The Big Peckham Lunch

We did it! Yesterday afternoon the people of Rye Apartments came together along with a bunch of my mates for a good old nosh up in the car park. Today I feel totally exhausted but so happy that we managed to pull it off. I’ll be honest, there were moments during our 13 hour cook-off the day before when I was apprehensive. What if there isn’t enough food? What if people don’t turn up? We started at 9am and before we knew it, we were slumped on cardboard boxes in the middle of my flat, dishevelled and slightly sweaty, trying to keep our eyes open to finish rolling vine leaves; it was 11pm. A long hard day and a huge amount of work.

It was important to do justice though, to the stellar ingredients that people donated and I must say a heartfelt thank you to all of them.

On the food front, Riverford Organics donated fruit, vegetables and herbs; Barber’s donated some of their delicious cheddar (which went into a cheese and onion tart, biscuits, scones and pretty much anything else) and Maryland Farmhouse butter. Rachel’s Organic sent milk, yoghurt (a whole lot of yoghurt), crème fraiche and cream, and Pong Cheese a selection of their cheeses including a Camembert, a goat’s cheese, a cheddar and a Bath Soft Cheese. They went into quiches and tarts.

Green and Blacks sent their organic chocolate for our super squidgy brownies and marbled chocolate meringues, and for the cake making, we had flour kindly donated by Kate Thal at Green and Blue Wines and unrefined sugar from Billington’s. The eggs were really special; old breed Burford Browns, Old Cotswold Legbar and duck eggs from Clarence Court. The colour of the yolks was intensely amber. Sally Butcher from Persepolis stepped in on the nuts and honey side of things – we had coffee and walnut cake, sunflower seeded biscuits and cherry and ground almond cake, plus some stuffed vine leaves with raisins. In our cakes and on our scones we spread clotted cream from Rodda’s and Fraser Doherty’s fruity Super Jam and I must mention that they were speedily and expertly mixed by my new pride and joy, which Kitchenaid sent to ease the burden on my puny arm muscles. She is the newest sparkliest shade of grape; I’ve named her Gilberta.

The ever brilliant Paganum kindly donated 3 amazing topsides of Malhamdale Belted Galloway beef, which we used in roast beef and horseradish sandwiches, plus a Thai-style salad dressed with chilli, fish sauce, coriander and the like. Yianni of Meatwagon fame sorted me out with chicken drumsticks from his butcher and of course I had to jerk some, although I managed to rein myself in slightly and Tikka the rest for variety.

On the drinks side of things, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people who wanted to get involved. We had loose leaf tea from Lahloo, plus a lot of booze for those feeling fruity. Russian Standard Vodka donated 3 bottles for vodka iced teas; The Ship, a brilliant pub in Wandsworth run by a great bunch of people sent over Pimm’s plus all the trimmings – very summery. On the beer and fizzy front we had Moritz and Rothaus beer from The Beer Merchants, there was sweet, fruity cider from Sweden (Rekorderlig) plus Young’s London Gold, Adnams bitter, Red Stripe lager and Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer which everyone loved. It’s available in quite a few pubs around London now – I urge you to give it a try.

For those who avoid the bubbles, there was vino from my new local, The Victoria Inn, the owner of which helped out in more ways than one throughout the whole event, even ferrying over another Kitchenaid in his car. His motto is “the pub is hub”. Bloody nice bloke. Casillero del Diablo provided more wine and there was stonking chilled sherry from Tio Pepe. I think we can agree that there was something for everyone!

To round off the feast, some Bompas and Parr iris jellies with ambergris (that’s whale vomit to you and me) and candied orange from their Complete History of Food event. We wibbled them around and giggled. Hic! They were seriously boozy with Courvoisier. I love everything Bompas and Parr do and you should too.

And last, but by no means least, I’d like to say a really huge thank you to my mate Lizzie. She worked like a dog during that 13 hour cook off and basically kept me going throughout. I could not have done it without her so thank you Mabs, for being a damn good friend. We make a brilliant team.

So that’s it! We used 40 eggs, 3kg flour, 4kg sugar, an absolute shedload of cheese and a whole bottle of washing up liquid (not in the cakes you understand). My friend Rachel made that amazing bunting from my dodgy old clothes which is, quite frankly, nothing short of a miracle. The only slight disappointment was that more of the neighbours didn’t turn up but hey, what can I do; we put on an amazing spread and all they had to do is walk outside – if that doesn’t encourage them then nothing will. The ones that did turn up were absolutely lovely though and I invited a load of my mates anyway so the whole thing went off Peckham stylee. Today is a bit of a come down but I’ll get over it; I’ve already started thinking about a new project to sink my teeth into.

Of course the whole idea was to raise money for Maggie’s and that we did. The donations are still trickling in and we’ve already reached the £200 mark so I think that makes the event a success. Thanks so much to everyone who donated money. You did good. I’ll leave you with a little vid of the cook-off and the lunch itself. Cheers!

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