time to announce the winner of the photography competition. I wasn’t paying much heed as, really, the other photos were fantastic, so I continued to drink my champagne and nibble. Imagine my shock and surprise when he called out my name! So exciting.

So, here I am, the proud winner, with a fantastic prize: a dinner for two at a michelin starred restaurant. I really can’t wait to indulge. And indulge further I will, for those of you that don’t know of it, London Restaurant Week (actually two weeks this year) is an opportunity to eat at up to 100 of London’s leading restaurants for much less than normal. This list includes no less than 10 michelin starred restaurants. These 100 restaurants include some I’ve been really keen to try: Lindsay House, Bentley’s Bar & Grill, Tamarind, Quilon & The Cinnamon Club. Added to this, a charity benefits, lastminute.com has partnered for the second year running with Capital 95.8’s Help a London Child and 20p from each booking will be donated to the charity. It starts on the 14th April, but you can book now, so, get in there early and make the most of it! I will be. More on http://www.londonrestaurantweek.co.uk.

I’ll leave you with a very cheesy pic of me & Mr Novelli. Haha! What a nice man! Really charming and friendly, even with people like me approaching him with my little camera in hand looking for a photo :-)

Thanks to Sophie and all the guys from lastminute.com for organising a wonderful and fun party, and, of course, for my lovely prize!

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Menu for Hope – Just one more day to buy your ticket!

There’s just one more day to buy your ticket for Menu for Hope. Here’s an update from Pim:

We are getting so close to 50K I can smell it! It’s pretty clear now that we will beat our last year’s record before the campaign ends at the end of the week, but by how much, that’s for YOU to decide.

We have so many great prizes on our Menu for Hope this year that some of them haven’t enjoyed as much attention as they deserve. That means, my friends, you’ve got really good odds at getting those wonderful prizes with your $10 raffle ticket.

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? If you’re running behind, why not consider getting some on your list Menu for Hope raffle tickets instead of a present? They can feel good about helping the hungry, and they might even win something. It’s great all around.

My Europe host Fanny at Foodbeam has put up a list of her favorite prizes on her blog, while Adam over in New York showed you the under-appreciated prizes his East Coast list. Johanna and Jeanne in London also has one. Check them out.

She’s also got some great pictures taken by the kids in Lesotho on her blog. Have a look.

Jeanne from Cook Sister has posted: Want to make almost 100% sure you win something in Menu for Hope?

Take a look for info on prizes with few bids – you’ve a very good chance!

Menu for Hope 4

More on how to buy a raffle ticket and prizes here

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Menu for Hope – Raffle announcement & prize

In an earlier post, I mentioned Chez Pim’s Menu for Hope, a fundraising drive by food bloggers internationally.

Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme.

The funds raised bby Menu for Hope 4 will be earmarked for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.

I am very pleased to participate and it’s time for me to announce my prize, and to encourage you to participate in this worthwhile cause. I am putting forward two Irish cookbooks that I love: the Ballymaloe Cookery Course, a fantastic book written by Darina Allen, one of the co-founders and teachers at the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, 1175 recipes, 370 variations and more than 100 basic skills, from making pastry to the art of carving, from preserving lemons to making delicious home-made pasta, from culturing creamy yogurt to butterflying a leg of lamb: the simple instructions given by one of the world’s great cook-teachers will inspire you to prepare and enjoy the art of fresh produce and fine food & Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me: A Chef’s Stories and Recipes from the Land, the latest cookbook from award winning food writer and restaurateur Dennis Cotter. Cotter created a considerable stir with Café Paradiso and the award-winning Paradiso Seasons, both books that brought fresh and innovative elements into food writing. Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me is different from the earlier books; this is a winningly written, often very funny collection of anecdotes and tempting to vegetarian recipes. Cotter takes us on a journey which is both an introduction his favourite foods as well as a way of collecting the best possible ingredients — and as this involves foraging in woods and hedgerows, it’s not for those will have no wish to stray further than their kitchens. Want to know how to find the best mushrooms, sloes or wild greens? You’ll find Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me a highly useful guide.

Ballymaloe was one of my earliest culiary inspirations and Café Paradiso one of my favourite restaurants in Ireland, both books are wonderful and I would take great pleasure in sharing them with you. So, to inspire and encourage you, I plan to cook from both during the Menu for Hope drive. I will ship to the UK & Ireland.

So, be a sport and buy a virtual raffle ticket.

Donation instructions:

1. Go to the donation site at
http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make a donation.

2. Specify the prize code for this prize – UK14 – in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. If you would like to buy a ticket for another prize you can see the complete international list at http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2007/12/menu-for-hope-4.html. UK prizes are listed at http://www.cooksister.com/2007/12/menu-for-hope-2.html. If you are buying more than one ticket, please indicate how you would like the tickets to be allocated. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02. UK prizes are at:

3. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

4. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win.
Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

5. The results of the raffle will be annonced on Chez Pim on Wednesday Jaunary 9.