Diana and Christopher

The Cook, the thief, his wife and her lover

Those of you who remember this legendary film may be wondering just what bit of it resembled our chic cooking event…but bear with me.  The movie is about an eccentric banquet in a London restaurant over the (was it 3 or 4?) course of which our blonde heroine (played, unforgettably, by the iconic Helen Mirren) morphs from submissive wife to daring lover (and yes she probably did take her clothes off.)  Peter Greenaway’s film is a sumptuous display of artistic genius:  he uses a different colour scheme for each locale –  red for the dining room, white for the bathrooms –  with the characters’ costumes changing colour as they move from one to the other.

If we were to make a movie of our Cooking up a Storm event  it would star another iconic blond – gorgeous and eccentric Diana Horsford.  She’s even more creative than a Peter Greenaway film and certainly the menu we cooked was a feast for the eyes.

We all piled into the warm haven of the Avenue cookery school in Putney and were welcomed with a delicious glass of Crémant de Limoux Cuvée from the place in the Languedoc that invented sparkling wine – before Champagne – and gave us the word limousine.   What a treat to have ex-Christies head of wine Christopher Burr as our wine expert for the night.  Diana lined us up to watch her neatly assemble Thai salmon parcels, aided by handsome and eligible Tom (see pics). Next up was a gentle folding together of lemon possets and a ridiculously simple assembling of lavender biscuits direct to freezoir.  Christopher dispensed with a glass or two of Macon Villages meant for the wine tasting; couldn’t have us lot being thirsty…

Diana and TomLou & Babs Lou & Chris

Divided into groups, we all got to work, chopping and assembling our creations as directed ,with a general enthusiasm that belied the fact that some of us had yet to progress past egg boiling. All went swimmingly and by 9pm we were ready to get stuck into our appetising creations. Christopher took us through a tasting which included discussing the differences between two chardonnays: the aristocratically titled Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard Macon-Villages and an earthier-sounding Heggies Eden Valley from Australia. Some of us were clearly not afraid of voicing our opinions, which proved to be sharply divided. En garde!

Our utterly wonderful Thai salmon parcels on a colourful bed of stir fried vegetables tasted as divine as they looked, notwithstanding the fact that I could see my chunky disorderly vegetables protruding from my surveyor friend’s precision-engineered ones – sorry Diana my chopping skills need work!  Christopher’s pairing of this course with an amazing  Gewurztraminer Tradition Cave de Turckheim exemplified his genius.

With dessert on its way he then played a game with us – a blind tasting where we had to answer the following questions: a) Warm or cool climate?  b) Very young wine, or matured? c) One varietal or more (simple or complex)? d) Use of oak?  e)  Where and what? Our candidate for consideration proved to be a delicious Rioja Muga, which none of us got spot on, but we got close, very close.  I wonder if I might be allowed on your Wotwine? app tasting team Christopher? I do have a lot of experience…

We downed the lemon posset and lavender biscuits with an elegant Moscato d’Asti, which I always love to drink at the end of a meal – being only 5% ABV it’s almost like drinking water…truly!  Then it was time to say good bye to our wonderful hosts.  Christopher, the perfect yin to Diana’s creative yang. We hope you’ll have us back again.

A word to the wise: if any of you have children home over the Easter holidays, Diana runs wonderful classes for those going off to university or for a chalet season.  Having your own well trained kitchen ‘slaves’ has to be a worthwhile investment.

lemon pots at Avenue Cookery School

Food and Wine – The language of love

A night to look forward to for Rendezvous singles in my kitchen for a night of cooking. We are cooking up a fabulous flirty two course meal. With the right partner beside you, cooking and preparing a meal together is the ultimate turn on. The language of preparing food is sumptuous: sizzle, melt, percolate, coddle, fold and stir.

The main course is light and appealing, Thai salmon parcels; salmon enjoys a rich history as a natural aphrodisiac, the fish that is a sexual powerhouse. An excellent source of protein – essential for stamina – salmon is also loaded with omega 3’s, that elevate serotonin levels in the brain and thereby enhance mood. Vitamin rich, with a large hit of A, D, B and calcium, great for giving the all-important libido lift. The exotic Thai spices will be evocative of beaches and sunshine.

Lemon pots with rosemary, the romance-infused herb, it amuses all of the senses with its dreamy perfume, perfect for tickling and its intense flavour and comforting aromas are unforgettable. And perhaps, used at the end of this meal, it may be the right time and maybe the right person, rosemary may find you love.

Wine is also clearly held in high regard as a prelude to romance. That’s why we have my friend charismatic ex-Christie’s Head of Wine, Christopher Burr MW taking us on a journey of affordable alcoholic aphrodisiacs.

I can’t wait to meet lots of you in my kitchen and share all the incredible tips for cooking up a meal that may well become the one that starts something very special.

Until the 15th

Diana x

Tom & Tonics at Bar20

Tom & Tonics at Bar20; a taste tickling Tuesday tonic

What’s in a name?   I’ve banged on about name badges enough and you’ll be pleased to know that for our Rendezvous Club events, the gloves are off….well at least the name badges are.

The inspiration for our Gin event popped up during a rainy Tuesday chat.  What’s not to like about Gin & Tonic we asked after the first gin….Gin & Train sets – nope too Rod Stewart,  Gin & Tolstoy …too War & Peace, what about Gin & Tuesdays?  Tuesday is such a perky day of the week. I soon progressed to Gin & the City after adding Bar20 as the venue and after we joined forces with Thomas Dakin the event became Tom & Tonics.  What’s in a name; rather a lot of fun…actually.

So on this perky Tuesday, thirty Rendezvous Club members and their friends either took a stroll from their City-based offices or drove across town for our first City event, our first Gin event and our second badges-off event.

Rendezvous Club encourages brands to directly engage with our discerning members and we were lucky enough to get hold of Alix Walker, the charasmatic gin curator responsible for the brand new Thomas Dakin gin to give our Members a talk about all things gin. Alix talked us through the gin itself, its inspiration and, of course, the perfect serve.


Dakin’s botanicals are intriguing whilst being very traditional; there are eleven in total with three of them remaining the Master Distiller’s secret: juniper, English coriander seeds, orange peel, grapefruit, cubebs, liquorice root, angelica and, rather uniquely, red cole (horseradish.) Making it almost more authentically British than Dakin’s original gin (Thomas Dakin (the man) was an 18th century entrepreneur and the forefather of quality English gin.  An incredibly moreish gin with a fantastic history!


Other history-forming events from that night included one of our more dapper looking guests having his Instragram account and blog created by one our digital media savvy ladies.  Rather pleased he was that his photographs were already being liked by a very stylish following.  So pleased, he seemed to be keeping the rest of us, post-Gin tasting propped up on Cosmopolitans. Bar20s bar team including the appropriately skilled Max and Mariusz, seemed to just go with the flow as the noise level from our crowd got bigger.  The bar staff could hardly escape us wearing Thomas Dakin red aprons!

And if you want to recreate your own Gin event and connect your own reference with a T for Tonic here’s how Thomas Dakin suggest you make the modern masterpiece with a twist.  See you again soon.

How to serve the perfect Tom & Tonic

50ml Thomas Dakin gin
125ml premium quality tonic.  Fever-Tree Mediterranean or Indian.
A twist of orange peel to finish.