From left to right: Jeanne, Pille, Xochitl, Steve, Christina, Shana, Anna, Colin, Amy, Andrew, June.
With apologies for the long radio silence and a heartfelt "Thank you" to all of you for your great recommendations for Rome (which I shall compile into a proper post soon), this is to say I am back. Back, and back with a vengeance.
Nothing better to beat the nausea, weight loss and faintness of the last months than to cook up a storm in my very own kitchen and invite a bunch of fellow foodbloggers over for a blog birthday celebration!
Jeanne and I were both celebrating two years of foodblogging and pleased to welcome a few old blogger friends, already considered regulars at our irregular meetings ever since the first event a year ago, like Andrew (SpittonExtra), Christina (The Thorngrove Table), Anna (Baking for Britain) and, joining us from Estonia by way of Edinburgh for the second time, Pille (Nami-Nami) who was actually en route to Greece (oh the jet-set life she leads!!!). But we were very lucky to also count a fair number of new faces: Amy (Cooking with Amy) had come all the way from San Francisco, thus acting (as is tradition) as our ambassador par excellence for all blogs overseas (we were sorry to have to accept late cancellations from Zsofi (Chili & Vanilia) in Brussels and Nicky (Delicious Days) in Munich). New "local" bloggers included Xochitl (Xochitl cooks), June (Bread, water, salt, oil) and Shana (owlfish)... what a great addition to an already lovely group! I hope we'll see you more often from now on - and: remember, remember, the 1st of July at Henley!*
Copious amounts of pink cava called for scrumptious food for stomach lining, especially given that the first cork popped shortly after 2pm! The menu of finger food we put together reads as follows:
- Olives and smoked almonds
- Salmon & cream cheese roly-polies
- Feta, melon, mint & olive skewers
- Mini-potatoes with wasabi crème fraîche and caviar
- Tuna & celery cream rolled in roast red peppers (Jeanne)
- Gazpacho shots with poppyseed & paprika swirls
- Figs & manchego wrapped in prosciutto
- Croustades with creamed mushrooms and crispy pancetta
- Olives in crispy parmesan pastry (Jeanne)
- Halloumi, peppadew & boerewors skewers (Jeanne)
- Chicken balls with Vietnamese dipping sauce
Those items on the list which warrant a recipe have either got a link to an existing entry or a recipe will follow shortly - for Jeanne's contributions, please consult the Cook sister! website for details.
For an indulging finale to a fabulous party, I had borrowed my friend Martina's chocolate fountain and after a few scary moments when everybody was busying themselves cutting pineapple, mango, kiwi and banana with Global knives (I only realised when they were in action that they were working under the influence of alcohol and the strong summer sun... well, the hospital is just across the road and they were good enough not to make me drive them to A&E after all) we were fighting to get access to the dripping chocolate feast.
Apart from the very moment this picture was taken, Xochitl's husband Steve, as well as our very own Andrew, managed to secure pretty much permanent positions around the bar table, with everybody else competing for the remaining 30 cm of table access... which came to show afterwards with huge chocolate stains on their otherwise perfectly white shirts - serves you right for being greedy, chaps!!
It certainly was great fun having everybody over - it's always fantastic to welcome new additions to our blogger meetings, but we had an exceptionally nice group of people this time... great company, gorgeous weather and delicious food - a truly memorable birthday party for Cook sister! and The Passionate Cook!
*Two bloggers felt scared enough at the prospect of meeting complete strangers in a non-public environment to bring along their partners for moral/physical support - so welcome, also, to Steve and Colin!