It's one of my 25 before 25 to host a full on dinner party. A three course meal, good wine, good company - the works. Now I haven't quite managed to host one just yet (I've still got a couple of months to do so though!) but this weekend, I was a guest at one. And what a dinner party it was.
The Clapton Pot is a supper club, hosted by two Clapton locals who take turns to cook up a storm and have you over for dinner. All they ask is that you bring a bottle of something and a love of conversation with you. In their words, 'it's easy to hang out with the same people all the time, but we want to meet new locals and share stories around the dinner table.' And that's exactly what we did.
I'd stumbled across the idea after meeting Anna (one of the co-hosts) through a friend. She'd been tweeting about it after she went to one late last year and it piqued my interest enough to click through and spontaneously snap up one of the tickets (there's generally only enough room for 8 at the table so it's first come first served). Any initial nervous thoughts were completely quelled when Anna greeted me and took me up to Violaine's (the other half of The Clapton Pot) gorgeous flat.
The first to arrive, we cracked open the bottle of red I'd bought and began introductions. The other guests arrived soon after - there was Clare, one of Violaine's work pals; Lucy and Sofia who knew Anna through work separately, and Ed, a local Claptonite, and the only guy in attendance. Everyone quickly fell into happy conversation, only broken by the arrival of the starter.
A light and moreish salad of the freshest mozzarella with tangy beetroot. The slight pickle taste of the vinegar cut through the creaminess of the cheese to bring together this really great dish. I wolfed it down pretty sharpish (hungry girl over here) but loved this unexpected combination. And can we talk about how pretty these plates are?
Next up was this beautifully colourful pan. A potato, sweet potato and squash bake, passed down to Anna from her mum, with fresh lime and coriander, pine nuts and the quickest of eggs - this was one Mexican dish that I have been dreaming of ever since. Completely vegetarian (although all of us at this evening were omnivores), this was demolished in minutes with second and third helpings quickly becoming a thing. It was comfortable and exotic, all in one, and perfected by sides of wilted spinach and a black bean mash teased with lime.
And then to finish. A glass of prosecco, of course (courtesy of Sofia) and this divine blood orange chocolate cheesecake. With a base of oats, goats cheese mixed into the cream cheese, a divine chocolate topping and fresh blood oranges, this was one badboy that was a real crowdpleaser. Less sweet than your traditional baked cheesecake, this never-before-tried concoction was the perfect end to the evening, even if the huge slabs we'd greedily all taken defeated us. I now wish I'd taken a second slice for later.
As well as great food, there was great conversation. Despite being all creatives (designers, writers and actors) we covered a lot of ground across politics, entertainment, how to get red wine out of anything (we never quite reached a conclusion) grammar and brothels. As Lucy put it, 'the beauty of being in a rooom of strangers is that you can't fall back on gossip as is so often the way with meals with close friends'. It was a fiery night of real charm and wit and I was sad that it had to end.
Violaine and Anna try and host The Clapton Pot once a month depending on their other commitments. Tickets are first come first served (and free!) and always shouted about on Twitter and other social media. It really inspired me to think more about my dinner party hosting goal, and who knows, maybe you'll find me hosting a Hackney contingent this year.