April: feasting through Spring

A bit like London buses all come at once, April’s been busy with 3 Clapton Pot-related dinner invitations: first there was Rino’s pizza night in Maida Vale. Rino was one of our first Clapton Pot guests (in January), and having announced he was originally from Naples, it was collectively decided he should bake pizza for everyone at his soon. It was a fun and delicious dinner – although whether pizza was invented in Naples or not remains a mystery to me.

Then Hassan, who attended our March Clapton Pot, put us in touch with Katie from Eventbrite, who was inviting a number of supper clubs to a dinner prepared by chef Luis Hara, aka The London Foodie, in his beautiful Islington home. We were treated to an outstanding meal, and found ourselves rubbing shoulders with some pretty well-known people on the supper-club circuit, not least the lovely Alicia, who runs the Parkholme Supper Club in support of Médecins Sans Frontières.

This in turn led us to attend the next Latitudinal Cuisine night hosted by Alicia – I have wanted to go to Lat Cuisine for years, and was glad to finally meet its creator Alex Haw, whose work as an architect I had come across a few years ago. And funnily enough, Diana had spoken to Alex’s partner Sinead at other social events before. More lovely people were met that night, and some vague plans made to meet again soon.

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We rounded this off with our very own April Clapton Pot, and once again it turned out to be a great night with yet another batch of fantastic guests! Joining us were Patrick, a media journalist, and Eleanor, my long-time local friend and owner of the excellent indie bookshop Pages of Hackney, the lovely Sahar and David, who are both photographers and very kindly jumped on the occasion to say they’d like to invite us for dinner at theirs soon, and serious foodies Kerrie and Felix, who I believe came to us via Doreen (Clapton Pot in March), and run Edible Feasts in Walthamstow.

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It’s possible we may have completely blown our budget for this one – not least with our purchase of ground pistachios, which turned out to be a bit of a rarity! We found ourselves following the man at TFC to the bakery counter at the back of the shop, and watch him enter an intriguing conversation with the lady working there, who seemed to speak no English at all. Who needs holidays when your shopping trips are so… enigmatic!? Personally, I couldn’t help but feel it might be easier to find out where to buy crack…

This month’s menu was a meze fest:

– Somerset Dip: a Butternut Squash and tahini spread drizzled with date syrup and black and white sesame seeds, accompanied by homemade bread. So-called because it’s inspired by a meal prepared by Louise in the Quantock Hills last month, from an Ottolenghi recipe (and personal big up to Lou, the most accomplished and adventurous home cook I know, who’s just made the most delicious and good-looking 7+ course meal for 80 guests at her husband’s 40th birthday bash).

– an army of dolmas (this turned out to be pretty labour-intensive!)

– slow-cooked tomato and aubergine dish, served with a bulgur tabouleh

– falafels, made from chef Adrian’s recipe

– tomato and cucumber salsa

– and for a dessert, pistachio and coconut milk ice-cream, served with (pistachio again) bacclavas, very kindly gifted by Patrick, who we think may be a bit of a clairvoyant since we had originally intended to make some!

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Both Diana and I had reservations about the ice cream, despite the gorgeous Spring-like colour, so it looks like we’re going to have to perfect our recipe… But everything else worked well and was worth the extra hours spent cooking.

From the feedback we’re getting from past guests and emails received about how to join us in the future, it’s apparent we’ve created something special. It’s a pleasure cooking for and a meeting such delightful and interesting people, and we’re always happy making plans to meet again in the not-so-distant future. Do stay in touch, Clapton Pot peeps!

Enjoy the sunny days
Violaine -& Diana

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