Last weekend I was involved in the cooking for a secret dinner. I love the idea. Secrets are exciting. Okay, so the concept was as follows. All the attendees to the Spier Secret Festival and Conference were invited to attend a secret dinner on the Saturday night. A few hours before dinner they received the information of where and with whom they would dine.
There were sixteen different hosts with groups of varying sizes depending on what they had committed to. The group of hosts were chosen from all walks of life; chefs, cooks, bakers, farmers, designers, you name it. Naturally all having style and a passion for food. Free reign was given with menus, themes, locations and creative concept which is both daunting and dream come true.
Retha Erichsen was the host of the dinner I cooked for and our collaboration came together due to the fact that Retha rents our old family home from my parents. She has forged a lovely friendship with our family and truly gets the space and the energy of the house.
She thought that hosting a nostalgic evening there, with our family and food cooked by us with local ingredients, would truly honor the space and allow it to come alive for the guests attending. I agreed!
She added decor touches around the house and garden.
Many of the pots, vases, furnishings and bits and bobs (even pets) are still from our family and interwoven with Retha's impeccable taste and style; it goes from old fashioned hodge podge to retro chic.
The welcome drink was Retha's idea and made with germanium cordial from Babylonstoren and Primitiv Vodka. Each glass had a dollop of a mint paste at the bottom and was topped off with fresh strawberries for a touch of summer.
While guests gathered and got in the mood, I had prepared a simple spread of crudites and dips and Retha had ordered a massive Potbrood baked by the team at De Oude Bank Bakkerij. The dips were my basil pesto; aubergine and sun-dried tomato pesto and hummus. Quite frankly this could have been a meal in itself. I love eating snacky food and often entertain this way at home.
Before starters were served, Retha welcomed the group of 25 guests and introduced them to the home, the concept and to me.
There was no way of getting around serving artichokes. They are a passion of mine and the way my mother cooks them is in my opinion the only way they should ever be cooked.
The second starer was a slight variation on my Asian salmon salad. I made it with rainbow trout from the hatchery in Jonkershoek. Trout has always been a special occasion meal for us and this salad is just amazing. The guests seemed to agree!
The main course was slow braised rolled shoulder of lamb, hoison duck, roast veg rice pilaf, a salad of marinated mozzarella, peaches and roasted fresh chilli and a simple mixed salad.
There was such a great vibe around the table while guests dished up their main course.
Because I was cooking and mingling with the guests as much as I could, I asked my cousin (of anysroad blog) and step Dad (of Blogs from Betty's) to take photos. I can only assume that they were having so much fun at that stage that neither managed to snap a shot of the desserts! I have photos from past occasions of them and will be sure to blog about them later this week. To my total surprise the rice pudding with berry compote seemed to be the dessert hit. My personal favorite was the hazelnut and apple torte with koeksister ice cream. But Mrs. Moxon's lemon posset had to be on the menu simply because it is such an old favorite in our family. And I just loving saying that name...
I have seldom cooked at an event that was as seamless. Everything just fell into place perfectly ensuring that there was no stress, leaving us to enjoy the evening with our guests.