Cocktail dress on, champagne drunk, 3 course Hotel Du Vin meal enjoyed – I cannot deny that my evening was well spent at Till Death Do Them Part: the Fine Food and Dining Society’s immersive murder mystery dinner. The evening’s success rested heavily on the improvisation skills of the 6 main actors – Molly Williams, Caelan Mitchell-Bennett, Minoli de Silva, Bennett Hunecke, Kate Stamoulis and Sasha Gisbourne (aided by photographers, wedding planners and hotel staff who were indispensable to the immersion – in particular Mary Byrne, the ‘host from the hotel’, did such a great job that I thought she worked for Hotel Du Vin until she was presented with flowers at the end of the night!). We were first welcomed into a reception chamber in which the actors slowly began to mingle with the assembled guests. Special mention must be made of Williams and Mitchell-Bennett who adeptly dealt with every single question thrown at them, providing seamless characterisation. The atmosphere was warm and the excitement tangible (I heard many a whisper of “he/she’s gonna die, I bet you”). Sure enough, as the Bride and Groom toasted to the occasion, the latter bent double in a realistic choking fit and we were all shepherded desperately out of the reception room and through to the dining room, accompanied by promises of “yes, I’ll call the police in a minute”.
Confession: while I’m a huge fan of binge-watching Ted Talks while I should be writing essays, I’d actually never been to a Ted event until yesterday. And now I’m really regretting not going to TEDx St Andrews events before, because it was incredible.
One of the things I love about St Andrews, is that students throw dinner parties. Not just casual get-togethers or potlucks, but full on, multiple-course dinners. At first, I found this concept to be too grown-up for students on a budget, but I quickly became a fan of these feasts. I have been served everything from scallops, to individual white chocolate crème brulées to imported balsamic vinegar, and usually find myself completely stuffed!
With the opening of The Adamson in April, my foodie prayers were answered. A gourmet restaurant with a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere is something St. Andrews has needed for a while. The restaurant’s exceptional setting, staff, and food have exceeded my expectations for such a small town.
Sometimes the meal you've planned seems like it's missing something. So, you decide to add a sauce but have no idea where to begin, since there are so many options and some of them are a bit daunting. This is Sauces 101. These are basic sauces that you can turn to time and time again, in all of your cooking.
A season: the perfect ‘Chalet Girl’ perfect lifestyle, i.e. working for ridiculously good looking clients who spend about two weekends in five months in their chalet. Dom Perignon, hot tubs, and caviar for breakfast, carefully prepared in a kitchen fit for the Queen. The height of luxury? The reality: waking up at 6.30am after a 4.00am scramble to bed, arrive at your distinctly lower-than-average chalet with a kitchen the size of an airing cupboard to serve breakfast to some screaming children and their oh-so-fussy parents. Prepare yourself for a barrage of complaints,"the loo overflowed – clean it up." Oh joy.
I have always been a chocoholic and, as a keen chef, am constantly baking with copious amounts of it. However, there are only so many chocolate cakes, cookies and melt-in-the-middle puddings you can make without feeling ever so slightly guilty. So, I thought I would try something a little different. Last Christmas, my brother gave me a chocolate recipe book entitled 101 Best Loved Cfrom Hotel Chocolat, containing divine recipes for all sorts of teatime treats and puddings.
1. Take your shoes off—literally. A hostess without shoes feels comfortable herself, making her guests feel at home
Thanksgiving: a perfectly carved turkey, fiery orange mashed sweet potatoes, professionally decorated pies, a lace tablecloth and a spotless kitchen. All this is well and good, but my Thanksgivings have certainly never been like that. At most Thanksgivings, my family talks about a time when the turkey wasn’t cooking, so they chucked in the microwave for a bit.
From Saturday Kitchen with the fabulously sozzled Keith Floyd, to the St Andrews student dinner party, with food, we have an obsession with wine. When we consider the classic food and drink combinations, we think of wine and cheese, oysters and champagne, but when beer comes to mind, it is the pub favourites of beer-and-a-burger, pies, sausages, and other stodgy dishes. Surely then, beer wouldn’t be able to compete with wine as a dinner party accompaniment. Barolo over bitter every time? However, you may be surprised to find beer is beginning to hold its own on the dining table.