Friday, 15 July 2016

Forge Bakehouse meal out

I’m writing this the morning after the night before. At one point I didn’t think I’d ever get enough blood-flow to my extremities to be able to move (let alone type) again, with my digestive system being overwhelmed yet delighted by the feast I consumed last night.

Wow, Forge Bakehouse – what an evening! I never imagined that I would go to a pizza night and come home with five out of 6 slices of my pizza intact! I mean this as a huge compliment – the quality and quantity of food was so awesome that I had to make some sacrifices – and everyone knows that cold pizza is still delicious the next day. Adding a soupcon of salad cream is my accoutrement of choice. (I mean if you want to elevate any dish to Masterchef, nay Michelin-starred standard, everyone knows all you’ve got to do is add salad cream…) But I digress.

Our group of 22 lucky SHWI-ers arrived for the sell-out event ready and raring for pizza and dessert, all pre-ordered from a bespoke designed menu. What we weren’t expecting were the starters. I mean, we knew we had some tapas style starters awaiting us, but we didn’t expect the range that greeted us. Martha and the team at Forge Bakehouse had provided us with 8 dishes per table! And the portion size was extremely generous. 

We started off with a platter of bread, oils and dukkah, with a butternut squash dip and coriander and butterbean hummus. Happy bunnies all round. 

Then they brought s deceptively simple ‘Tom Pom salad’ – mixed tomato and pomegranate salad with fresh oregano and pomegranate molasses. WOW! The sweetness of the pomegranate combined beautifully with the freshness of the tomatoes, and I would never have thought to add fresh oregano, but I am going to try and recreate this baby at home. 

Next came the grilled slices of baby aubergine with a bulghur wheat and herb salad, topped with pine nuts and feta. Again, this is something I will (no doubt very poorly) attempt to replicate at home. So subtle, but soooo good! 

We thought that was it and were feeling pretty stuffed already when the panko friend green olives with yoghurt and salsa verde came out. They went down a STORM, with Rhian ‘just checking’ that she didn’t like olives by scoffing several – something tells me her opinion may have changed! 

And finally, a lovely retro-style dish FILLED with aubergine fries (with a polenta crust) and some of the loveliest arancini I’ve ever had. The herbs complemented the mouthwatering molten mozzarella centre perfectly. See, I’ve even cracked the alliteration out here, so you know it’s gotta be good! 

Then came the main event – the pizzas. We’d pre-ordered and knew what we were getting, but the process was made even more fun by the waiting staff jotting our numbers down on the paper-topped table in front of us. It was at that point that some of the less observant of us (i.e. me) realised that we had been provided with crayons to doodle away on the ‘tablecloths’! A brilliant touch! You can see some of Grace’s WI-inspired art work here:

Back to the grub – the team had designed 4 pizza topping options for us: Pizza One was king prawn marinated in lime and chilli, mozzarella, grilled courgette, chilli, coriander and optional chorizo. Pizza Two was a #vegan option of Sri Lankan pahi with aubergine, ramiro pepper, onion, parsley and tahini sauce - if I was blogging this from my phone right now, there’d be an array of heart-eyed emojis right here! Pizza Three was purple potatoes, garden peas, grilled asparagus, mint pesto, pea shoots, ricotta and mozzarella. Pizza Four was sausage meat with shredded tenderstem broccoli, oven-dried tomatoes, smoked onion and mozzarella. 

Nobody needs me to crack out my thesaurus right now to bombard you with adjectives to describe them, I’ll let the pics do the talking. Suffice to say, we had VERY happy customers.

And still, there were the puddings to come. Three options had been provided, based around specific flavour combinations and catering to all dietary requirements – vegan-friendly choc dessert anyone?

Dessert A was ‘Apricot and Almond’. This comprised of quite frankly the BEST vanilla panna cotta I’ve ever had (ooohhh the jiggle!) This was complemented by roasted apricots, cherries, apricot jellies and amaretti morbidi (for the uninitiated, these were chewy amaretto-flavoured biscuit-y balls). 

Dessert 2 was ‘Raspberry and Pistachio’ – raspberry sorbet baked Alaska with pistachio sponge, Italian meringue, fresh raspberries and jellies. Every portion was perfect – I have no idea how you can make 8 perfect portions of baked Alaska all served at the same time, but Forge Bakehouse managed it with aplomb! 

Finally, we had dessert C – ‘Chocolate, Lime and Rum’. This was vegan chocolate and lime pudding with mango salsa, coconut and lime granita and passionfruit. This deceptively simple-sounding dish was presented so beautifully (with a chocolate work garnish no less), that it seemed such a shame to eat it. We soon got over that! 

10pm flew round and it was time for us to stagger home (some of us even turning down lifts in a vain attempt to walk off our fullness). All I can say is that we all absolutely loved every aspect of the evening. We were very happy to be Forge Bakehouse’s bistro guinea pigs – although you would have thought they’d been running nights like this for YEARS. Thank you, thank you, thank you once again to Martha and the team for arranging a wonderful evening. When can we come back?

Anna Pilson
Committee member

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