Chaîne Hospitality Across the Pond
by Judith Mazza, Vice Chargée de Presse of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C. and Chaîne Ambassador
Travel is especially delightful when you have the opportunity to make new friends and be introduced to new experiences. I don’t plan any international travel without carefully checking the Chaîne online calendars of Bailliages that might fit our itinerary. It was our very good fortune that we would be arriving in London City just in time for the “Summer at St. James” event hosted by the London City Bailliage on September 2, 2010. We contacted Bailli Anthony Cox who responded and reminisced that he has had many lovely Chaîne experiences in the United States, and suspected that we probably know people in common. We felt a warm welcome from our confreres before we left home!
The event was being held in the private dining room of the Crowne Plaza, St. James. Chef Brian Henry, Fellow and “Black Hat” of the renowned World Master Chef’s Society, was preparing an innovative dinner emphasizing the use of British ingredients. We were intrigued by his menu, especially since the pairings consisted of English wine. Prior to this dinner, I had not been exposed to English wine. However, as we learned during the dinner from Julia Trustam Eve of the English Wine Producers, global warming has contributed to a growing and robust local wine industry.
Chef Henry’s dinner did not disappoint, with many interesting courses and pairings. Beginning with the Cromer crab panna cotta with pan fried prawn and enoki mushroom salad, we then were treated to a wonderful roasted lamb with a honey and green olive crust. That was served with a baby Haggis! I had not previously tried Haggis, and had heard much about it. This was the ultimate Haggis, delicious and tender. Our dessert of a Penderyn whisky chocolate tart with roasted oat ice cream was quite unusual and provided a lovely end to the meal.
One of the more unusual features of the evening was an innovative seating plan. The entire group was seated at a very large oval table. After every course, the gentlemen rose with wine glass, napkin and name card in hand, and moved two seats clockwise. Each change in seating was accompanied by laughter and much joviality. In this way, we had an opportunity to speak with a variety of people. It made for an unusual, warm, cohesive and most entertaining evening.
Just prior to the coffee and dipped strawberries, I had the privilege of presenting framed certificates from the United States Chaîne to both Bailli Cox and Regional Bailli Maw. They were both pleased to be honored in this way and said that the Ambassador program is a great idea. It would not surprise me if some Bailliages in other countries start to develop their own program.
At the conclusion of the meal, Chef Henry and his staff were greeted with a round of applause in appreciation for their hard work. Sara Crawford, VCA of the London City Bailliage ended the evening by distributing scorpion vodka lollipops to all, after distributing door prizes, awarded by picking names from a basket. We left with great memories and a most unique souvenir!