Having kicked Blue-Tomato editor Ben Norum out of my flat at midnight the night before for the crimes and misdemeanours of knife-wielding and rotten banana-eating, I found myself 8 hours later, back in his company, hangover included, to put our skillz to the test for NOMNOMNOM 2011 – a bloggers cooking challenge in aid of Action Against Hunger.
With our usual last-minute, slapdash style, we had planned precisely nothing save for a bizarre menu concocted from randomness and haggis scrawled on the back of a napkin.
The rest of the teams had planned, pre-planned, pre-cooked, gone through trial runs, came armed with graphs, notes, cooking times, you know… that sort of palaver that usually results in a well-turned out meal. However, sod it. Our menu was WAY more exciting, and frankly, given the glut of seen-it-before street market recipes being wheeled out, I was proud of our eclectic, left-of-centre choices.
So, to start with – breakfast grabbed at Rosalind’s Kitchen, the deli run by lovely Rosalind who also owns Cookery School where we were getting our cook on. Coffee went down a treat on my wine-damaged throat. We were lectured about how to hold knives (Ben, take note), how to wash hands, how not to do obvious things like lick spoons, then pick noses, scratch bums then put hands in the judge’s food, then we were packed off to the farmer’s market to shop for our ingredients.
For Ben and I this was code for “spend half the money necking oysters from the fish stall”. We poked cheeses, found a tomato called Douglas and tweeted it to Douglas Blyde, sniffed lavender and harassed the staff at Waitrose. Then, having returned to the school, then walked 3 miles in the wrong direction as we had forgotten to buy a lemon.
Our menu was composed thus:
tea-smoked tomato gazpacho.
Squid with saffron and chorizo salad.
Lemon Pepper Goat’s Cheese salad with summer berries.
Haggis and Rasberry Tart with Rasberry Jelly.
Miso cake with Green Tea and Lemon icing.
I admit, the haggis tart wasn’t our high moment, but our menu looked good and had style. I awarded us brownie points for cooking something different and got to laugh a lot when the judges appeared dumbfounded that our menu could possibly have been inspired by “just because”. The other teams cooked some amazing stuff, we all got to eat it at the end, but it was nothing you hadn’t had at a market stall before. Lamb meatballs. Pulled pork in a bun. Someone did something divine with Ginger Pig beef. There was a divine Vietnamese hot and sour soup floating about.
We didn’t win, but team Itinerant Tomato brought some bollocks to the table. Now there’s an idea for next years challenge… Bollock pie with blackberries… let me write this down…