After what felt like far longer than six weeks, I finally made it to half term. I wasn’t expecting to be quite so exhausted. But I have become rather accustomed to my quaint little life on the outer perimeter of the Cotswolds. Baking for and with kids and staff, cycling into town on my beautiful new Bobbin bike, mid-week brunching, regular 5pm hot choccies with all the trimmings, cowl-neck jumpers, and countryside walks (treks). The change of pace in comparison to this time last year is verging on comical. I would never have expected it. But it’s definitely what was needed.
On the subject of major contrast, last week I was given the opportunity to attend my first British blogging event since moving back from the Middle East. I was suddenly propelled from reattaching buttons on school skirts and bossing 1000-dot dot-to-dots in Gloucestershire, to mingling with a handful of the UK’s food & lifestyle blogging elite in a rooftop venue in Hackney, London. And to top it off – the special guests and food-tainment for the evening were high on my list of culinary heroes (I’ve written about them here in the past) – SORTEDfood. Yaaas, my friends, yaas.
The event, hosted by Rennie as part of their Happy Eating campaign, celebrated tasty street food with a series of speedy demonstrations, inspired by the fast acting effect of Rennie.
Having got mildy confuzzled with directions, a mishap that I hold myself entirely responsible for, I arrived fashionably (an hour) late, but thankfully just in time for the first live-cooking demonstration. I swiped a cheeky cocktail and shimmyed through to the front of the crowd to gain a solid view of the SORTED boys in action. The bevvies, provided by Christabel’s, were divine. My favourite was a thyme and pomegranate prosecco delight, but the other two options contained edible glitter. Glitter rocks. Edible glitter rocks more. Moving on.
The first demo was inspired by a good old American dish – chicken and waffles. This version used pandan, a green liquid that comes from a tropical plant called pandanus amaryllifolious, and that is often used in South East Asian cooking. I’d never heard of the stuff, and was skeptical about the colour it turned the pancakes. But the nutty sweet flavour was actually rather delicious, and worked beautifully with the fried chicken. Plus the samples that were brought out for us to taste were actually not green in colour at all. Apparently it depends on the variety of pandan flavouring you use. Interestingly, green food colouring is often added to intensify the hue in Pandan Cake if the flavouring doesn’t give enough colour. Ooo #tangent. Let’s continue…
A few more delicious cocktails, nibbles, and food-infused conversations with fellow guests later, and it was time for round two – churros with a coffee chocolate sauce. Is your mouth watering? Mine is. What I loved in particular about this demo was Barry ballsing up the chocolate sauce, and Ben then swooping in ever so elegantly to fix the situation (mix over-heated chocolate back into cream to sort it out). Unscripted, but perfectly capturing the essence of what SORTEDfood is all about. It’s only Ben who has any culinary training. The others are just a group of guys with a common love of good food. Sometimes things go a little awry, but that’s all part of the fun, and what makes it so accessible to their followers. It certainly made for good entertainment!
The most exciting part of the evening was the announcement of the #renniemysterybox winners. We had all filled in little cards with our names on earlier on in the evening for the draw. Rennie has been sending SORTEDfood mystery ingredients for the past few months to explore and cook with – check out their YouTube channel for videos:
The blogger version follows the same principle. If your name was called, you chose a door, behind which was a Rennie cool bag with your very own mystery ingredient. I was so excited when my name was called, I practically skipped up to the front!
My ingredient turned out to be Rutabaga – two of them in fact. They look quite swedey. Probably because that is exactly what they are. A rutabaga/Swedish turnip/swede is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. My challenge is to research and develop a recipe containing the ingredient. So expect that soon. I’m working on it. The key, I feel, is to come up with something interesting. So probably the opposite of “neeps and tatties”, despite my love of the scottish dish!
Before heading home, I swooped in and got a snapshot with the SORTEDfood team – both with the mystery cool bag…
….and then after a rather awkward shuffle to whip my swedes out (saucy), a cheeky shot with one in each hand. I think Barry’s face says it all really.
The picture is honestly the ultimate highlight of my blogging existance so far. I will most likely, and unashamedly, get the thing printed and framed.
A huge thanks to the Rennie team for the opportunity – it was a great evening and I’m looking forward to creating something delightful with my Rutabagas!