Monday, 15 November 2010

The TWMF Supperclub 2nd Album: Diwali

What's that saying they have about breakthrough artists' problems with their second album? i think i might have felt a bit of that after our 2nd TWMF supperclub. this time round we decided to celebrate diwali by doing an indian vegetarian/vegan menu.

my trusted companions for the past two weeks have been Manjula's cooking videos on Youtube and my treasured book Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi. I've tried lots of recipes in this book in the past and most have come out flawless and delicious the first time round.

which is no excuse for me throwing every last ounce of caution to the wind and embarking on a 9-course menu featuring a few dishes i'd be making for the first time. silly silly mel! when will you learn? i get like this you see, i start going off in tangents and basically want to cook as many different things as i can.

on thursday we felt amazingly calm and in control. i had my list i was checking it once twice all the time...

i did a lot of prep, making chenna and then rolling them into little balls which would then be fried off at the last minute and mixed into the Royal Rice

but by saturday night, after the first set of dishes went out i was well stuck in 'the weeds' and didn't think i'd be able to break through. in the thick of it i started making silly mistakes and by the end of it i was shattered.

this doesn't mean the guests didn't have a diverse menu featuring dishes you'd probably not find in your average indian restaurant. or that the food was awful. empty plates came back, and the leftovers said it all. of all 9 dishes, two had significant leftovers. which means i really didn't need to make them. and THAT, my friends is the biggest lesson learned. it's not about how many different dishes i can squeeze in, it's about doing the ones i love with the care and attention they deserve, because that feeling makes it way all the way to the plate. and, while it was a hard lesson to learn, i'm glad i did!

so, here are some more 'lessons learned' this time around:

  1. don't make too many dishes for one night.

  2. make food that you feel comfortable, confident and passionate about

  3. practice the menu or at the very least every single dish before the day

  4. prep all you can the day before

i'm very much looking forward to living by these lessons at our next supperclub. hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Flantastic First Supperclub Night

Finally we've launched TWMF Supper Club. And with the first night under our belts I've got time to reflect on the whirlwind weekend it was.

We did the first shop, mostly alcohol-based, on Thursday night after work. Keep in mind we don't have a car here. It's just us and our rucksacks and public transport. We do have a trolley that we can hitch to Kelsie's bike, but decided on public transport this round as we didn't know how much we'd be able to carry. Good thing we split the alcohol shopping from the food shopping. Wine and beer bottles are heavy.

The next morning we did the big Ikea shop. Got there really early and did pretty well, except we got stuck on the chairs and which to buy, cushions or no cushions? wish we knew how to sew, wish our friend jorge were here to help sew nice covers, do we have enough dessert forks? we took a taxi for this round, meeting Kofi, a Ghanaian in Spandau who was v. surprised when i started talking to him in Ewe.

We were home long enough to drop the stuff off and headed back out to do food shop part 1. This involved a journey to Charlottenburg to Aqui Espana to get the rest of the Mexican ingredients and the all important tequila. Had a mini-meltdown when we couldn't decide to spend another hour going to Getrankmarkt in Mitte where we were sure we could get the same bottle of Tequila for way cheaper. Decided not to, and headed back to Aqui Espana for the more expensive bottle.

Short train trip back to Spandau where we did food shop part 2 and finally got home around 5:30 pm. OMG. I started in on the flans and washing all the new crockery/cutlery/glassware. By 8 pm i was ready to start the mole. Mole is a very time consuming recipe. Practically each individual ingredient has to be cooked separately before joining the rest. And as with any sauce it takes time to develop. Lots of time. At 2:30 am i was finally finished. The house smelled deliciously spicy with all the cooking smells but i was beyond knackered.

After a fleeting sleep with mole-filled dreams I woke up on saturday. LATE! It was already 9 am and i still had to go back for food shop part 3. I left Kels at the flat to start setting things up, and hightailed it back to Charlottenburg for the farmers market at Karl-August Platz. Found beautiful side of salmon at my favourite fish stall, bargain limes, gorgeous lettuce, and pretty flowers for the table.

Once home i started 'cooking' the salmon ceviche, braising the turkey, and did all the prep for the evening. Lots of onion and garlic chopping, prepping the lime vinaigrette for the salad, and two of the 3 salsas. Amazingly by 5 pm i was ready. Kelsie had tranformed our place into a mini-Mexico, replete with crepe paper bunting with Dia de los Muertos cut-outs, and a beautifully laid out table. All i wanted was for the first guest to arrive so that i could start sending the food out.

And the bell rang. 4 guests arrived at once. I put the totopos in the oven and started making a batch of guacamole. 10 minutes later, another 3 arrived. Totopos and 3 salsas went out, Kelsie was expertly mixing margaritas and serving drinks. 20 minutes later we were still waiting for the remaining two guests to arrive. and waiting. and ...waiting. we decided to start the meal and i plated up the ceviche.

it got quiet. good thing? bad thing? kels brought back empty dishes. good thing! meanwhile i did the rice and calabacitas con elote. mole was ticking away. everything running like clockwork.

and, because we had two no-shows we got to sit at the table too. that was probably the coolest thing for me. sitting at the table with our guests, talking about the food, watching them enjoy it. really really gratifying.

we had plenty of food for seconds (and more...). salad with lime vinaigrette and toasted pepitas was next. a nice fresh palate cleanser after the heady flavours of the mole.

and for dessert one of the two flans i made the night before. coffee and the aged tequila. and more tequila. and chili-orange truffles. before we knew it it was past midnight and our guests were making their way home. we surveyed the scene and after one more tequila (what were we thinking?!) went to bed.

sunday was a painfully hungover day interspersed with washing batches of dishes and trudging back to bed for hangover recovery.

i'm learning things as i go along. here's what i've learned this round:
1) split the shopping into stages esp if you don't have a car.
2) 10 people is not the same as an army. don't make too much food or you'll be eating leftovers for eternity.
3) it takes a lot less room if you chill your wine/beer outdoors. especially if it's cold outside.
4) avocados take longer than you think to ripen.
5) keep those water jugs full.
6) don't mix margarita/beer/white wine/red wine/tequila/port in the same night.
7) remember to take pictures!

Special thanks to FoodieInBerlin for her kind review and to all our guests for making the first night a success! We hope you join us again for another supperclub evening.