Saturday, October 30, 2010

If I'd Known You Were Coming...

…I’d’ve baked a cake.

Tonight, we went to the Treasury “Crate & Plate” competition – participants are asked to provide either a home-brewed beer (the “crate”) or home-baked food (the “plate”). The set up was for up to 50 people to judge the entries, made up of (i) the 20 participants  in the 3 categories (beer, non-beer drinks, food); (ii) around 30 other judges who bought a judging ticket for $10; and (iii) other folk who could buy home-brewed beer for a nominal $1, and also all the usual refreshments provided by the Kai In The Sky staff canteen on the 14th floor of the Treasury building.

As well as the food provided by the contestants, there were also other nibbles  dips, cheese and nuts provided from the sale of tickets.

We entered one of my cakes, a Yorkshire Parkin from this recipe. As judges, Nicola and I got a free taste of two beers each. Unsurprisingly, Nicola left the majority of the  beer tasting to me (she wrote “tastes ’orrible” in the comments box for all of them). Most of the contestants had opted for a lager-style beer, but one had gone for a wheat beer and another for an oatmeal stout. In the non-beer drink category there were two ginger beers, and one limoncello. In the food category that we entered, there were two chocolate-chip cookie entrants, a lemon meringue pie and a gingerbread man; and some savoury baked dishes – chicken curry vol-au-vents, pastry pies, and marmalade and cheese melba toasts.

We tasted, we drank, we judged. I attempted to sell my cake as an “Olde Family Recipe”, but admitted to anyone who asked that it was, in fact, someone else’s family. We chatted to various folk, about their products, and we talked of cabbages and kings. I seem to recall there was discussion of “dehydrated wine” at one point – handy for taking camping, on picnics etc; just add water!

Finally, the judging papers were handed in, the points totalled, and prizes awarded. I think that there was some Eurovision-style block voting going on between certain rivalrous factions and departments within the Treasury. That’s my reasoning for failing to win anything, at any rate, because clearly my cake was the bestest thing there! Nicola agrees with me so it must be true.


  1. You can't usually go wrong with Parkin. But even in our family we buy it - well, if we can get it from Lily's in Sheffield. Otherwise we do without.

    I'm not sure about the dehydrated wine though - bleurch.

  2. Thanks for the recipe - I've never made Parkin before - it just sounded too Northern (apologies to other followers) and grim, but it's no doubt lovely. Will try it on t'kids.
    I went out to lunch yesterday with Juliet to Cafe Mauresque - a Morrocan joint in Canterbury. Guess where it's situated ? Sweeney Todd's ! It looks rather different and surprisingly is not full of school kids smoking Camel Lights and sharing a cup of coffee. The food was delish and I chatted to the owner who told me he, too, was a denizen of Sweeney's in the mid-80s but as the washer-upper. And now he owns it. See what can happen in a mere 25 years? He also knew Alison Laming (she worked there as a Manageress for a while, did she not ?).
    Also having lunch was Jan Leeming - but I didn't work her table - it didn't seem seemly. Although she'd probably have appreciated the recognition and I have met her a few times - our Christmas party, f'r'instance. Anyhoo.
    Keep on cookin'.
    Pip pip, H x

  3. After our telephone chat I investigated your weather screen and very impressive it is. Crate and Bake is a good idea to socialise, can't think of a UK equivalent, perhaps the WI annual meeting. It is the Wilsher's turn to organise the next Posh Nosh. Peoples' calendars are becoming full so don't know how many of our 16 members will be free. Sysons are back in Barbados and P and G are visiting Matthew. We are going to a newish restaurant in Deal, The Court Yard. The menu is impressive and the management friendly. Will let you know the result and will include the menu if I can discover how to do the 'magic' of including a website in my prose. I'll ask Heide.

    Cut the grass and at the same time 'hoovered up' up a lot of the fallen leaves. Lawn looked good for about 30 minutes then the gales brought down more. Still you have your Spring to look forward to now whilst we will hibernate until our planned trip to Oz and NZ in March.
    Looking forward to that and seeing you both again.

    Take care, love to N, Bye P x