I love that my work affords me the flexibility to spend an entire Friday afternoon immersed in the most epic lunch of all time.
Of all the times in my life I’ve ever wished I hadn’t driven to an event, this was it.
The party started with drinks in the parlour where Silvana actually had – I kid you not – a negroni table. But in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t have an excuse to tie one on, because then I would risk forgetting (or embarrassing myself in front of) all of the lovely people I met. I’ve never met a more sociable group of people.
As I nursed my small glass of champagne and Campari, I got to know “official barman” Martin Yarnit (@martinyarnit) of Taste for Bologna, Ben Vear (@benjaminvear) of Winstones Ices ice cream, Dan Vaux Nobes (@essexeating) of the popular Essex Eating blog and Montpelier Basement supperclub in Bristol and Emma Bond (@emmmab) of Bath Garden Design and Bath Gardening School. I also caught up with my friend and colleague Rachel Demuth (@demuths) of Demuths Restaurant and Vegetarian Cookery School, and that was all before lunch was actually served.
So let’s talk about that lunch. We started with a beautiful “the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn” tomato and butternut squash soup served with Silvana’s delicious focaccia and crostini. The rest was a communal food fest, with plenty for vegetarians and fans of “dead barnyard animals and birds” alike.
Fagioli all uccelletto was my favourite dish, made with haricot, butter and borlotti beans cooked with garlic, chilli, tomatoes, cavolo nero and rosemary (Silvana as generously shared the recipe with me which I shall share in a separate post):
Also up for grabs were a green salad with fregola, nasturtiums and pinenuts and Silvana’s famous beetroots cooked with apples, red onions and toasted hazelnuts
Animals and birds included lamb shanks cooked in Manzanilla sherry and fennel; peposo – shin of beef with garlic and black pepper cooked in Chianti; saffron scottiglia game hunter’s stew; and chicken liver pate on crostini
My dinner neighbours included Charlie Lee-Potter (@eggsontheroof) of Eggs on the Roof and Urvashi Roe (@BotanicalBaker) of Great British Bake Off fame and the Botanical Baker blog. Lots of chat about food, photography, journalism, blogging, baking, and, well, just the sort of topics you’d expect amongst a group of food-obsessives. I was also introduced to Pascale Cumberbatch (@extrarelish) who takes phenomenal pictures of food and has a beautiful blog called Extra Relish.
Dessert was a meal onto itself:
- Pistacchio Cake
- Apple, raisin and Amaretto di Saronno cake
- Torta di Capri – chocolate and almond cake
- Quinces roasted in a lemon zest, vanilla seed and thyme sugar syrup
- Honey and coconut kisses
- Lemon biscuits and mini meringues
- Winstones Ices Ice creams
Plus about 12 different cheeses from Quayles of Tetbury, Paxton and Whitfield, Woefuldane Organic, Legges of Bromyard and Trethowans Dairy. Heaven for a cheese lover.
The afternoon ended as well as it begin, gathering quinces from Silvana’s bountiful tree. I took home a few handfuls and have great plans for roast quinces and quince sorbet. The Foodie Bugle lunch lives on!
There were quite a few other people who I didn’t get to talk to as much as I would have liked – Rebecca Bernstein, Francoise Murat, Tory MecTernan, Cinead McTernan of The English Garden, Mark Glynne-Jones of Jump To, Camilla Wilson of Daylesford Organic, Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers, Pam Lloyd, Sofie Boddy, Sir William and Lady Ali Hanham of Deans Court – it was a big party. All the more reason to look forward to next time.
With the quinces and the food and the people and the party, well, it probably goes without saying that Silvana is one of the most generous people you will ever meet. She’s also a damn fine chef and keeps a gorgeous house. It’s the foodie dream, which I continue to chase, along with her quinces.