Come Dine With We. Awm;

My love of food knows no bounds. Well that’s a lie – because I know what I don’t like that’s for sure. What I meant to say was: I’m an avid good-food-enthusiast! Yup that sounds better.

I wanted to share a special food night that I laid on a few weeks ago…it still has me smiling.

My brother had a special day approaching – he & his wife’s 2nd year wedding anniversary, which would also be his 52nd birthday. I cannot tell you how much love I have for my brother and his wife & I are like brother and sister too – she’s a fantastic addition to the family! I wanted to give them a special night where they could feel pampered and…well, special! So I asked if they would mind if I held an evening at their home styled on the TV show ‘Come Dine With Me” as my treat for their special day. The slight variation on the name was based on sending up the caricature of an old-skoolCaribbean elder who would try to speak posh but couldn’t help adding getting a few words wrong, also adding “awm” as a sentence buffer. It being called “Come Dine With We. Awm; “ was a clear sign to them that it wasn’t going to be a bog-standard dinner party, however they agreed and it was down to me to get it all together. I issued formal invites and kept them completely in the dark about what would happen on the day. Even when they came home from work on the evening, they were not allowed to venture onto the ground floor of the house until the start of the evening.

The dress code for the evening was “wear something weddingy”. That set them buzzing! On the day, my brother wore a black suit business suit with open-neck white shirt and button-hole, my sister-in-law wore a slinky cocktail dress with the tiara from her wedding day, our little brother @MiniDavidHaye wore a suite & get-up, and I wore a tuxedo with matching bow tie & cummerbund, also a button-hole.

I decorated the dining room to it’s formal dinner party glory…the house was buzzing as they streamed downstairs to experience the menu:

Champagne& toasts

Salmon bake with drizzled lemon rocket

Spicy roast chicken with succulent SpiritedStrength Sauce
Sizzling string beans
Red cabbage sautéed in red wine sauce
Dauphinoise potatoes

Individual apple crumbles with nutmeg ice-cream

Preparation, stress, also dramatic highs and lows in preparing the meal were all part of the rush for me. I could go into about the dramas I experienced that day and the things I’d definitely do differently next time but I’ll refrain. I’m just glad to be a man that focuses on the end result, is all I’m saying (what a ting!). It all paid off though! Let me tell you, they’re not an easy crowd to please, food-wise! The hardest to please of the bunch is my brother who is an excellent cook and is the type of Caribbean man who, when he invites you round for dinner will give you 4 types of meat, 1 type of veg, 3 types off rice, 1 type of salad, with drink and desert till you have to be rolled out of the door – all while he smiled and constantly stated it was oh so easy (knucklehead). He takes no prisoners when something isn’t to his liking or standards (I cringe when he candidly pipes up about others’ food – good thing my sister-in-law has learned to just give him the side-eye when he coughs up his opinion). I breathed internal sighs of relief when I heard his stamps of approval of each course and requests for the recipe. Of course I’d be glad to share them with him, although, like him, I’m an adventurous cook – I create as I go…but it would be great to share my ideas and culinary creative processes with a man whose cooking I bow down to (I can’t bare him).

Just when they thought it was all over, I invited them to join is in the living room for after-dinner entertainment. The both slowly walked in, giving me and @MiniDavidHaye *side-eye* looks wondering what the hell we were about to do to them.

In formal Master of Ceremony style, I announced that I was handing over to the great Hilary Hillingdon aka one of my best friends @BaldChic on their living room wide-screen, complete with jacked-up-wig, glasses and busted make up, alongside a speaky-spokey Jamaican accent!

I proclaimed that we I would be handing over the evening to Hilary Hillingdon, who would lead them through a competition based on the retro British TV game show, Mr & Mrs, live by satellite link (Skype) fromNorth London. They fall out laughing! In the 30 minutes before lift-off, we were in a panic because the technicians at either end couldn’t get the live link to stream clearly. After struggling for 20 minutes, I called a time out and resorted to placing my iPhone on the table and using FaceTime in landscape view, allowing Hilary Hillingdon to continue her show with seamless transmission. We were all agog with how amazing the iPhone technology worked. It was if she was in the room! It was a dramatic downsizing from being on the big wide-screen TV but that was a little price to pay for such clarity. Hilary Hillingdon was in the room and in charge!

I had prepared 10 Mr & Mrs Questions that Hilary would ask my brother to answer about his wife, while she was removed form the room. His wife would return and be asked them in front of the audience while Hilary berated them both with her belly–aching commentary about their answers. The same round was done in reverse. I can’t tell you how funny it was – Hilary was a complete an utter quality mess of a character! She was far better than any comedic character on the TV. We fell out laughing!

Then came the Quick Fire round – 5 questions prepared about me & 5 about @MiniDavidHaye – my brother and his wife went head-to-head had to ring the bell to answer each, giving them a chance to change their individual scores completely. The result was: My brother: 5 and his wife: 9. Both rubbish scores (as Hillary Hillingdon told them with a pan-face) however my sister-in-law humbly accepted her win with room-filled woots and the furore of the soundtrack played by Hilary Hillingdon’s technician: Beyonce’s ‘Run The World (Girls)”.

The prizes for the evening were:

Winner’s Prize

  • 24hr Get Our Of Jail Free Card” – 1 day to do as you please, midnight– 2–midnight
  • You don’t have to manage anything back at the fort – just let everyone know the day, and disappear!
  • You don’t have to do any house, family or child-raring chores
  • If you want to go off radar you can

 Joint Mr & Mrs Participation Prize  

  • 1-Day Gym & Pool experience at LA Fitness
  • Must be taken together
  • SpiritedStrength &  @MiniDavidHaye to babysit

It really was a night to remember – a perfect evening’s food and entertainment in my brother’s loving home. We cited “no but do you remember..?!” jokes for days afterwards, and I was warned that I wouldn’t get away with such a long gap before I cooked for the house again. We have told @BaldChic with our most serious demeanours that she unearthed a vocation seriously worth pursuing. I think she heard us…let’s see what happens next.

Home cooked food, lovingly prepared, a deep desire to please, nourish and give love to people you care for is a perfect way to celebrate human connection and to celebrate life itself. Having your equally mad-arse friend excel at providing solid entertainment in a unique and memorable way is an insurmountable blessing (for my brother, my sister-in-law and for me) that I’ll treasure for life. Oh for the simple things.

SpiritedStrength = daily life driven by: • heart • realness • liberation • purpose • learning • happiness


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