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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

We are on Saturday Kitchen

Well not actually on, but 'in' Saturday Kitchen.

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To explain, my wife got a rather nice Christmas present from her husband and we were off for a Saturday Kitchen Experience.

As we arrived in Clapham, the address took us to a residential road just off the High Street. The doorway was tricky to find with houses either side. What we were to discover when entering, was a labyrinth of rooms over 3 floors. In fact we had entered a house connected to an old chapel behind, which was unseen from outside and now contained a Cookery School, TV Studio and lots of other rooms.

We were in a group of 12 and warmly welcomed by the Cactus Studio's team, and Cyrus Todiwala, our host for the day.

Cyrus runs the highly acclaimed Cafe Spice Namaste restaurant in the City of London, and is a regular host chef on Saturday Kitchen. He also starred with Tony Singh in the popular BBC TV series 'The Incredible Spice Men'.

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Cyrus greeted us warmly and was very amiable, chatting about anything anyone wanted to ask.

His relaxed cookery demonstration, making a fabulous Indian fish croquette with spicy tomato sauce was excellent. As he chatted, his knowledge on spices, food sources and sustainability were undeniable. He also has a deep understanding of the health properties of various foods and a warm personality which made the session a joy. This guy is more than just a chef, and without doubt an expert in food.

We then got to taste his creation, which you will not be surprised to hear was delicious.

We were then led to one of the six kitchen areas in the room for the 'Omelette Challenge'. My wife stepped up first, whisked away and put an acceptable omelette on the plate in a reasonable time. Looking around 'scrambled egg' was more to be seen in the other stations.

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My moment of glory then arrived. As I positioned my ingredients, the stopwatch was ignited and I was soon cracking eggs one handed in a bowl. Butter hit the pan as I used the other hand to swirl and fully coat the receptacle of my masterpiece.

As I whisked like a whirling dervisher I could see my name at the top of the winners board. As I gently seasoned my mixture, it was then I spotted my butter wasn't melting too well. It transpired that this was because my wife had turned off the hob when she had finished!

My final omelette was of course a triumph, and as everyone had finished before me, the whole group witnessed my equal measures of triumph and complete failure. My wife was struggling to suppress a big smile.

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Next stop was a visit to the TV Studio. Saturday Kitchen is a live show on Saturday mornings and James Martin and his guest, Henry Winkler had left only a couple of hours earlier. The kitchen was immediately familiar, but in a surprisingly narrow room. The height was substantial due to us being in an old chapel. 

We were free to wander and play as we wanted. I of course took to the kitchen to demonstrate should James not make it one day I would be happy to step in. My wife felt the Cactus Kitchen team would prefer someone from McDonalds first, and then stopped me for mixing up the faces on the 'Omelette Challenge Board'.

Our tour continued as we were shown the technical areas and dressing rooms behind the scenes, and listened to some informative stories about the show and how it gets on air.

We then went upstairs for a wine tasting. At every stage this day was more than expected, and we did not realise the tasting also included a food pairing. The first was a German Gewurztraminer wine served with Cyrus's fish croquette, then an Austrian Grunerveitliner white with scallops, a German pinot noir with duck, a Rioja red with lamb and finally an asti spumante with a full bowl of pavlova.  

Our wine host was colourful and enthusiastic as he took us through the wines and ensured glasses were constantly full. We were instructed that no bottle was to be left empty, and joyfully we all obliged. About 5-7 generous glasses of wine per person are of course a pleasure and guaranteed to put smiles on everyone faces.

Our final trip was the the 'Green Room' where we all chatted before the 'Omelette Challenge' awards were made. My 'wooden spoon' now has pride of place in our kitchen draw.

The whole afternoon was excellently organised and delivered more than expected. As we left the wine was still giving a warm feeling inside, so we decided to have one more experience we don't normally have, so we jumped on bus to the station.  

A Taste of Saturday Kitchen: To find out more click here

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Cyrus Todiwala's - Cafe Spice Namaste Restaurant: click here.

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