The chef gently cradles the fuzzy purple sphere, as if presenting his first born. He beams at us.
“It’s a peach” he explains, before slicing it open to reveal the juicy indigo flesh that bleeds softly into a pale white heart. We’ve just had one of the most spectacular lunches in the history of ever and now 30 year old head chef Brett Graham is introducing us to his tiny kitchen. He bounds into the back room and proudly pulls out a tray of green leaves from beneath a sodium lamp. I stare at him.
“Don’t worry, it’s not weed” he laughs. “These are my herbs”.
A fresh email plops into the inbox. You are invited to a tequila lunch with Mark Hix on Thursday it casually says. I re-read it a few times. The words “Hix” “lunch” and “tequila” reverberate in my nosh-addled mind like strobe lighting. I call my mates, but this is no wind up. Apparently there is a God. I feel awash with happiness, like I’ve won the culinary lottery.
It’s an Inspirit Brands event and strolling through the City sunshine to the Oyster and Chop House, even the suits emit thin-lipped smiles at one another, like vicious little paper cuts. It’s one of those days when you fall all over in love again with this skanky old town. It’s one of those days, when all you want to do is stand outside and drink chilled lemon verbena cocktails mixed by a world champion bartender, the citrusy leaves plucked fresh from his garden that morning. Which is precisely what we do.
I try not to gawp at Cleo Rocos wobbling exotically around on her crutches like the ornithological walking wounded (she’s suffering from a brutally agonising knee injury, but laughs and jokes throughout our lunch). I’m introduced to Sam Galsworthy of Sipsmith, Alice Lascelles of Imbibe Magazine, Stuart Ekins of Inspirit Brands, Peter Prescott and Nick Strangeway amongst others. They ask me what I do. I feel vaguely embarrassed – not everyone gets blogging. I have another cocktail, it slips down dangerously easily with its non-alcoholic tang, every little gulpful a fizz of lemon sherbet. They’re all so warm and it’s so luxuriously hot I feel relaxed and as if I’m amongst friends, rather than feeling like the unexpected item in the bagging area.
I’ve written up the lowdown on yesterday’s antics at the UKFBA food stall. Once again, those lovely folk at Channel 4 food have published it here:
I whined a lot about being tired the next day, but emails like the one below made it all seem so worthwhile:
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 17:55:47 +0100
A huge thank you to Sig for being such a fantastic fellow trades-woman and to everyone who came down to see us!
As part of the run up to the food stall I’ll be running tomorrow in Covent Garden, I’ve written a piece on my frenzied preparations.
Channel 4 food published it here: