"Mm oh yeah,what a night", and team Casa Rosada played an away game!!!
It all began two and half months ago. I got a call from Andrew and Else, friends who manage villas.They had a proposition. An outside catering job in one of their villas.
Friday May 7th
We meet them for a drink at Porto Seguro, Joao´s bar in the Praia Verde resort. Joao , a native Braz ilian makes a mean caipirinha. This national cocktail of Brazil contains fruit, sugar and cachaca, also known here in Portugal as aguardente.Unbeknown to us Else went to the bar and ordered a second round. It was 8.pm low season and poor old Joao and Carole his wife had their coats on ready to close up. I found myself unsteady on my feet and wasn´t going to attempt driving the car even a short distance without some sustenance. Joao and Carole bless them proceeded to rustle up a familial dinner of prawns and garlic. I passed on the bottle of wine that was put on the table to accompany it....
To cater a set dinner for ten women as part of a hen night celebration. Andrew assured us they were sophisticated clients, and not any old Club 18-30 malarkey. We agreed on a budget of €30 a head to include 1 bottle of wine per person.
Tuesday 11th May
Two menus composed and sent to Andrew for him to forward to the client.No vegetarians and no dietary requirements.
I had an inkling...." There may be trouble ahead".......
Tuesday 22nd June
Menus returned through Andrew. The client had ignored the request to choose one of the two menus, table d'hote style and decided to read it as an a la carte menu. Her order -
10 tapas starters
3 Roasted quail with ras al hanout cous cous and Moroccan carrot puree
3 Grilled lemongrass tenderloin of pork with ginger noodles
4 poached salmon and 3 bean salad with tomato basil and anchovy dressing
1o chocolate and brandy Bolo de bolacha maria ( portuguese cookie cake )
Thursday 24th June
Meet again with Andrew and Else at a networking menu tasting evening. They said they themselves had understood my table d´hote option quite clearly. I decide that I will proceed and cook three different main courses , in the light of the salmon being ordered by four people and the fact that the dish was cold, so could be prepared in advance and assembled at the villa. I took a bet with Andrew that they hadn´t realised the poached salmon would be a cold dish.
Friday July 9th
Site visit to the villa. Make notes. Everything in order.
It´ll be alright on the night!!!!
Monday July 19th
Return home (with stonking hangover after staying overnight at friends house,
as a result of a marathon celebration of my birthday the day before) to find email and phone message from Andrew informing us of client having asked him if we could cater breakfast and a barbecue lunch as well as dinner on Saturday!! The answer was NO. How could I shop, prepare and cook three course dinner for 10 if I was otherwise occupied in the villa all day?- However we said we would do a simple breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, coffe and juice,but absoutely not lunch.
Thursday July 22nd
client changes their mind again. Doesn't want breakfast or lunch now.
Saturday July 24th
8.00am - shopping in the market, butcher and fish stall. Home and relieved that we were not catering until the evening, so whole day ahead for prepping at ones own pace. What else could go wrong?!!!! - The arranged time for us to pitch up at the villa was 5.30, to set the table, organise the kitchen and get ready for the clients to sit down at 7.30.
Receive a call from Andrew at 1.30 to say the client now wanted to have dinner at 10.00 pm so would it be alright if we arrived at 8.00. No problem. Allowed time in the schedule for afternoon nap!!!
7.00pm - Showered, changed and packed the car up.
7.40pm - Set off a little hesitantly. No conversation between us on the ten minute journey!!!!
7.50pm -Arrive at the villa, Andrew and Else waiting outside for us. Unpack the car and install ouselves in kitchen amidst flurry of hens introducing themselves in Kaftans, beach towels and bikinis. Rap music blasting so loud it was making even the hen nite banners on the wall swing. Hens continue drinking. This is going to be no "dinner with gershwin." Set about cleaning kitchen , while Andrew transforms the back terrace from nothing to romantically lit dinner area.
9.00pm- two hens, dressed for more than dinner, plonk themselves on sofas in the open plan kitchen living area.
They inform us they are hungry and is the food ready. Our answer - Ready when you are. They become impatient with the rest of their party, who are still showering and doing beauty playground. Meanwhile I´m having kittens as every 10 minutes the power keeps blowing and plunging us into darkness, Not only that but the oven I´m trying to get to 180º
keeps zeroing itself every time the power fuses!!!- It was due to the air conditioning overloading the system when it was competing with the oven and extremely powerful extractor fan. Andrew finally turns it off, only for a hen to switch it on again.
10.00pm- I put the quail in the oven regardless. The high decibels of Whitney Houston, are now seriously testing my concentration.
10.10pm- 9 glamorous hens (They failed to tell us that one member of the party had dropped out) finally fall into their seats at the dinner table and start on the tapas. We have now decided we quite like them!!!While i´m cooking the main course one of the hens comes into the kitchen to get a bottle of hot sauce from the cupboard. - I am speechless.
10.30pm- we serve the main course- They ask Andrew why the salmon is cold. Andrew explains to them that poached salmon is normally served that way. - What did I say earlier? None of them can remember what dish they had ordered. The majority of the main courses were not eaten, so they were packed up in tupperware containers and put in the fridge. It materialised they had gone to the open air night club on Friday night and not returned home till 7am. If we had turned up with breakfast, as was once on the cards nobody would have been home. They had decided at 3.00pm to have a barbecue. So when it came to dinner and with 24 hours of high alcohol consumption behind them, all these lovely hens wanted was a few grains of corn perhaps. I should of made a bowl popcorn for the main course.
11.15pm - Even though they couldn´t eat their main courses, they were eager to be served the chocolate dessert. That´s girls for you!!!- not a morsel left, they had even devoured the orange garnish
12.10am- our job is done, order is restored in the kitchen and we bade the hens good night and a fond farewell!!!