“Does anyone have any inflatables?” said the e-mail. A strange request for a Saturday night but being familiar with Brighton I have come to realise that anything goes.
It would transpire the inflatables were to play an integral part in the transformation of the Brighthelm cafe for the second Brighton Food Society dinner. Under the watchful eye of interior designer Pearl Maddox, Patrick McGuigan and Euan MacDonald created beach themed surroundings (minus the sand of course) to welcome our guests to our Beyond the Pier event.
Amid all the huffing and puffing in the cafe came a stream of food for the kitchen. First the fish kindly supplied by Seafish. Plaice fillets had been caught by a Mozart loving fisherman on his boat Amadeus. The crevettes snuggled in their icy bed smelled just like the sea as only wonderfully fresh seafood can. Joe Lutrario arrived laden with naked fowl with their prehistoric looking feet intact. Becci Edmondson and Andy Lynes would follow soon after to join the kitchen crew. Now all we had to do was make the food taste as good as the cafe looked.
As always the day passed with alarming speed as the four of us avidly chopped, whipped, sautéed and sieved. Suddenly, people were arriving to enjoy a glass of complimentary Classic Cuvée from Nyetimber. Becci’s canapés which included devilishly spicey crab crostini and hot smoked salmon blinis went down a storm.
Meanwhile, the Brookland White chickens were stubbornly taking their time to cook apparently oblivious to the fact they were to be the main element of the starter. When they finally emerged from the oven their crisp, golden skin had protected the succulent meat underneath. Neatly sandwiched in a brioche roll expertly crafted by Joe the sliced chicken tasted slightly gamey as you often dream chicken should taste but so rarely does.
Joe and Andy stepped up to the mark to deftly cook the fish while I plated smoked potato and ‘seaweed’ rostis and buttered samphire. The delicate plaice fillets were bathed in the coral bisque sauce which had caused me much anguish before the event. Was all the peeling, pounding and sieving worth the effort? Apparently so, as praise filtered into the kitchen from the dining room. There was high praise too for Andy’s vegetarian orzo stuffed tomato served with a piquant tartare style sauce.
A brief respite in the kitchen followed as the Paxton and Whitfield cheese course was ferried to the tables by our front of house team led by Becky Paskin. The lucky diners were given a glass of Barbeito Boal Reserva Madeira courtesy of Butlers Wine Cellar. Andy’s sticky toffee apple pudding was up next with Rodda’s clotted cream. His rich caramel sauce had people positively swooning. Matthew Drennan’s ‘beach biscuit’ petit fours (ever so cute mini bourbons, hob nobs and jammie dodgers), which made their way into the goody bags, proved an excellent way to round off our seaside themed evening.
For the ‘chefs’ the end of the evening arrived before it seemed it had started. The inflatable turtle, ray and beach balls were deflated but we were still buzzing from the experience and looking forward to the next Brighton Food Society event.
By Sam Bilton
Recipes from the event will follow soon!
With special thanks to:
The Brighthelm Centre - a community space with meeting and performance rooms for hire
Interior designer Pearl Maddox: email: pearlmaddoxinteriors (at) gmail.com tel: 07716 114 995
Nyetimber sparkling wine
Seafish, which supports the seafood industry in the UK
Henry Butler from the Butler's Wine Cellar
Rodda's clotted cream
Matthew Drennan from Flour Town
Goody bag treats included:
Tribute ale from St Austells
Cornish Yarg from Lynher Dairies
Luscombe soft drinks