So, after many, many weeks of planning and preparations, the big night finally came on Saturday past. My first supper club (I did start out calling it a bistro night, but was warned off by the competition! A story for another time perhaps). I held it at The Whistle Stop Cafe in Whitehead, which is a mere 2 min walk from my house (handy, as it turned out we made at least a dozen trips back to pick up stuff we’d forgotten!). Tracy, the owner was just lovely about everything. Really laid back, trusting and supportive, so a massive thank you to her for taking a punt on me.
We had 26 people booked in and 26 duly turned up. My next door neighbour and the person who talked me into all this in the first place, Maeve Taylor, was Maitre-d’ and chief organiser of front-of-house. She led our team of volunteer helpers in transforming the place from modern daytime cafe to cosy bistro with table cloths, sombreros, candles and fairy lights and her donation of a bottle of very good Tequila Reposada with which she greeted arrivals, went down a storm. I really couldn’t and wouldn’t have done this without her.
5 things that worked really well on the night included:
- Having a set menu which people had chosen from in advance
- Letting Maeve persuade me that we did need one extra pair of hands
- Employing one of the regular cafe staff on the night, as he knew where everything was (cheers Louis)
- Making a plan of the room and using post-it notes to mark who was sitting where and what their order was
- The tequila slammers handed to guests on arrival
5 things I learned not to do next time:
- Gauge my portion sizes on what I’m used to making at home for hubby and two large teenage boys. It seems ‘normal’ people really don’t eat as much as them!
- Assume that every person will want a full lime to themselves. 52 limes was probably about 20 too many!
- Assume that one small carton of soured cream would only serve two people. 13 cartons was probably about 7 too many!
- Assume that everyone loves guacamole as much as me and that we’d need at least half an avocado each. 26 avocados was probably about 10 too many!
- Assume that every table needed a hefty bowl of mixed salad, Mexican rice and beans, salsa, guacamole, cheese, jalapenos, soured cream and refried beans along with their main course. 1.5kg cheese and four jars of jalapenos is probably about 1kg and three jars too many!
You can probably see a theme running through the learning points…. I must, on pain of death, add one other ‘must not do’ to the list:
- Choose a menu that involves so many small ramekin-like dishes (my dishwashers warned me in no uncertain terms to steer clear of that in future!).
Looking at the feedback, it seems a good night was had by all. Music needs to be louder next time and we didn’t think to give people side plates for their nachos – doh! We’re hoping to do another one in September and the most popular cuisine type from the options given (Italian, Indian or Middle Eastern) was Italian, so I have duly ordered a couple more cookery books from Amazon this morning and planning will commence very shortly.
Anyway, that’s probably enough for this week. My lovely mother warned me that last week’s post was far too long and that people would stop reading if I didn’t make them shorter (cheers mum!). You’ll probably be glad to know I’ll be moving onto food other than Mexican in the coming weeks (expect a lot of Italian!) and probably also showcasing some South African dining when we go on holiday there very soon.
I’ve included the list of recipes from the Mexican night below – many have featured before, but I wanted to compile them all in one place for simplicity. Yes Mother, That’s me done. Honestly, not another word….