karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
[personal profile] karohemd
So last night was the foodie night of my life (and one that's unlikely to be repeated). I went to the Kai We Care charity dinner in aid of the victims of the New Zealand earthquakes. Thought up and organised by Mat Follas, Masterchef 2009 winner and owner/head chef of The Wild Garlic. By the power of twitter and other social networking alone, he managed to recruit a brigade of top chefs (five with Michelin stars, all of them with various awards), suppliers and FOH staff who all gave their time and wares for free to stage a 9-course dinner for 200(!) people. Considering they only had four weeks and the event went on with barely a glitch, that was an amazing achievement.
So far, they managed to raise £60,000 (tickets and auction) with most likely more to come.

At £150 a ticket, this wasn't exactly cheap but where can you get a 9-course dinner with matching wines with each course cooked by a group of top chefs? Nowhere. You'd pay at least that much for a normal tasting menu at a high class restaurant in London and then you'd get only one chef. As I was looking for a birthday treat to myself, this was perfect and I wasn't disappointed.

At the reception at the rather splendid venue of 1 Moorgate Place there was kiwi champagne (which I actually liked!) and canapees: cured salmon/cucumber "fruit pastilles" (sweet/savoury, very fresh), port and Spenwood pencil (also nice) and the highlight, Pork crackling toffee apple (basically a ball of apple coated in a crunchy but not too sweet crumb, fantastic). No photos of these because the reception was cramped and it would have been a bit awkward. I'll pass on links to the official photos when they're out.

Then into the main hall with large, round tables, seating 9 people each. On my table were a group of Irish people (who all knew Dave Ahern) and a couple from Essex. Was quite a friendly table.

Kai We Care - Pre starter Kai We Care - Starter Kai We Care - Fish Kai We Care - Main Kai We Care - Pre-Dessert Kai We Care - Dessert



(click on the photo for the flickr page with the full title of the dish or check the menu link on the website linked above)
When we arrived, the pre-starter was already on the table:

Kai We Care - Pre starter
a great variety of beetroot, the little parcels were stuffed with cream cheese. A nice little amuse bouche.

Kai We Care - Starter
This starter was actually quite big. The scotch egg had a perfectly runny egg in the middle while the meat was perfectly cooked. Stunning skills involved there. The pie was really rich with strong game and truffle flavours. One of my favourites of the evening (and the first time I had something with truffles). The white wine that was served with it was perfect as it cut right through that richness.

Kai We Care - Fish
This was, surprisingly, a cold dish (although the salsa should have been a giveaway). Again, wonderful flavours and textures.

Kai We Care - Main
Then I was on home turf: Mark Poynton's slow cooked lamb (the one [personal profile] robinbloke had last Monday). The meat was soft as anything and the accompaniments were a perfect match. Another overall favourite.

Then a bit of molecular gastronomy as pre-dessert:
Kai We Care - Pre-Dessert
Eggs that weren't eggs with soldiers that weren't soldiers and a little bit of smoke. A bit of a gimmick, really, as the flavours weren't really interesting or strong. Top marks for presentation, though. (there are a few more pics on flickr)

Kai We Care - Dessert
Nommy chocolate cake and outstanding ice cream. The burnt orange syrup was fantastic and this was the first choc/orange combination I liked.

I'm sad to say that the cheese was a bit disappointing. With the exception of the goats cheese pannacotta (remarkable, I could have eaten the whole bowl), it hadn't been well kept and some bits could have been riper. I guess this was due to the speed the event had been set up. A nice variety, though, and I'd love to try the others in proper condition.

Finally there were petit fours (which I didn't take a photo of, I don't know why!), excellent macarons and that salted dulce de leche truffle was fantastic! Excellent end to a fine meal.

Wine list (many thanks to Ed Francis from The Engineer)

Canapes

NV Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee

Marlborough

(Delegats Wine Estate)


Pre-starter

2008 Framingham Estate Classic Riesling

Marlborough

(Les Caves des Pyrene)


Starter

2009 Trinity Hill Viognier

Hawkes Bay

(Enotria World Wine)


Intermediate

2009 Dog Point Sauvignon blanc

Marlborough

(Fields, Morris and Verdin)


Main Course

2008 Vintage Hawksburn Pinot Noir

Central Otago

(Bibendum)


Pre-dessert

2008 Spy Valley Gewurztraminer

Marlborough (Bibendum)


Dessert

NV Lindauer Special Reserve

(Bibendum)


Cheese

2008 Vintage Ata Rangi Chardonnay

Martinborough

(Liberty Wines)





There was also entertainment in the form of a Maori dance group who performed a variety of dances and songs, very interesting and also amusing.

Throughout the evening the auction was held and raised a huge amount of money, with most lots going for well over a grand, some for multiples. I held my own for a while on the bid on the tasting menu for four with wines at Alimentum but it got too rich for me quite quickly. I think it went for 750 or 800 at the end.

By the time I had finished the petit fours, it was already well past 11 so I said good-bye and made my way back to Kings Cross where my train was already waiting. I was finally home at about 1:40.

It was a stunning evening and a great success for a worthwhile cause. Would go again in a heartbeat. Being in the presence of so many high class chefs, who all seemed to be really nice people and not as stuck up as you'd expect them to be, was fantastic.
I'm glad I'd taken the 50mm f1.4 because the light was very dim so I still had to set the D700 to ISO3200 for the food shots. Therefore, the DOF is a bit too shallow but I have to live with that. I hope Richard Budd had a proper setup somewhere.
ETA: Richard Budd's superb photos are here (mostly food and chefs/kitchen and performers) and even more photos by Philippa Edge here.

Date: 25/4/11 08:21 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wssn't it an amazing achievement by Mat Follas, Dave Aherne and a core team of organisers who worked their bollox off to bring it together. So impressive, especially in the time frame.

There are some photos of the canapes in my flickr set, you're welcome to use one as long as credit is noted.

Date: 25/4/11 08:21 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oops!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kavey/with/5621657339/

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