Thursday, 10 June 2010

Birthday party on the Thames... May 1st

It was only after accepting to cater for a birthday party did I actually stop to think what I had undertaken. I had said yes so confidently with a casual wave of the hand that I even convinced myself it was almost nothing. Only after waking in the early hours with rising panic day after day did I let myself face what was ahead of me. The remit was catering for 70 people, including children and all the dietary requests to be served from bespoke picnic boxes to include all food in seperate containers, drink, gift bags, chocolates cutlery, menu and napkin/toothpicks. All this was left to me to source, design, cook, assemble and deliver to a boat where the guests would be waiting. This I was doing alone. Yes alone, ah the wisdom of hindsight ! Sourcing all the required bits and pieces was the easy part and choosing 70 bespoke boxes of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat was fun ! With everything being delivered to me over several weeks my flat became simply a warehouse where I would crawl over the mountain of boxes and collapse into bed. With a stroke of luck at the last minute a friend living in Oxford offered the use of her kitchen, so with everything loaded into the van I drove into the jaws of hell ! My Oxford kitchen was 4 floors up with no lift so challenging to say the least. My daughter arrived into organised chaos, smiling the serene smile of someone who has no clue as to what is about to ensue! The next 48 hours was a blur of food mountains, wrapping, unwrapping, assembling boxes, cooking, cooking,cooking, refilling the bath with bags of ice to keep things cold, not sleeping, more cooking with every possible surface covered in food containers as we filled and filled. We both under estimated how long it takes just to fill containers. 8 per box, 70 times over. It takes friggin forever and saps your will to live ! Our delivery time was to be 12 exactly as the boat doesn't wait. The last hour went by with a speed I can only describe as purposefully cruel. I don't think either of us actually took a breath for that hour. My daughter deserves a medal for having to run up and down 4 flights of stairs with 70 boxes only able to carry 2 at a time due to their shape. She said she was seeing stars... With the van hire company letting me down at the last minute I had to take a van half the size I needed so also required a taxi van and we loaded up both. A taxi driver clearly unused to hard graft huffed and puffed his way to his tip as I sent him up and down the stairs. Unfortunately not only was I to cater for the day I was also on the guest list with my daughter. A manic, unsuccessful attempt to make myself look presentable was done in the taxi from the park and ride after we delivered. My daughter however is of the age and beauty that a simple flick of the hair turns her into a goddess. Incrediably we were only 15 mins late and arrived outwardly smiling and calm into the hands of various male guests who threw the boxes over shoulders and under arms, while I looked on in horror imagining the up turned mess once opened ! Of course the sun shone, the rain held off just long enough as we sailed up and down the Oxfordshire countryside, lots was drunk, chocolates and cakes handed out, everyone 'played' with their gifts, tears were shed by the birthday boy, a father of 5 and a good time was had by all and you and I are the only ones who really know the truth! Menu... Cajun chicken, Pork kebabs, Roasted vegetable kebabs, Pesto rice salad, Rocket and tomato salad, Vegetable quiche, Meatballs and homemade spicy tomato sauce, Mayonnaise, Mini pittas .....Fruit salad in Cointreau syrup and Chocolate cup cakes

No comments:

Post a Comment