How I miss a fancy party.
Mind you, I do have a few complaints about that mass catering style of finger food.
Namely that there always seems to be fishy canapés, so you have to do your hobnobbing with breath like a slowly decomposing whale. Also, waiting staff always sense my Pepé Le Pew-esque desperation.
“Ah, my little darling, it is love at first sight, is it not, no?”
Even if I position myself outside the kitchen, they’ll find a way to bypass me, even if it means crawling commando style across the floor.
How naive, they truly underestimate me.
I always get my (I’ll take two, thanks, and a napkin) haggis bonbons.
Also, an event isn’t complete without spending half your time trying to dispose of the toothpick or tiny ceramic spoon. Secrete it in your sock, I say.
Hickory is an Edinburgh-based events catering company that usually looks after weddings, as well as corporate events and parties at their upmarket partner venues like Culzean Castle or Kinross House.
I’m sure they own billions of those spoons.
While events are thin on the ground, they’ve set up Hickory@Home, which delivers to your casa on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, if you live within most Edinburgh or East Lothian postcodes.
As they understand the logistics of transporting food, we were expecting zero congealing or oxidisation, no sloshing or collapsing.
The Hickory van pulled up outside our house, a box was deposited, and a staff member hung around a couple of metres away, in case we had any questions. We gave them the universal “we’re fine” salute as everything appeared to be present.
All swaddled in a paper wrap, like a burrito, there was potato bread to start. Once warmed, it was squishy and steamy like a hot shammy, and there was a pot of paprika-dusted whipped roe and a smoked celeriac dip. We could only eat half, since this was more nap-inducing than a valerian tablet with a cocoa chaser.
The snack course – a small shot of ginger and cucumber gazpacho with nuggets of strawberry and pine nut sofrito at the bottom of the tub – was a palate cleansing, summery affair. It came with beetroot and homemade ricotta Oreos, which featured black sandwich parts and pink innards. I’m not a fan of the US biscuit, but I liked this cheesy savoury take.
Our starter didn’t need much DIY-ing either. There was zingy agrodolce fennel and lemon jam to drizzle on top of the pot of cold, mosaic-like and thinly sliced octopus tentacle, which was dotted by bouncy broad beans and burnished cherry tomatoes.
When it came to the main course, we had the radio on and hoped that James Brown, Octopus’s Garden or even Under the Sea, might come on as we slid our whole roast Scottish sole out of the oven. But, no, it was Radiohead. We just switched it off so we could enjoy Mr Fish in a jolly mood, without having to worry about creeps and weirdos. The tray went in the middle of the table, and his soft flesh was squished with lemon juice and a caper dressing.
We stripped the bones bare, then flipped him over and noshed the undercarriage, all while finishing up the wine – a crisp Roquemoliere Picpoul de Pinet Reserve.
There were also side dishes of warm new potato salad with watercress and nettle and garlic dressing, raw marinated courgette crudo scattered with pine nuts and dill, as well as charred broccoli. They do not spare the veggies.
There’s no plating up with pudding, which consisted of two yogurt and sea buckthorn panna cottas. These were quite solid, and orange on top, creamy-coloured the rest of the way down, like the Milky Bar Kid. Both of them were on crumbled ginger biscuit crannogs and came with dollops of sea buckthorn curd and tiny lemon thyme meringues.
All rather lovely, and, as anticipated, it was all beautifully designed and well considered. Nothing had gone soggy, mushy, squelchy or stale.
Most importantly, there was no waiting staff for me to ambush (or any toothpicks in my sock). n
Set Menu with Wine for two, £65 0131-287 0530, www.hickoryfood.co.uk