I’m in the midst of a serious cooking week. Wednesday and Thursday were both Rambling Restaurant nights at our secret location in Camden Town. Tomorrow is our London Thanksgiving party that started as a few friends and has somehow mushroomed to over 20 people and we still didn’t manage to fit everyone we wanted to invite! (Don’t worry though, we’re having a holiday party too and you’re all invited:) Sunday is another Rambling Restaurant, then I fly home to Boston to cook family Thanksgiving. Whew! I’m tired just typing that. Well, actually the soreness in my arms is from all the peeling, chopping, kneading, and rolling I’ve been doing tonight to make three pies and brine two turkeys. Yeeowwwch.
Tonight’s been a primarily solo affair (with Chris’s help on the awkward pouring-brine-into-a-plastic-bag-full-of-raw-turkey action), but luckily the Rambling Restaurants are always fun shared cooking evenings full of laughter, chatter, catchup on recent nightly activities, dirty jokes, a broken glass or two (or three) and ample glasses of wine to fuel the cooking creativity. Over the last few nights, Chef foodrambler, Michelle, our newest member Sarah and I have served nine different dishes to over forty people. I’ll start with Wednesday’s meal, a classic and relaxing Rambling Restaurant event compared to the hustle and bustle of the next evening’s wine tasting.
Wednesday we served vegetarian Vietnamese summer rolls as a starter – lightly sauced cellophane noodles and an assortment of fresh veggies (carrots, scallions, cucumber, water chestnuts, cilantro) rolled tight in thin rice paper wrappers. After dipping my fingers in hot water to soften about forty pancakes from their original hardened state, I had some crazyass prune fingers, let me tell you.
Dipped into a sauce of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, soy, garlic, scallions, chili and whatever else I put in that I can’t remember, these bright little bites of freshness are a very happy way to start any meal. But it doesn’t get much better when it’s followed by an insanely good slow-roasted pork shoulder – rubbed with spices and then whacked into the oven for about nine hours till it falls apart at the poke of a fork into the tenderest shreds of meat. Mmmmmmmm….way to go foodrambler.
Scored into about centimeter thick strips with a sharp knife, the outer skin becomes the most amazing fatty, crispy, crunchy crackling that is frighteningly addictive. Served on cabbage and egg noodles with a pour of meaty gravy, this dish is pretty much unstoppable. We ended Wednesday night with an apple crumble with cream and a sprinkling of bittersweet caramel dust. Unfortunately, I always forget to take pictures of dessert. But don’t worry, I’ve got loads of pictures of the FoodRambler’s amazing canape creations from Thursday, coming up next!
Oh and while I’m posting Rambling Restaurant photos…