Hirsute Hash(tag) Slingers - from Practice to (hic) Perfection

>> Friday, 2 September 2011

Alfie and James
Hello, I'm James Whatley and I'm Alfie Dennen.

We'll be sharing the blogging for your fair eyes and James will be writing in bold (see above) whereas I will be writing in italics. Easy.

It all started with a practice day.

Sneaky flour pouring

What better excuse for not only pals to hang out but also to ride pillion across town (with rhubarb sticking out of my backpack - very shoreditch!) collecting produce from one of London's best farmers' markets (nothing outside of the M25 there dontcha know). I met James at the market after we'd agreed that this might be a rehearsal but didn't need to be a *dress* rehearsal - so our dickie bows and braces weren't in attendance.

We didn't have absolutely everything we wanted to cook nailed down, but (when discussing my plans for the weekend to a friend) I had an exciting dish described to me by a gen-you-ine New Yorkah, something originating from there, something called a Spiedie.

After that, we had one more salad to figure out (I was cheating my way into salad territory, which I'll describe later). James came up with what I hope becomes a modern classic. At least a new classic way of eating a salad. Dubbed the 'ex-wife bites' (and based upon an ex-wife's recipe) it consists lettuce, cheese, tomato and a drizzle of James' patented balsamic dressing, stacked up on a toothpick -- Getit? Ex-wife bites? Ahem.

I was lucky, Alfie's elements were to be the soup, the dessert and one of the salads (three out of five). Apparently, he's been baking a lot recently, and had recently discovered a recipe for a... for a... how did you describe it Alfie?

The Hirsute Hashtag Slingers! :D

Ahem - a lemon drizzle cake standard that introduces crushed almonds and produces in-mouth-more-please-eat-whole-cake results.
While it's my turn to talk, I should also mention that preparing a summery soup is a bit more of a challenge, but it turns out that chunky chicken, carrots, aubergine and onion can come together into a saucy little summery soup.

Last up was the salad. Along with baking quite a bit, I've also been experimenting with cheese. A lot. It's true. One week basically every sauce I made was a cheese sauce of some variation. You might've had some pan-fried halloumi before, but have you ever battered thick slices of Bufala Mozzarella and pan-fried those? Now, if you serve one of them sandwiched between a thick slice of Beefsteak Tomato and thinly sliced Prosciutto and garnish with some wild Rocket and balsamic drizzle... Then you have yourself something which, if pressed, you could still get away with calling a salad - aka 'The Bufala Decker!'

Planning - it turned out - was everything. Not only did we get to try the AMAZING (and handed-down-through-generations) marinade on our lamb spiedie, but we also managed to experiment with a few 'unknowns' - ie: what bread to use on the aforementioned meat concoction.

Plus (after finishing off a couple of bottles of red wine) we decided, on the day, we'd go FULL HIPSTER. Braces. Bow-ties. Sunglasses.


When the day arrived many, many things happened. Alfie, I think we should just list these off... OK, cool - guys, we're just going to list our awesomeness and you can dive in and click/consume the ones you think amuse you/prefer... Deal? Deal.

  • First, James had the 'genius' idea of starting a whole new blog *that morning*, solely dedicated to our culinary exploits. We managed ten posts throughout the day and, given the huge undertaking we had ahead of us, I don't think we did too bad at all.

  • I found Alfie shortly after I published our first blog post; as agreed he was going to supply the sunglasses and I was sorting the ties and braces. There was... a wardrobe malfunction with the latter. One that threatened to overshadow the entire day - that was until, thanks to some handiwork in the kitchen, we MacGuyver'd our way out it. Good work all round.

  • After the safety briefing (which we missed - an important fact for later), the teams were sent out to the market. JW managed to grab a short video (LIVE!), but the photos from the day are *awesome*. Also, thanks to our ingenious idea to test run the weekend before, we'd asked the meat farmer to get in a boned leg of lamb especially. Bonus points for thinking ahead there I think.

  • Like I said earlier, the planning from last week meant we knew what we had to do and when: Alfie was on soup duty, I was on lamb prep. We were on!

  • Then we hit problems. First, as we had missed the safety briefing I was unaware that tasting the food *with my fingers* wasn't allowed. Of course, looking back on it now, it all makes sense (and when I'm cooking for myself it's not such a problem but), alas, I was caught red-handed and duly scolded. Minus one point for food safety. Then, came the drizzle situation.

  • I was upstairs, out of the kitchen, uploading our latest blog post when Alfie comes running at me saying: James, we have a problem. I need you to go back to the market and pick up these ingredients... it turned out that someone, somehow (and we're not saying it was on purpose - *cough cough*) had managed to turn the temperature up on the oven that was baking Alfie's ever-so-delicate sponge. Sponge v.1 was a disaster. Sponge v.2 was the way forward.

  • Then there was wine.

    Wine, iPad and cooking

  • Finally, it was all coming together and, our dishes (below) were as follows: salad one - the Bufala Decker, salad two - the Ex-Wife Bites, soup - Summer Souperness, main - The Spiedie of Awesome, something sweet - Lemon Drizzle Cake.
The dishes in all their glory--

The Hirsute Hashtag Slingers' final dishes!

So here we are - at the end of it all and - given our awesome look, the delightful dishes (two of which gained honourable mentions from the highly respected food judges), and the fact that we - we feel - stuck to the brief the tightest, here we are asking for your votes today...

Our photos can be found over on Flickr and our Hirsute blog is up and viewable for all to see.

Thank you for your consideration.

PS. Our original interview is a good read too ;)



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