Note #27 // An evening with Jamie Oliver (Well, sort of)

On Saturday night, I treated Ben to a night at Recipease in Clapham Junction. It's a place that we came across on one of our many random walks around London. The brainchild of Jamie Oliver, it is yet another innovative addition to his culinary emporium.

Recipease is a little food hub of dreams for a foodie like me. It can boast that it is a shop, cafe, eatery and cookery school all at the same time. And it's just my kind of place, regardless of the cooking lessons - a treasure trove of kitchenware that I didn't know I needed until I saw it with tantalisingly beautiful displays of cookbooks, jams, rubs and marinades all up for grabs.

We attended the Vietnamese Street food session, where we made Vietnamese pork balls, prawn summer rolls, pho (noodle soup) with fillet of beef and a traditional dipping sauce. It was seriously all hands on deck, as the only thing that had been pre-made for us was the stock for the pho.

Each lesson is two hours long. We spent an hour and ten minutes watching our master chef at work, smelling and tasting the ingredients we would be using, getting a little bit of background knowledge about the cuisine and finally, giving it a go ourselves. We sliced and diced, gave the mortar and pestle a right bashing to make our own sweet spicy paste to season the pork and filled and wrapped our own summer rolls. As it was so hands on, it wasn't really conducive to taking photos for a blog post, which is a shame, but as you can see from below, what we made actually looks like the photo! Well impressed!

We then spent about half an hour devouring our meal and the remainder of the time pottering around the shop, where you get 10% off any purchases made on the night of your class. We also got an email the same night thanking us for coming, giving us the PDF copy of all of the recipes that we made that night and asking for any feedback on the session.

In my mind, the night was carried off flawlessly. It was relaxed, well organised and fun and your first glass of vino, beer or juice is 'on Jamie.' The ingredients used were of a high standard and the chef teaching us was passionate about her job, clear and helpful.

At £35 a head, it was expensive, but since moving back in with my nan it has precisely been my aim to be able to do more things like this. I may no longer have the luxury of my own space, but I think it's a fair trade off to be able to feel as though I am working to live, instead of living to work. There are, however, ways to bring the cost down. You save £5 per session if you come with a friend (£40 solo reduces to £35 each if there are two of you), or you can get 25% off of the marked price if you attend their off peak lessons.

Currently, there are two outlets of Recipease (Clapham Junction, London and Brighton), but we were told  that they are opening an even bigger and better outlet in Notting Hill pretty soon. I can guarantee that I will be back for more pretty soon as the lessons on offer change periodically and there are some great seasonal lesson that I would like to give a go. I feel compelled to get back there soon to buy some more of the chocolate melts and pecan & pumpkin seed cookies we bought for a midnight treat too. And I'd also quite like to try out an item (or four) from the breakfast menu.

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