Come Dine With Prestige!
Friday March 13, 2015 by Elsa Wangsten
Alex w, marietjie, nicky, elsa, alex g, melissa and daisy!
Too many cooks in the kitchen?
Well things certainly got steamy when the Prestige girls (and a few boys, both young and old) gathered on a Monday evening for their own spin-off of the hit Channel 4 show ‘Come Dine With Me’!
The original aim of the evening had been to try and showcase the various capabilities of a fully equipped kitchen in a serviced apartment, but having a great multicultural mix in the office, we thought: “Why not also have a night where we get to try out each other’s different cuisines?”
Totally brilliant idea if you ask me!
Having been offered the use of one of their sensational apartments by Como (and the lovely Melissa) for our gathering, we all headed excitedly over to Mayfair to get the party started! We’d also asked Melissa to help with the eventual judging of the various dishes, and with the help of Daisy’s husband George (acting as a guest judge), to give us an impartial view on our efforts. Yeah, right!
Anyway, we got ourselves all set up for our little party in one of Como’s really beautiful, spacious (and extremely affordable for Park Lane) two bedroom apartments, and were extra spoiled with a lovely table that Melissa’s team had laid specially for the occasion.
Once in the apartment, and with Alex W’s hubby Richard taking care of the drinks with his usual aplomb, we scrambled for best positions in the area that was to be the main focus of the evening, the kitchen!
So, let's meet the contestants:
For England: Nicky from Nottingham, and boss Alex from Windsor
For South Africa: Marietjie from ‘Maritzburg & Richard from Uitenhage (where?)
Representing Sweden: Elsa from somewhere we can’t pronounce.
From Bulgaria: The lovely Daisy
From Poland: Gorgeous Alex G and her delicious dumplings.
Marietjie started the ball rolling by preparing her (apparently famous) South African dish of Boerewors sausages, slamming them under the grill, while early favourite Nicky began furiously chopping up all sorts of bits and pieces for her traditional British Ploughman’s.
Taking turns and swapping places (with very little actual cat fighting despite the obvious raw competitive edge filling the air), it was time for Alex G to prepare her Polish pickled herring as well as to fiddle with her ample dumplings (three kinds of them!) on the stove. Fortunately she had the help of her little (nearly 3) Hugo who tagged along as company for the evening. Next up to perform minor miracles in this superb, fully equipped kitchen was this Swede herself who this evening was to offer her version of the Swedish classic ‘Skagenröra’ on toast (it’s kind of a prawn cocktail) as well as some gravadlax salmon with Hovmästarsås. Making the Skagenröra from scratch I was pleased to find that I had all the essentials there to help me work it out: chopping board, bowls, sharp knife and toaster - super!
With the temperature in the kitchen rising rapidly now, and with the participants (with a little help from Richard the bartender) rising to the challenge, Daisy stepped up to the ‘plate’ preparing her Bulgarian tzatziki and rice-filled vine leaves! Mmmm, appetites were being whetted now!
Then Richard (or to be honest his long suffering wife Alex!) stepped up to the hob to prepare the next South African dish – Durban Bunny Chow! I know what you’re thinking but no cute animals were harmed in the making of. Bunny Chow is actually a half loaf of bread with the top taken off and the bread middle cut out creating a ‘bread bowl’ and this is filled with lovely lamb curry. You just put the top back on and there you have it. Traditionally eaten on a night out after a few drinks but delicious all the same.
Marietjie meanwhile, was hard at it making her second South African dish, a delicious dessert called ‘melktert’ - a kind of tart made with milk. And last but definitely not least we had the boss Alex W (whose adopted home country is France) and who therefore made some brilliant French ‘crepes suzettes’.
And so it was with some trepidation that, with all of the food prepared and nicely lined up on the side table of the huge living room, we arranged ourselves at the table. One of the challenges of the evening had been to provide appropriate national drinks to compliment the dishes, and they were…perfectly cooled in the fridge freezer and served according to everyone’s request: white and red wines, traditional English beers, prosecco and some (rather strong) Polish vodka – we just had to take our pick!
Trying out the various cuisines country by country, we all enjoyed a lovely (and very filling) dinner. Dish by dish we slowly made our way through the enormous buffet and just like in the Channel 4 programme, we rated the food along the way.
Now here comes the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
In the final vote, a show of hands agreed that the winning dish was a dead heat between Bulgaria and Sweden (which Daisy and myself were very happy with!).
But hey, we can‘t take all the glory as towards the end of the dinner we were given a nice surprise by the Metropolitan’s room service and treated to some lovely desserts of tropical cheesecake and mousse, which came in as a wild card at the end and swooped us all off our chairs.
Well, nicely full now, we did all consider staying the night and camping out on the comfy looking sofas and large double beds (and possibly even bathtubs) but decided in the end to head off home and not take up any more of Como’s fantastic hospitality.
Being right in the heart of Mayfair and with Hyde Park Corner station just around the corner and taxis lined up outside as well as buses running pretty much all the time outside on Park Lane, we all had non-problematic journeys home!
Well I guess that’s a wrap, and I mean that quite literally as we wrapped the best of the food that we didn’t have the space to consume and enjoyed more of Alex’s crepes the day after, which conveniently enough was ‘pancake-day’…well, will you look at that!
With everyone in a good mood and with happy stomachs I think we definitely proved the importance of having a kitchen in your apartment during your stay, which you won’t find in a hotel, and that having the space to cook and enjoy a nice dinner with a group of friends and family is just awesome!
If you’d like to see photos of the various masterpieces (or just our lovely, friendly faces) you can take a peek at our Pinterest board here.
Thank you for reading and if you want to you can follow me on twitter: @ElsaWangsten
Posted by Elsa Wangsten