Some folk go through life collecting prizes and awards. I don’t. Never have in fact. The last one was “Best Dressed Tourist,’ in the 2011 Haslemere Rugby Club Under 14's 'Ken & Barbie' Tour. So, it was a something of a Blue-Riband, memorable event when Crumble passed the finishing line first on Friday evening in an unexpected and well received win over pretty stiff opposition to win the much coveted “Hell or Heaven Best Chef Award.’ I kid you not…… it pays to be a winner.
The back story to the event was that a good chum had accidentally bought a ‘Chef comes to your house and cooks with you evening,’ at a silent auction at Twickenham. (Note to the unwary….. don’t ever fill in a form for fun and carelessly leave it on the table when you leave to watch the match….. they will track you down.) Being a good spirited soul my chum honoured his ‘commitment,’ and kindly included me on the guest list. A brisk start saw us kick-off at 5pm with the first glass of fizz and straight into the task at hand, boys cooked under the benign supervision of Andy from Culinary Temptations ; and girls chit-chatted as they do whilst we toiled. I of course was stiffed with the starter which may sound like a breeze but there was the small technical challenge of it being a goats cheese soufflé. Unfortunately, I don’t much like eggs and I definitely don’t like goats cheese….. issues…
With one of our number delayed at Geneva airport the field was reduced to just the three of us, starter, main and pudding. I very much approach cooking in the same way I would building an Airfix kit. Follow the instructions to the letter and without deviation. We have form here. The Crumble boys never lost the annual St Edmunds School Airfix modelling competition and I wasn’t going to let the side down. I had though, very stiff competition with my fellow guest doing the main course who was doing a blistering job with his Moroccan lamb and was easily more technically accomplished than was I. His marinated courgette had me worried and to be frank, it was the best thing I tasted all night but then he had cous-cous on his menu. Well, you’re never going to win when you have to present something that even at it’s best has the consistency and taste of hamster droppings. I mean, who ever really orders that thing? My host was, at least to begin with, all over his big task of creating and serving chocolate fondants with caramelised banana and honeycomb. No easy thing there. Obviously, his competitive spirit came through right from the get-go and to be fair, he was doing an amazing piece of work …. right up until the combined impact of too much enthusiasm with the early opening of the Tattinger followed by a ‘taster,’ of the Yamasaki Japanese whisky, (first for me and actually, not a bad dram), dulled his timing and technical edge to produce some disappointingly droopy, but nice tasting, chocolate fondants. Droopy but nice tasting could be an anthem for middle aged men.
So, the goats cheese soufflé won the day and what a fun and memorable evening it was. Winning was a bit of a surprise but was welcome and uplifting nonetheless. I’ll take every win I can get at this stage.