I have toyed with the idea of putting on a pop up restaurant for some time now. The lack of space in my house and general fear that no one would come have always held me back. However, with the help of my friend Amy, who manages the quirky Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, I finally got it together and put on my very first pop up event in the hotel bar.
‘British Eccentric Afternoon Tea’ , Hotel Pelirocco. Flyer designed by James Antill
Earlier this year I worked on a couple of events with the woman that started the whole pop up craze in the UK, Ms Marmite Lover. Kerstin Rodgers started an underground restaurant in her basement flat in Kilburn in 2007. The restaurant has thrived ever since, she documents her events and recipes on her beautifully written blog and even had a book published last year ‘Supper Club: recipes and notes from the Underground Restaurant‘. Kerstin has been a huge source of inspiration to countless young foodies all over the world, myself included. I helped out with Kerstin’s Jersey Royal Supper Club at her flat and the Organic Debate Banquet at Toynbee hall, both inspiring experiences.
I decided to do an afternoon tea for my first pop up event as I thought it would be simpler to have a selection of cakes and savouries I had made in advance, and could then just arrange in a plate. I was wrong. Having lots of different elements made it extremely fiddly and the prep work was immense. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every minute of it and it was invaluable experience. I can’t wait for the next one.
The theme for my afternoon tea was ‘British Eccentric’; all of the food was classic British with an eccentric twist, the soundtrack and dress code also followed the theme.
The event is hopefully going to be a monthly fixture at The Hotel Pelirocco so watch this space for more delicious, fun filled events.
Salted caramel millionaire shortbread
Napkins and vintage cutlery
Shot of Lemon Posset
The cheese, chilli and Marmite straws were a bit hit with the guests. Although, I can’t really take credit for the recipe, the idea came from the Woman & Home kitchen where I will be working for the next two months. I just added a sprinkle of chilli flakes to give them an eccentric twist. You can see how to make them here.
Making the Cheese, chilli and Marmite straws
Another big success were the Raspberry meringue pie cupcakes, a recipe for which I can take credit. They are a sort of cross between a Victoria sponge and a lemon meringue pie, two British classics. The meringue and the sponge are both very sweet so I filled them with tangy fresh raspberries and crème fraiche to balance the sweetness.
Raspberry Meringue Pie Cupcakes
For the buttermilk sponge
Makes approx 50 mini, bite-sized sponges, if you want to make less, just half the mixture.
- 280g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 230mls buttermilk
- 150g butter, at room temperature
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
To make the sponge I’d recommend using a hand whisk or a free standing electric mixer. You will need 50 mini cupcake cases, and silicone moulds so they keep their structure during baking. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a jug, gradually add it to the butter and sugar, continually whisking all the time. Your mixture may curdle a bit, but don’t worry, the flour will rectify this.
Sift together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and then fold into the mixture a little at a time until the mixture is smooth and incorporated. Finally add the vanilla paste and give it a final mix. Fill the cupcake cases with the mixture and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden or until you can insert a skewer into the centre of a cake and it comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool completely.
For the candy striped meringues
- 3 large egg white
- 100g caster sugar
- 75g icing sugar
- red gel paste food colouring
Candy striped meringues
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven at 150 degrees C.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks- you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out. Be careful not to over whisk the egg whites or your meringues will collapse.
Sift the sugars together and gradually add them to the egg whites, a tablespoon at a time, whilst continually whisking. You should have a beautiful snow drift like mixture that holds its shape, but is still soft and light.
To get the lovely candy striped effect, paint three or four stripes of gel food colouring on the inside of a piping bag. To get the correct shape, you will need an open star nozzle. Then just pipe blobs of the mixture on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The nozzle and the food colouring will do the rest. Do not over fill the bag as it will be difficult to control.
Bake the meringues for 10 minutes at 150 degrees, then turn the oven down to 100 degrees and bake for a further 45 minutes. Now turn the oven off completely, but leave the meringues in there until it is completely cooled. I like to make them in the evening and leave them in the oven overnight to dry out properly.
To assemble the raspberry meringue pie cup cakes, layer a sponge base with a teaspoon of crème fraiche and a whole raspberry. Top with the candy stripped meringue, I like to place it at an angle so you can see the filling. Pop into your mouth in one go.