Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas is coming

With little over a week to go until Christmas, I've finally made my Christmas cake today. Yes, I know it's late, but I've been a bit busy moving into a new apartment. I'm also still waiting for all of my recipe books and baking paraphernalia to arrive (apparently our container still hasn't sailed from the UK even though it's nearly two months since some nice men came and packed it all away into boxes - something to do with a little sprinkling of snow...).

Fruit soaking in brandy and orange juice for my Christmas cake.

But whilst Christmas day is coming up shortly, and I'm looking forward to leaving the rather chilly mid-west behind to celebrate with friends in LA, this won't be my first Christmas lunch of the year.

Back in the UK I have a group of girl-friends who I've known for most of my time living in London, and as with all groups who have been friends for a while, certain traditions creep in. One of these was that each year I would organise a pre/post-Christmas lunch for all of us to, well, eat, drink and be merry (some years perhaps a little too merry). As this year I wasn't going to be around I decided Christmas should come early, complete with dinner, paper hats, and secret Santa. But where to have a Christmas feast in autumn? I didn't want any of us to cater the occasion as it would be loads of work and the hostess wouldn't get to relax and enjoy things, and no restaurants were serving Christmas menus yet.

The girls.

So what to do? As i've mentioned in previous posts, I'm very interested in the supperclub movement, and so I contacted Lex of Lex Eats to see if she'd be interested in hosting the occasion for us. Happily she said yes, and along with Nicola from The Shed supperclub, produced a wonderful Christmas for us.

Our very tasty cured salmon starter, which followed a fantastic traditional prawn cocktail amuse bouche.

We arrived at Lex's incredibly cool Shoreditch loft apartment to be greeted by Bucks Fizz, and a fantastic traditional menu of cured salmon (cured by Nicola herself - everyone had seconds), roast ham for the meat eaters, and blackened cod for the pescaterians with all of the traditional trimmings. After a very refreshing mulled wine sorbet, we all attacked the Christmas pudding with vigour, and everyone got a sixpence. And finally, a wonderful cheese course of stichelton (from what I can remember, the original stilton), and Montgomery's cheddar, along with oatcakes and honey.

Christmas pudding served on a rather appropriate Britannia plate. It created several converts to the traditional treat.

Everything about the occasion was fantastic. The brown paper table cloth reminded each of us what we were eating with details of each course, there were newspaper Christmas crowns for everyone to wear, and the ease and calm with which Lex and Nicola produced an incredible Christmas dinner for eight astounded us all. Of course it was a bit emotional saying farewell to a group of wonderful friends, but what a fantastic way to do it!

In between courses we got creative, making our own additions to the menu tablecloth.