Monday 2 March 2009

Underground Mexico

Blogger's acting up, hence a rather tardy round-up of Sat night. Which was brilliant. I want Sat nights like that all the time and I loved that I had a choc-mobile to add to the mix. I arrived fresh from a slightly harrowing dodgeball tournament in Hammersmith and then went bump-bump-bumping over the endless suburban humps en route. Found the road, just wasn't sure of the house. 'Ms Marmite!' I cried down the handsfree, 'where the heck's your driveway?'. Busy dealing with her false eyelashes she dispatched her Goth, doll-like daughter to call me in to the narrow space. It wasn't the most dynamic call-in ever - the daughter stood awkward and sullen with no clear idea of what she was doing out there - but eventually we squeezed through and I was taken into the heart of Underground Restaurant HQ.

It was a bit like Kilburn's answer to Rocky Horror. There was the sister all corsets and high-heels, her ample boobs practically meeting her chin, an almost permanent twinkle in her eye. And Johnny, the Australian 'front of house' - ginger quiff, piercings through nose, mouth, eyebrow(?) etc, sharp in black, total dude. Then Helen, the food blogger who really wanted to get involved. The daughter lurked in the background, the epitomy of anti-waitressing whilst Ms Marmite Lover bustled out resplendent in black cocktail frock, super-high wedges and a broderie Anglaise Victorian pinnie.

I felt right at home.

My friend Charlie had introduced me to MML a few weeks back and we quickly concocted a plan to bring the choc van along to one of her secret suppers. The theme was to be Mexican so I came up with a spiced chocolate mousse laced with a chilli syrup for the occasion. I made most of it in advance but needed to finish it off on arrival, so after plugging in through the bedroom window I tottered out in my stilettos and got to work.

'What are you doing in there' asked some passer-by. He pressed his face up against the back window of the van to see me surrounded by choc mousses, enveiled in lurid pink and pulsing rope light combo. 'Oh you know, just stirring it up' I replied and he backed away with an amazed grin on his face. I was then ushered into the house where a place had been set for me in the 'restaurant'. I grabbed a margarita (very tangy) and joined my table.

The whole room was chattering away animatedly - around 20 guests all thrilled to be doing something different with their evenings; what a relief - we can talk to one another! The constraints of decorum kaput, chair hopping and glass sharing ahoy! At each table were salsa and chips - corn & mango, tomato and my favourite, the guacamole. Joder! this woman can season! It was a really tasty one - in fact the best I've had in London. I dug in lasciviously.

Meanwhile in the kitchen things were kind of hectic. I went in to chat and could barely see anyone for the smoke that was engulfing the place. I felt my way past the hanging undies and bottles of wine to the Aga where I found MML griddling the tortillas for all she was worth. Real blue corn tortillas to be served with the chili sin carne, stuffed, baked jalapeƱos, rice and sour cream. Eventually, buoyed on by a few more swigs of margarita, she was ready to serve. Table by table, each of us pounced on our plates most heartily. More wine got ordered, more people swapped places and then seconds got dolled up.

Finally came the moment for pud. I got into position behind the counter, grabbed the bottle of chocolate martini mix I'd been chilling in the freezer and furnished each of the guests with a mousse and a shot - perhaps a small tour of the van for those who were really keen - and away they went, back into the hub and all the perkier for it.

After coffee, cognac and more getting to know one another (Gronya with the YSL coat from eBay! Spike with the Pekham chocolate shop suggestion! The festi-loving couple who'd visited us at Bestival!) they all trooped off and home. We, the 'staff', then gathered round the Aga for a cognac-tinged 'wash-up' meeting spearheaded by Johnny. I was on the edge-of-my-seat rivetted by his ideas, MML and sister were shattered but happy and the daughter interjected with the occasional correction to Johnny's French.

In the end MML lost her voice, Johnny cycled home and I went to bed amidst the Underground Restaurant debris...a great night that I hope continues really successfully for them all.


William Leigh said...

sounds fab, and love you banter x

kerstin said...

Laugh out loud literally.
Rocky horror show in Kilburn. You didn't do badly yourself with your red stilletos!
Come again whenever

emekonnen said...

Hi Petra,
It was nice meeting you @ Borders while reading that book on Mon 9 2009. And I'm impressed by your work, especially your blog. Keep it up and will email you my detail a.s.a.p.
Cheers Ermiyas