This year the team took a slightly more left-field approach to the traditional staff Christmas party. Not a single misguided cracker joke was cracked, the roasted chestnuts were kept well away from any open fires and there wasn’t a single paper hat in sight! Instead we decided to take a trip to Food at 52 and a class in how to cook Southern Indian cuisine. Ho, ho, ho…?
The day began with us exchanging our pantomime-themed secret Santa presents at the studio. This presented a true test of our creativity - and everyone duly delivered - resulting in a collection of gifts fit for Cinderella herself! See if you can match the gift to the pantomime…some are pretty obvious but others are, frankly, bizarre…
One glass of champagne later and we were making the short trip to Old Street to begin our afternoon of fun at Food at 52.
The breakfast round of bacon sarnies were quickly banished from memory the moment we walked through the doors – the place smelt amazing!
We made our way downstairs to the kitchen area and took our places at the long worktop. Aprons were fastened, name badges were written and, despite a brief scuffle between two of the chefs (see below), we began work on the various recipes that had been divvied out to the 3 teams.
I’ve added a selection of the dishes we made on the day below. The main feast came at the end of the day but the team did stop for a snack in the afternoon, though I think this acted more as ‘wine-absorber’ than anything else!
Each team of 4 were given a set of spices, herbs & mixtures (above left). These included black mustardseeds, coriander seeds, garam masala, cumin, turmeric (which I’m still washing out of my clothes), diced coconut & asafoetida which is the dark looking mixture.
Each seed, powder or spice formed an integral part of each of the 11 dishes we prepared.
The doughnut looking creations (below) are spinach Vadai. The batter is made from dal, asafoetida & chilli. You then mix in the spinach, onion and coriander and deep fry for 5 minutes until golden brown. The curry you see below the vadai is a chicken Nadam Kozhi which was delicious. Like most of the dishes it packed quite a punch and was bursting with ingredients and textures. The sauce had a coconut base and was then flavoured with chilli, ginger, cashews, garlic & onion. Gum anyone?
The red dish below is a beet Pachadi which is a lightly spiced vegetable dish made from beetroot, coconut & ginger. This is flanked by two other sides, an aubergine Rasavangy and a Tindori Thoran, both used as great spicy dips for the spinach Vadai.
It may not have been the most ‘Christmassy’ activity for the season but it was a welcome break from all the turkey & christmas puddings one usually consumes this time of year. I can honestly say that I left food at 52 feeling fuller (and merrier) than any previous Christmas doo!
To help the digestion process we decided to walk to the Book Club Bar and we remained there for the rest of the night. Old scores were settled during some heated exchanges on the table tennis table before we all headed downstairs to inflict our dance moves on the unsuspecting general public.
Little more to say other than we wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year! Our next update will be in 2014.