Friday, 18 June 2010

'I am a whore...' Stephen Fry... June 17th 2010 Friends For Life Gala Dinner


My head seriously hurts... I really don't remember drinking that much champagne but I think nerves got the better of me... well, I was chatting happily to the likes of Dame Judy and Stephen Fry so it must have been working... not that I'm a wallflower you understand but it's not every day that you get invited to a star-studded gala dinner as a guest of Michelle Collins...

... have I name-dropped enough yet?

So I guess I need to apologise for the dreadful quality of the photographs... (won't even post the dessert image as it's so bad!)  I felt far too self-conscious to take the large camera along... and the dining marquee was lined with one of those fabulous star-cloths, which happened to be the only light in the room, so it was very dark... I had enough bother explaining to the Head of Drama at ITV that I was writing a food blog and needed to photograph everything, without having to pull out the Canon...

The evening started with a champagne reception in The Artillery Gardens at the HAC.  It was a glorious sunny evening and all the glamorously dressed guests soaked in the last of the evenings rays before going into the marquee for dinner.  The invitation called for 'Lounge Suits' which was so much nicer than stuffy Black Tie and everyone was more relaxed for it.  I was literally surrounded by a who's who of young and not so young British talent... everywhere you laid your gaze, your eyes would fall onto someone else from this program or someone else from that pop group... I was giggling inside for most of the evening just at the pure hilarity of my situation... oh and the champagne again.  I was even asked to have my photograph taken a few times with Michelle for the press photographers, which felt totally bizarre but rather wonderful... darling!

Michelle and I met last year whilst working on a project for Daz washing powders (long story... I'll save it for another time) but essentially we spent an intense week touring the UK together and bonded very quickly and have become firm friends.  She is always a blast to go out with as she knows simply everyone but she is a very loyal friend and always takes time to introduce you to people... and of course I get to go out to these wonderful events...

We were then asked to take our seats for dinner.  There must have been around 500 guests at the dinner and it always amazes me at these kind of events,  how the chefs manage to keep the consistency up to such a high standard, to create such mini masterpieces on the plates.


Our starter was... beetroot cured salmon with cucumber jelly and horseradish cream... the salmon was translucent in its thinness and practically dissolved on entering the mouth but it was the cucumber jelly which was the star of the plate... packed with an intense flavour of cucumber, such a clever little trick.


Main course was...  roast sirloin of beef with watercress and new potato salad, french beans and roasted garlic and watercress puree... the beef was perfectly cooked if a little bland but the burnt punch you got from the roasted garlic more than compensated for it.

We then had a break for speeches... a very moving one from a young guy with HIV who recounted his tragic but inspirational struggle to survive on the streets of London and how the Terrence Higgins Trust had saved him... and a hilarious speech from Stephen Fry, the President of the Friends for Life organisation, who proclaimed that he was 'a whore' and would do anything for our money!

Dessert was my favourite part of the meal... chilled lime souffle, lemon posset and citron sherbet.  It's a real shame the photo didn't come out because it was a true creation on a plate, with the lime souffle towering above its chocolate dish and a spoon filled with sherbet, so that your first mouthful was a blast back to childhood... delicious!

my glamorous dinner guest Michelle

Entertainment was provided by a live set by Andy Bell from Erasure... excellent fun but rather harrowing having to explain who he was to the 24 year-old Hollyoaks star sitting next to me...

so a genius night had by all (thank-you Michelle) and if that wasn't enough i have another party tomorrow night... I'm off to the wonderful Jacks restaurant opposite our flat in Queens Park to bury my hangover in a  Full English!

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