As regular readers of this blog will know, Eileen and I love to girldate. Whether it’s dinner, coffee, tapas, a movie or something completely different, it’s always great to catch up with Eileen and have some fun. This evening we went on a super fun girls’ night out at Fortnum & Mason, a department store here in London.
I love F&M. It’s beautiful, classic, and full of wonderful foodie finds. I am almost always guaranteed to leave its doors significantly poorer as I tempted by wine, goodies, jams and cheese. But more on that another time! Eileen and I were there this evening on a different kind of mission. We were there for a sweet pie making masterclass! Eileen had spotted it on the website and signed us up to do the class.
We arrived shortly before 5 (well, I did – Eileen had arrived in a slightly more leisurely manner and had time for a cup of tea!) and scurried up to the demonstration kitchen, where we met the lovely Fred and Andrew, the master bakers who were to explain to us the mysteries of yummy, yummy fruit pies.
Confession: previously I’ve had the worst luck with pastry. I can whip up cupcakes and Victoria sponges at a fair old pace, but pies have long eluded me. I did not tell Eileen (or Fred, or Andrew) this fact. I didn’t want to scare them.
The gents explained the process – namely that we’d be making not one but two pies, with a variety of fillings and tops, and we’d be using premade, pre-rested pastry. Then, while the pies baked away merrily we’d have a taste of some of the pies Fred and Andrew had made earlier (in a Blue Peter style) and learn how to make the pastry for ourselves.
Making the pies was super fun – rolling and filling and choosing styles. I adored using the fabulous lattice maker (definitely going on my Christmas list!) and had a good old chat with Fred about our mutual love of Lakeland for kitchen gadgetry. I made a traditional apple pie and a lattice rhubarb and ginger pie, Eileen made the same lattice pie and a beautiful French-style apple tart. Such a fun, relaxing evening – and I managed not to get phased, even when a darling older German lady came over and started narrating my actions (“Don’t roll too hard….careful…..gently…..add the apples now.”). I love the variety of folk you bump into in London department stores!
Eileen all aproned up and ready to bake!
Me, proving once again that a) I will goof off in photos if at all possible; and b) I love a good prop in a photo too!
All ready to make sweet, sweet pie!
Cake crumbs sprinkled in the bottom of the pie to soak up excess moisture = genius!
Trimming off the excess pastry. Check out my lattice! I was very proud of it, haha!
Pies all ready to bake!
Eileen and I with our freshly baked goodies!
Matthew loves a good apple pie. Cannot wait to let him have this as pudding over the weekend!
After we had boxed up our pies to take home to share with Rory and Matthew, Eileen and I decided to continue the evening at 1707, the wine bar at Fortnum & Mason. Which was a good move. We both enjoyed a wine flight (three wines chosen to given you a flavour of a place, season, or mood) – Eileen the Spanish, myself the Australian. We both enjoyed our drinks so much we ended up adding bottles of selections from our flights to the bill to take home. Pie and wine? Lucky, lucky boys.
Along with the wines we enjoyed several selections from the ‘degustation’ menu (nicoise salad, Iberian meats, Mediterranean vegetables, and the most delicious blue cheese-walnut-apple combo), and a few choices from the cheeseboard with crackers and quince jelly. Eileen even had some oysters! All of the food was delicious, fresh, and beautifully balanced. The staff were so helpful and just attentive enough – that perfect mix of always being to hand when you needed them, but not hovering whilst you’re trying to have a good chinwag. The bar itself was cosy, well appointed, and filled with the gentle hubbub of London relaxing and jazz being softly played – by a wonderful bassist who at one point broke out the riff from ‘Hotel California’ for a few bars mid piece – fun!
Eileen, ready for a sit down, a gossip, and some yumminess!
We rounded off the meal with a rich, smooth cup of coffee and a lovely chat about food, wine, and the joys of being French/American/Scottish with Guillaume, the wonderful man in charge. After that we shrugged into coats and back out into the grey of London, full, happy and thoroughly charmed by a fabulous and marvellous evening at F&M.