Sunday 5 October 2014

A social affair, with olives

What's better than a good catch up with friends, delicious food and an unlimited supply of wine? Very little! And that's exactly what fun and games I got up to this week courtesy of my friend Jem.

Jem runs Iced Jems, a mouthwatering baking business, (name clicks into place now right) so when she invited me to an Olive_UK foodie event at Food at 52, I jumped at the chance. Especially as the night was hosted by Spanish chef Jose Pizarro and Spanish cuisine is probably my most favourite of them all. The only catch - it was all around olives, obviously.

José even has his own brand of paprika and it was good!
Now, I am no olive hater, far from it, I think that cooking with olives can change the flavour of a dish from something bland to be more vibrant and appetising, but I am not a fan of cold olives. No idea why - I think it's something to do with the marinade they sit in, but I went into it with my eyes open and my stomach hungry ready to tackle the evening. 

We arrived around 6ish. Food at 52 is about a 10 min walk from Old Street station and settled down with a glass of wine for me and Sherry for Jem (she claims wine gives her hiccups) and got chatting to some of the other girls before being taken downstairs to don our aprons and get cooking. 

I almost squealed with excitement when José told us we would be cooking with chorizo for one dish and monkfish for another. We were asked to get into groups of four and set about dicing and slicing the chicken, onion and garlic, before we got down to the good stuff. 

We browned off the chicken and removed it from the pan and added some sugar to the pan before adding in a generous glug (or three) of balsamic vinegar and reducing down to a sticky glaze-like texture. 

Then we added in the onions, black olives, red wine and passata before adding in the chorizo and returning the chicken, tasting and spicing with paprika and pepper before we got to settle down and enjoy our soupy chicken and chorizo stew - with a good slab of bread to mop up all the juices. Delicioso.

We also got to cook monkfish. Buttlerflying the fillets and stuffing them with garlic and olives before wrapping them in parma ham. I can safely say I learnt how to tie the special chef knots that keep the food together properly.

You tie the once as normal, then feed through the ends again before tying the knot - who knew? Don't answer that - I guess a lot of people may do. But chef José I vow from now on I'm doing away with my old method of stabbing it with  tooth picks to keep it closed. 

The night was such a social affair and Jem and I got loads of time to gossip amongst ourselves as well as meeting some great new girls - Becky and Sophie were fab cookery partners - in fact if it hadn't have been for Becky, the chicken and chorizo stew wouldn't of tasted anywhere near as good. And the cookery school itself was awesome. 

I can't actually remember the last time I set foot in a cookery school to cook myself, I think it may have been when I was a child, sent off with a friend to learn how to make cheesecakes by my mum and her friend (we cooked whilst they drank the wine in peace no doubt). But that must be going on 15 years ago now. So thank you Food at 52 for being such a great little spot to dip my toe in again. With your relaxed and homely atmosphere you were the perfect backdrop to a fab evening!

Apologies for not having the recipes for you guys - I do have them in the recipe book given and will get round to giving them a proper go at home, but perhaps I may venture over to Jose's tapas bar first. 

Tash from Food at 52 and Jose

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