On 14 May 2016, Cambridge Eat Up! (exclamation mark intended) held its first ever Pot Luck Lunch, a fringe event for Eat Cambridge. The lovely and talented Karen Harvey had the foresight to create the Cambridge Eat Up! group on Facebook (you can read about its origins in her blog post here) and it has grown organically since then. It’s become a great virtual “meeting point” for food enthusiasts of all types (not just bloggers) to share good foodie news and plan get-togethers.
So when Eat Cambridge organiser Heidi White thought the group would be ideal for a fringe event, Karen and I jumped at the chance to create something. In the spirit of Cambridge Eat Up!, we wanted to hold an event that reflected foodies coming together, sharing and supporting each other. The result was a Pot Luck Lunch where everyone would bring a dish and we would gather around a table in an informal setting to enjoy each other’s company and good food/drink. We planned this back in December and the next thing we knew, the application was submitted, the entry fee paid (courtesy of Paulo at P A Safety Management Limited) and my home was confirmed as the location. Everyone jumped at the chance to be included and the places filled up very quickly, as soon as the Eat Cambridge programme was released. I even increased the numbers from 15 to 20 but there was still a long waiting list. However, this indicated that the pot luck format appealed to a great number of people, so the group is discussing hosting more of them.
The event also included a swap that was held in a separate Facebook group for the attendees. We created a Swap Catalogue online where people could browse through photos of unwanted food-related items for swapping (technically, it wasn’t a swap as there was no obligation to submit or even participate). I hosted the swap in April and the first person to claim “dibs” on the photos I randomly posted, got that item. All of the great stuff, such as cookbooks, food products and baking equipment, was then delivered at the Pot Luck Lunch.
Karen and I contacted companies (list at the end of this post) to see if we could get a goodie bag together for this special event, as well as have others contribute to the food and drink offering on the day. We came up trumps! Attendees took home bags teeming with fabulous items and were given a detailed list of supporters so they could share their discoveries through social media and word of mouth. A massive thank you to everyone who contributed!
I would also like to thank Paola and her husband Jerry for bringing over tables, chairs, cutlery, glasses, plates, cups, saucers, mugs, carafes, tablecloths, teapots, etc. I couldn’t have set it all up so beautifully in my garden without these items. Naomi provided three tables that Paola went to pick up in her van. Naomi also provided lifts to the event and so did Jin. Paulo and Jerry helped look after the guests that day, when I was busy running around and chatting to everyone. So a great team effort all around!
And of course, I’d like to thank all the attendees who took time out of their busy schedules to prepare their dishes and for being such lovely guests in my home. So now, on to the star of the show… the amazing food and drink!
Alison (of Ali’s Baltic Bakes) brought her specialty: pīrāgi (little yeast dough pies). They were passed around for guests to nibble on while we finished setting up the table. Her delicious bite-sized pīrāgi included Mushroom in Sour Cream with Dill & Wobbly Bottom Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Onion.
Helen (of White Cottage Bakery) arrived with baskets of homemade bread. Mini fougasse (one with gouda), 7-seed rye sourdough and various épis de blé, including gouda & cumin, 8-seed, red onion & gruyère and wild garlic pesto… we were really spoiled!
I had planned to make Insalata Caprese but it just never happened. However, I did serve Bim’s Kitchen amazing nut butters on toasted bagels (African Baobab & Peanut Butter and African Tigernut, Coconut & Cashew Butter).
The fabulous folks at Gin Explorer sent a sample of their monthly subscription box (more details at the end of the post) which, among other goodies, included four small bottles of gin and some tonic water. The box looked like a vintage suitcase and everyone admired the contents. It seemed almost a shame to remove the nicely arranged items but that didn’t stop Paulo from offering people G&Ts!
It was the first time the majority of the attendees tried Thor sparkling apple soft drinks and they went over rather well! We had all three flavours to choose from: Mint (natural apple flavour and sparkling water with mint and peppermint), Apple (apple juice with sparkling water, green tea and gentian extracts) and Ginger (apple juice, sparkling water and natural ginger flavour).
The list of yummy dishes continued with Aoife’s Broccoli, Tomato, Feta & Hazelnut Salad and Kelly’s Spinach Puff Pastry Rolls with Feta & Ricotta, plus a Rocket & Beetroot salad (with rocket from her very own garden). Kelly also brought along a bottle of The Foraging Fox’s Beetroot Ketchup as it really is good with everything. Fellow Canadian Lisa prepared a North American speciality, a huge Cobb Salad with rows of chicken, eggs, tomatoes, avocado and bacon on a bed of leafy greens. Michelle made use of seasonal Jersey Royals and brought Potato Salad with Rocket & Fennel (with wholegrain mustard dressing). Plus, her gorgeous Dark Chocolate Bark with Quinoa, Raspberry & Pistachio was a big hit!
Deepa made spicy Gujarati Dhokra (cakes with semolina, ginger and chilli). Jess made addictive little Cheese Scones as well as Falafel with dip. Nazima’s mild Chickpea & Potato Curry was beautiful and tasty. Ozzy prepared a German specialty: Frikadellen (lamb mince with onion and garlic) served with a garlic, chive and mint dip. Gina’s (of Apricot & Fig) Chilli & Fennel Crackers (with gruyère) were definitely moreish. She also baked a delicious Rhubarb & Amaretti Cake with Orange & Rosemary Glaze.
Breckland Orchard kindly provided their fabulous sparkling soft drinks. A firm favourite in these parts, their Posh Pop (Plum & Cherry and Ginger Beer with Chilli) was a refreshing addition to the event.
Sue used her home grown rhubarb to make Rhubarb Snow with blewit flowers & Edward’s Cordial (rhubarb & lavender). Her rhubarb theme continued with a Rhubarb Fool with mace & cinnamon, made to an adapted 18th century recipe!
Lyndsey (of Vera’s Gin Club) got everyone hooked on her Melting Moments (Raspberry & Rose and Lemon) and Rosemary & Parmesan Madeleines. Karen baked amazing custard tarts and everyone wanted the recipe!
Katt made a cute Dropped Ice Cream Cake and Stella’s Dulce de Leche was deliciously decadent. Naomi pulled double duty with two crostatas (Italian jam tarts): one with blackcurrant jam from Mr & Mrs Miggins and another with her mother-in-law’s loganberry jam.
Jin (winner of the 2015 Cambridge Bake Off) brought a taste of Malaysia with his stunning, light-as-air Strawberry Swiss Roll. His Pandan & Black Sesame Hokkaido Cupcakes with chiffon sponge were simply spectacular.
Of course, we couldn’t finish off the meal without tea and coffee and these were graciously provided by The Kandula Tea Company and The Coffee Officina. Kandula’s English Breakfast Ceylon Tea, grown in the heart of Sri Lanka, couldn’t be served fast enough, as pots of it were being consumed before we could finish boiling fresh water for more.
The Coffee Officina, a small batch coffee roastery in Essex providing ethically sourced and hand roasted coffee, sent us their new San Ernesto El Salvador single origin, which garnered much praise from the coffee lovers. I requested whole beans which were ground on demand for a fresh cup of coffee.
More tantalising food photos by Ozzy Beck can be viewed here.
As it was a special event for Eat Cambridge, we gave out goodie bags to all of the attendees who worked so hard to prepare their dishes for the Pot Luck Lunch. In the spirit of sharing good foodie news, they were encouraged to give a “shout out” on social media and/or their blogs. A whopping 22 businesses generously provided some fantastic items for the goodie bags, with another 7 supplying food and drinks for the lunch! Karen and I would like to thank the following Cambridge Eat Up! supporters, specifically selected for their fantastic products:
Agrumia: I Tesorini tarallini, ring-shaped Italian snacks in various flavours, such as Garlic, Olive Oil & Chilli, Potato & Rosemary, Traditional with Olive Oil and Onion & Olive.
Apricot & Fig: Mini biscotti with dried apricots, dried figs and pistachios.
Bim’s Kitchen: African-inspired jams and relishes – African Baobab Chilli Jam and African Tomato and Tigernut Relish.
BOL Foods: Their ready meals were freshly delivered to my house that morning – a selection of Sri Lankan Lentil Sambar, Mexican Sweet Potato Chilli, Thai Coconut Curry and Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
Canesmith & Co: A selection of gourmet sweets such as caramels and sherbet dippers.
Capsicana: Latin American cook sauces – Chilli & Garlic (Mexican) and Chilli & Coconut (Brazilian).
Curry With Love: Lentils With Garlic & Chilli authentic curry kits.
Dulcedo Patisserie: Dragée (bite-sized, colourful confectionery with a hard outer shell) in a variety of flavours – Blueberry and Cranberry (Triple Chocolate & Beetroot), Java Coffee Beans (Milk Chocolate & Cinnamon Latte), Brazil Nuts (Banana & Toasted Coconut) and Almonds (Hibiscus & White Chocolate).
Glorious Soup: Voucher for 1 free soup.
Graze: Snacks such as Punchy Protein Nuts (chilli & lime cashews, almonds & lightly salted peanuts) and Lemon Drizzle Flapjack.
Hibiscus Lily: Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade, winner of the 2015 Silver Chutney Awards.
The Kandula Tea Company: Spiced Mango Green Tea, an infusion of cardamom and lemon peel blended with mango.
Luchito: Smoked Chilli Mayo and canvas bags.
Naomi Davies Art: Greeting cards.
Olive Branch: Orange Biskotakia, gluten free sweet biscuits baked with olive oil.
Relevant Record Cafe: Tote bags and loyalty cards.
Romano’s Kitchen: Little pork pies with smoked bacon and cranberry stuffing.
The Tiger Nut Company: Premium Peeled Tiger Nuts and Organic Cacao Dusted Tiger Nuts.
Willie’s Cacao: A selection of chocolate – Venezuelan Gold, Ginger Lime, Luscious Orange and Milk of the Gods.
These generous companies supplied food and drinks for us to enjoy at the Pot Luck Lunch:
Bim’s Kitchen: Nut butters (African Baobab & Peanut Butter and African Tigernut, Coconut & Cashew Butter).
Breckland Orchard: Sparkling soft drinks (Posh Pop) – Plum & Cherry and Ginger Beer with Chilli.
The Coffee Officina: San Ernesto El Salvador single origin coffee.
Gin Explorer: Sample of a monthly subscription box with 4 small bottles of gin (6 O’clock, Ish London Dry Gin, Zymurgorium’s Manchester Gin and Little Scarlet Strawberry Gin Liqueur), 1724 Tonic Water from Peru’s Inca Trail, Infugintonic “teabag” (with lemon pieces and juniper), sweeties and Wilkin & Sons Orange Marmalade to make a Breakfast Martini.
The Kandula Tea Company: English Breakfast Ceylon Tea.
Thor: Sparkling apple soft drinks in Ginger, Mint and Apple.
White Cottage Bakery: A variety of freshly baked loaves, including French épis to tear and share.
What an event, what a day! It couldn’t have been more perfect (even Mother Nature cooperated). Food has such a great way of bringing people together. There was a lot of organisation and planning involved but the best part is that everyone collaborated, shared and supported each other. This is the true spirit of Cambridge Eat Up!
Although I was the one of the organisers of the event held in my home and my company paid the Eat Cambridge entry free for the fringe event, all views are my own. All food and drink were complimentary as everyone brought their own. I did not receive compensation for this post from any of the companies supporting this event.
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