One night last week, there were no less than eight events happening on the same night – and those events can be anything from book launches to new product launches, to dinners celebrating the cuisine of a particular country, to restaurant openings. Running shoes to get from event to event: an advantage. If for no other reason than burning off the calorie overload!
Last night I determined to fit in two things: Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off, was launching his second book since being in the baking spotlight. The book is called Say It With Cake (Kyle, £18.99) and it's a gem – joining many other significant baking books new on the shelves this autumn (Sybil Kapoor's magnificent Simply Baking and Annie Bell's Baking Bible to name but two).
As I chatted to Edd ('master of the macaroon', as one swooning fan described him as she passed by last night), I asked him what a former Bake Off winner does two years on – apart from writing books. Edd told me he's recently started baking and selling cakes at the hot food destination Maltby Street, near London Bridge, where traders sell their delicious wares tucked away under the railway arches. Edd's Maltby Street offerings are homely bakes such as cinnamon buns and biscuits. Could be worth a visit on a chill-some October Saturday morning (the market is open from 9am–2pm, Saturdays only).
After Edd's launch, I scooted around the corner to Atul Kochhar's Benares restaurant, where Atul has invited a series of guest chefs, for two weeks each, to create menus in the bar. First up was 2012 MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo, followed by tapas master (and delicious. magazine favourite) Jose Pizarro, and for the past two weeks the 2010 MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker has been working his spicy magic in the Benares kitchen.
I'm eager for Dhruv to open his first restaurant (must be soon!), but in the meantime a temporary haunt will have to do. You can get three sharing dishes for £21 and I have to say the crisp-fried aubergine on a bed of spicy-savoury puree was one of the best things I've tasted in a long time. Tomorrow night is the last night, so catch Dhruv while you can