What do you think of when someone describes themselves as a blogger?
Do you think, “ooh they must be really interesting, really good at writing and have trustworthy, respectable opinions”, or something along those lines?
Or do you think, “oh not another blagging bullshitter, desperately craving freebies in exchange for good reviews, probably with blonde hair extensions and a short skirt”, or something along those lines?
Just in case you are about as well informed on the blogging “industry” as the average magic money tree believer (ie Labour voter) is on the works of Arthur Laffer, I can confirm that the latter is closer to the truth.
Damn, was going to share something special with you to reinforce my point but it’s been deleted from Twitter. Erm, I’ll just post something about Brexit instead.
WILL OF THE PEOPLE.
Anyway, I want to be the former, and not only because I am too fat for a short skirt (although I did go to Brighton the other day for the first time ever, and within 3 hours I was wearing a dress). But also because I have self-respect…actually no fuck that, I am a tosser. But I do want to have a blog that you can trust.
So when someone offered me a free roast dinner, I initially felt a bit conflicted. And someone I liked too – in a not met her, but seems like a really nice person from her Twitter posts kind of way.
Yeah, someone seems nice on Twitter…weird.
I wrestled my conscience for roughly the time it took for my morning poo, and accepted. After all, I hadn’t written a pathetic begging letter. And I have spent over £1,000 on roast dinners since I started this blog. You can double that if you include drinks and tubes. All for you dear reader. Just think, that’s almost enough for a house deposit in London, I think?
So please do bear in mind that this was free. Not only that but I was in her kitchen, and eating the roast dinner with her. Feel free to take my score and any effusiveness with as much salt as you like…possibly 10 times as much salt as normal (in-joke – sorry). Let’s face it, even a Tory like myself would find it bloody difficult to write a bad review in such circumstances…were one appropriate.
I guess I should introduce my host.
The invitation came from Dessert Deli (that I cannot help but pronounce Desert Deli), arguably London’s favourite cake and dessert supplier – well I’m arguing that anyway – and if you don’t believe me, then just have a look at some of this cake porn:
She also does occasional Sunday roasts in her kitchen in Clapham. Set in a small industrial/business estate not too far away from Clapham Junction, we went through the security gates, then walked through 1960’s school corridors, following the signs (though we could have smelled our way there) and reaching a kitchen.
The kitchen is like an Alladin’s Cave of cake ingredients and decorations, with two perpendicular tables in the middle sitting around 12 people in total, with stools to perch our backsides. At the far end were industrial ovens, with a walk-in fridge to one side to store our beer. A beautiful walk-in fridge…hmmmmm.
Tickets are normally £25.00 – which is more expensive than most roast dinners, but that includes dessert, soft drinks and it was BYOB. Which after a season of going to Manumission in the late 1990’s I assumed until recently-corrected that it meant bite your own bollocks. Actually that’s a lie. I only went to Manumission once. It was shit. Everyone was just stood around waiting for the sex show like gawping teenagers. Including myself as I was a teenager. The music was shit, but I did get to watch a dwarf blow himself off. Worth the 2,500,000 peseta entry in itself. The point of the story being, BYOB actually means bring your own booze, which saved me a few quid.
If you are interested then I’m afraid that you are going to have to wait until autumn for the next one, as it does get a bit warm in the kitchen. However, you can sign up to the mailing list, or go and have breakfast/cakes Monday to Friday, or go to her stall on Saturdays. Hmmmm mailing list.
One of the delights of the experience was having the opportunity to have dinner with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, from various walks of like – a wine importer, an Olympic boxing trainer, a curtain-maker, a member of the Windrush generation (check me out, lefties)…even public sector workers.
After a period of socialising and watching our host prepare, dinner was laid out on a kitchen table, and we were ushered with our plates to help ourselves to what was proportionally a feast (though my fellow northerner used a large bowl instead – clever).
None of this “3 roast potatoes for you, just 3 roast potatoes for you and only 3 roast potatoes for you”, malarky. I could have as much as I wanted of everything.
I was in a non sex and drugs version of heaven.
Starting with the carrots, which were sublime. Roasted to perfection, with a strong buttery taste and a hint of chives…these were as good as you can get.
The green beans were of the long, stringy variety – they squeaked a fair amount, a tad too squeaky for my personal tastes but they were good.
There was another helping of vegetables but for some reason I didn’t try it. Quite possibly because there were 4 types of meat available and I probably didn’t want to ruin my appetite (which doesn’t explain why I had a sausage roll beforehand) – I cannot even remember what it was…a swede and kale medley? I’m just guessing from the photograph. I should probably delete this paragraph.
So, with all of this food porn, did I manage to get a crispy roast potato? Not quite. The potatoes themselves had a good, earthly feel about them – they seemed similar to what my dad used to grow on his allotment many years ago. Soft inside – not fluffy, and I only found one crispy edge out of the ones I picked. One even tasted a bit charcoally – probably because I was trying to find the crispiest. Good potatoes, not great global potatoes sponsored by David Davis.
The Yorkshire puddings were medium-sized, soft with slightly crispy edges – some had risen quite nicely, others a little flatter, but they were solidly decent yorkies.
As there were 4 differing meats on offer and I am a man (don’t look at me like that), I had all 4 meats. Whilst this seemed a great idea at the time, now I’m having to write about it…I’m not quite so convinced.
Thinking about it, I reckon I would be doing a disservice to try to describe them all.
You ain’t buying that are you? Look, I’m ill, I’ve got the plague, I can vaguely remember. The lamb was just simply a very nicely cooked, earthy joint of lamb, the beef was tasty – cooked rare, perhaps verging on medium-rare. I haven’t got any better words. IT WOZ GUD.
The pork was even better, though arguably not as succulent as the lamb or beef (I’m kind of pulling at straws here…don’t worry Londoners, paper straws) – it had a fairly perfect taste to it, the juice of the fat ingrained into the meat. And the crackling was spot-on, crunchy, crispy yet perfectly edible.
My favourite was the corn-fed chicken. These were large half-chickens, or possibly just extremely large chicken breast quarters, all with that yellow-colouring that comes from chickens smoking so many cigarettes and possibly eating corn too. I tried to get the smallest half and it was just so plump, so tasty – outdoing all other types of meat.
You would expect the gravy to be up to scratch, wouldn’t you? And the taste was, a nice, hearty meat-stock influenced gravy. But it was too thin for my preferences – guess that’s what you get when a southerner cooks you a roast dinner. At least there was plenty – though I was so nervous carrying a wobbly near-bucketload of the stuff back to the table. Yeah of course I was the first one that needed more gravy.
You would also expect that I enjoyed that. So much that I not only went back for a second round, but also took some leftovers home.
It was all at least good. Mostly very good, occasionally excellent – such as the gorgeous buttered carrots, and the quite sensational corn-fed chicken. The roast potatoes could have been crispier, the yorkies were “just” decent.
If I was rating on the whole restaurant experience, the vibe, the welcome, the people, the service, the desserts…oh my the desserts, then this would be a 9. But I am just scoring on the roast dinner itself…well almost…the surrounding parts do have fractional influence on the score.
I’m scoring it an 8.43 out of 10. Which as things stand makes it the 4th best roast dinner out of 60 reviewed so far. Of course, feel free to disregard my score on the basis that I didn’t pay for it.
Did I mention that we also had dessert thrown in? There was a wide variety of desserts to choose from – for some bizarre reason I went for the chocolate mousse with honeycomb, despite not particularly being keen on honeycomb nor mousse – the mousse dissolved in my mouth, it was that good. The blueberry and lemon cheesecake was just sensational. Both of them were. And the ones I took home along with a panna cotta that has gone overboard. “Darling, panna cotta overboard”, as we say in Hull.
The food may have been special, but one of the main positives that I am going to take away from this is the enjoyment of meeting new people, and finding out their perspective on things – it is very easy to stay within one’s own social bubble, and not meet people from differing walks of life and differing perspectives on things. Everyone agreed with me on Brexit, of course. Or at least ignored me.
It’ll probably have to wait until I am a bit more popular (or wear a short skirt), but one thing I’d like to do one time is organise a roast dinner for readers and randoms.
Next weekend I am in Vienna, so unless my teleportation device starts working, you’ll have to wait a week for the next one.