Our Birthday Bashes… a report

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Phew what a week of celebrations!!!

It seems unbelievable that we have now been cooking and serving secret dinners for two years… and what a two years it has been… what is more amazing is we now have nearly 1000 followers on Twitter and over 80 Facebook likes and some 60 plus subscribers to this blog as well as a mailing list of over 300 people. What started as a bit of a social experiment has become something of a monster that continues to gain momentum.

When we set out it was to proove a point that social media would be the way forward and well it seems as though you have embraced it with open arms and now clamour to be part of it and want more. We hope we can continue to provide an alternative to the traditional restaurant experience and welcome more to our home and give you something novel and just a touch different.

Well as I said what a celebration… a full house on both nights was what we had and not only that we had a night on the Friday where we were on tenterhooks as we awaited the results of the Torchlight Dinner Auction for the Hospice in the Weald. More about that in a bit.

We had decided as it was to be a birthday celebration we needed to do something a little bit more special! So the first course was to be based around liver – a Fresh Foie Gras as one component and then chicken livers as the other! So a smooth chicken liver parfait went out with a spoonful of homemade banana & date chutney and a slice of toasted brioche. The Foie Gras was seared and then served on top of a fresh rhubarb coulis to cut the richness… The pink coulis had a wonderful colour and also a delightful tartness. Well it all seemed to go down well and one diner on the Saturday night after having eaten one parfait hinted as to whether there was another spare one and promptly managed to finish a second one! This was not bad for someone who had admitted to us they did not like liver!!!

Next we served a double thick entrecôte steak that was trimmed of all fat and sinew. It was then roasted and topped with a breadcrumb crust with the addition of bone marrow, shallots, thyme and chopped parsley. This is a dish inspired by an Austrian/German chef Eckart Witzigmann who is something of a legend in Europe and inspired my early culinary career.

The bone marrow is something that we seemed to have forgotten as a food and some think it vile but I recently came across a great blog with some lovely recipes. I cannot wait to try the marrow on toast as a potential appetiser as I managed to purchase just over 10kg of the marrow bones from a great little butchers in Cranbrook.

We served our cheese boards next this time we had a couple of favourites Winterdale Shaw and Stichelton as the British representatives and a fresh goats cheese which we topped with a slug of olive oil and some truffle aged basalmic vinegar along with a mild tasting tomme de montagne completed the French contingent!

The final flourish was an Orange and Polenta cake that we served with a scoop of Sea Buckthorn sorbet. This ice cream is a first for the local artisan producer Taywells Ice Cream and is we believe the only manufacturers of this flavour.

Then a few days later we hosted a private dinner for a group… it was a surprise celebration for a young lad (Chris) that his girlfriend Lydia had managed to keep as a secret with much anguish for over 4 months since she had first enquired about hosting his special birthday bash… So we served an exclusive dinner to a party that had travelled from all over the place… it ended up being a really raucous evening. They tucked into some of our favourite dishes…They also left us some lovely comments in our guest book. So we think we have managed to celebrate in style!

The icing on the cake has to be the result of the Auction with the Hospice in the Weald Torchlight dinner I mentioned earlier… we had donated a prize to them that meant yours truly would be cooking for a private party of six persons… We had also because otherwise detained with our own suppers been unable to attend the dinner put together a little promotional video. With the generous help of two twitter followers @ambersandvideos and @copyconsultant to help on the video that was shot at Hever Castle to add something novel in the bid process.

We launched the video a couple of weeks before the dinner to help the promotion and had received some pre-bids. However on the night we are led to believe there was much frivolity and interest over the item that it was hotly contested by two parties. Anyway we raised £1,100 for the Hospice on the proviso if we could do a second dinner for the dejected second bidder they too would donate the same amount… how could we refuse so £2,200 was raised and we look forward to cooking for the parties concerned… The chefs who are assisting me in this were more than happy to donate their service for the extra money and so we think it was a job well done all in all.  The video we are informed certainly helped the process along  so if you have not seen it yet it can still be viewed here.

So that was our week of celebrations and now we are planning our next dinners… more on them soon and also another charity initiative to launch that will take Underground Dining to new heights – literally… so watch this space!