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Express Yourself


 Tuesday February 23,2010

By Bonnie Estridge

It’s a new phenomenon by which entrepreneurs open temporary firms to make a quick profit

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BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE: Londoners Lucy Harrison and Camilla Webb-Carter with their home-cooked food

IT IS 9pm and two dozen thirty somethings are seated in a Victorian basement flat in Battersea, South-west London, enjoying a lavish meal. Having been greeted at the door with a cocktail, they enjoy a starter of salmon ceviche followed by beef Wellington and whisky ice cream.

The atmosphere is that of a typical dinner party with the hosts rushing around keeping everyone happy. However, all is not quite as it seems. This is the first time any of the guests have been in the flat or even met the hosts for that matter.

They are having a meal at a private home at a location which was not known until a few days previously when the address was announced via the host’s blog on the internet.

So far as the funding for this evening goes, there is no actual bill – hostesses Camilla Webb-Carter, 26, a designer and Lucy Harrison, a 27-year-old teacher, have asked the diners to bring their own wine and make a minimum “donation” of £20 per head.

Debbie Bryan, who sells fashion accessories in Nottingham and Lewis Heath of Glasgow with his headphones

Some might even feel moved to pay more as they are enjoying being patrons of the “pop-up” trend, a phenomenon flourishing during the recession.

The business term “pop-up” applies to a temporary – sometimes as temporary as just one hour – enterprise such as a restaurant, shop or exhibition. The idea is to make money directly from the enterprise or indirectly by generating publicity from it which could draw attention to an existing business which perhaps needs a boost.

For example, the “pop-up restaurant” – as in Camilla and Lucy’s case – may happen only once a month but if the pair are interested in starting their own “real” restaurant this could be an ideal way of testing the water as to how well their cooking is received.

Most useful of all, having the pop-up shop has definitely drawn attention to my business

There are even more transitory – and rather more public pop-up eateries – such as the Patron Silver Reindeer – a temporary restaurant opened by entrepreneurs Pablo Flack and David Waddington. Diners ate inside a hastily assembled huge square box, which appeared in a studio space in Holloway, East London.

Then there was Franks Café & Campari Bar – on the 10th floor of a multistorey car park in Peckham, south London – accessed by ramps as the lift stops at the 6th – where crab on toast, gazpacho and cold grilled lamb were just a few of the delights.

The request for donations to cover costs means that diners are not paying in the formal sense. However being able to cover plenty of “heads” by providing food (and somewhere to eat it) in large vacant spaces means that the entrepreneurial restaurateur can, in theory, make a fantastic living.

Retail is another way in which the pop-up business can flourish and some have benefited from local authority schemes which provide help for individuals who are keen to have a temporary high-street presence which they could otherwise never afford.

Often these pop-ups utilise shops that have been left empty due to businesses that have failed – a facet of high streets that has become depressingly familiar in the recession

With this in mind last year, Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway – who started the Red Or Dead fashion range – came up with the idea of KioskKiosk an innovative standalone metal unit complete with windows and shelves to help small creative businesses get a foot on the ladder at a time when affordable retail space is hard to find.

The first KioskKiosk was opened in London last July and a few months later it “popped up” in Nottingham where Debbie Bryan – who has a business selling fashion accessories – was given the chance to have a temporary shop rent free in the main high street. “I was delighted as it meant that my business would for a short while be in a more high-profile location, ” says 40-year-old Debbie. “The Lace Market is not a prime shopping area, it’s pretty much off the beaten track.

So having the pop-up in the high street really helped by drawing attention to the fact that I also have a permanent business nearby.

“Nottingham City Council let me have the two-square-metre KioskKiosk free – they funded it as part of an initiative to showcase creative talent in the City. I have been in here on and off since October and the opportunity to have a high-street presence has been fantastic.

“Most useful of all, having the pop-up shop has definitely drawn attention to my business and I’m selling more than ever.”

RETAIL guru and TV personality Mary Portas had fantastic success with a pop-up charity shop which opened for just three weeks in London’s Westfield shopping centre. Another star of the fashion world, Lulu Guinness, opened a two week pop-up shop in Carnaby Street to coincide with London Fashion Week and Valentine’s Day thus doing an extremely brisk trade selling a range of lip-shaped collectables including brightly-coloured Perspex clutch-bags at £40 each.

As 27-year-old entrepreneur Lewis Heath admits, pop-ups give you the sort of quick, cheap exposure that all new businesses need.

He’s the founder of Audio Chi which markets premium headphones. Four months ago he was selling online only but felt that he was not getting the attention – nor the sales – that he needed.

So when the chance came up to take a shop for a temporary period in Glasgow’s famous Prince’s Square for a nominal rent he took the opportunity to get his product noticed and took the space as a pop-up shop.

“I signed a short lease from December to January and the idea was to capture the Christmas market. We set up the shop so that people could try out the products and made it so that they could sit down, relax and listen to music. They could buy the headphones if they wanted, but our purpose in having a popup shop was not necessarily to sell the product but to get the brand noticed. People would come in curious to see what was going on and leave knowing about the headphones which would help push our sales online as well as through John Lewis and Harvey Nichols who also stock them.

“The shop was a brilliant way of getting us out there without spending money on advertising or PR and the orders have really been coming in.”

However, Camilla Webb-Carter and Lucy Harrison of Altenburg Kitchen – the Battersea pop-up restaurant – look at their own business in a different way.

“Once or twice a month we open our doors to cook for people who more often than not we have never met before.
“It’s great to be able to do this from home rather than an outside space, it’s far more convenient. We have no ambition to use our evenings as a tool to go on and open a restaurant we simply get a great deal of pleasure out of people enjoying our food.

“We have day jobs, but this is a lovely way of having fun and making pocket money when times are hard.”

For information about KioskKiosk pop-up units, contact 020 8903 1074         020 8903 1074.


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Boy:Girls = 21:1 Grrrrr

If you are a boy and reading this yet STILL  have not sampled the culinary delights of Altenburg Kitchen I think I may have just come up with Altenburg’s trump card over other supper clubs. Last Wednesday we poured 22 cocktails and served up 22 meals for 21 girls and errrrr… 1 boy. How did he cope I hear you mutter, well you can judge for your self…   

Who's the daddy?

So as the bun fight commenced we took cover in the kitchen, spanakopita parcels were up first…


Followed by saffron stuffed shoulder of lamb, with stuffed peppers (excuse all the stuffing), tzatziki and green salad. There is something about stuffed peppers a la Delia which just works so well with lamb, the tomatoes and capers balance out the richness of the lamb and are a refreshing change from the usual meat and 2 veg option.  So if you, like me, are always trying to come up with an alternative to boiled peas and mashed potatoes to go with red meat try these.   

Roast Peppers a la Delia (Serves 4)   

2 Red Peppers

 1 Tin of plum tomatoes   

1 Clove of garlic   

100g Capers   

1 Tin of plum tomatoes   

4 Tbsp olive oil   

4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar       

1 tin of anchovies  

  •  Cut the peppers down the middle and de seed them.  Place them in a well oiled baking tin, skin side down.     
  • In each pepper place one plum tomato, a large spoonful of tomato juice, a pinch of finely chopped garlic, 2 tsps of capers, a sprinkling of black pepper. You can place 2 anchovies over the top however this is optional.  
  • Pour 2 tbsps of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each pepper and place in oven to roast for 35 minutes, removing to spoon juices over peppers every 10 minutes.

Roast Peppers

Things by this point were getting fairly passionate in the sitting room, competition for conversation with the alpha-male was heated to say the least, bread rolls were being lobbed at possible competition,  clothes were getting scarce, offers of marriage were being slung about as if it was a Thai bride wedding convention. Did I ever mention I like to ‘fruit’ up a story? A good old heart-warming pudding was needed to get the party really started, if you EVER need a pudding to worm your way to a man/ women’s ‘heart’ this has got to be the answer.          

White Chocolate Waffle pudding (Serves 6-8)         

14 Waffles 

300g Raspberries (you can use frozen) 

200g White chocolate 

55g Caster sugar 

1 tbsp Flour 

3 Eggs 

1 Tsp Lemon rind 

1 Tsp Vanilla extract 

500 ml Double cream 

2 Tbsp Icing sugar

  • Set the oven to 170 c/ 325F/ Gas 3
  • Butter an ovenproof dish. Break up waffles into mouth size pieces and place half of them into the dish topped by half the raspberries, ½ the choc (broken up also)    
  • Repeat layers     
  •  Whisk sugar, flour, eggs, lemon rind, vanilla and cream – Pour over the waffles and set aside for 10 mins.    
  • Bake for 35 mins, until golden.      
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve.     

White Choc Waffle Pudding


And there you have it, knowledge of the where-abouts of the gentleman in question is still unknown, he was last seen being chased out the front door by 21 woman covered in white chocolate waffle pudding.   

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Belated Burns

Sir Robbie Burns himself







Burns supper at Altenburg Kitchen was a feast for the eyes, Charlie Nelson, foodie extraordinaire  joined us to create a feast Mr Burns would have been proud of.  Charlie having worked under many a chef was under no illusion of a simple Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties (a meal that has in the past conjured up visions of a giant plate of baby food).  Oh no, this was was to be Burns with  a twist, an experimental Blumenthal one at that.   

The evening kicked off with Rosie the photographer on a mission to grab some ‘relaxed’ shots of Camilla and I slicing and dicing in the kitchen for a piece in The Daily Express on underground restaurants. I don’t know what it is but as soon as a lens is put within a 100m radius of either us, panic and desperation strikes, sweats breaks out and a worrying shade of red descends across our panic-striken faces. After a lot of awkward pretend cooking of Charlie’s beautifully prepared dishes it was onto the best part – the eating. 

Service with a smile!

Starter was salmon ceviche with a lime, chilli, caper and coriander dressing.  When Charlie had mentioned salmon Ceviche we realised that a Billingsgate adventure was on the cards, however with both of us working during the day and miles away from Billingsgate we were not looking forward to trekking there at an eye watering 5 am. Enter Marky Market, our fantastic new find who does the trekking and price wrangling at both Billingsgate and Smithfield markets and then delivers his bounty to your front door… long live Marky Market!      

Salmon ceviche with lime, chilli, caper and coriander dressing

As the ceviche was cleared and the odd diner sloped out the back for a sly fag an odd noise was heard from one of the bedrooms, it steadily grew, guests started to look nervous when suddenly our very own Altenburg piper emerged…glowing!       

Jock the piper

Piper appreciation

As Jock the piper piped away some merry tunes we  hurried away at assembling the haggis millefuille made up of rosti, haggis, pomme purée, bashed neeps, stir fried greens and wiskey and onion cream, my mouth is watering again, I think I just dribbled on my key pad.  With 25 plates to serve up, the heat was on and the photographer was serving, so after all Charlie’s hard work we have no pictures for you to salivate over, trust me Robbie B would have been chuffed to bits.  

Rosti concentration

And so it was onto the pudding, with no batter in sight until now it was time to make its entry, deep fried Celebrations were on the menu with whisky ice-cream and home-made shortbread, good-bye calorie counter. 


Deep-fried Celebraions

Whisky ice cream


By the time pudding was rounded the corner the piping and whisky had certainly started to take it’s toll.  Tables were pushed aside and Altenburg Kitchen’s version of dancing with the stars Scottish-style erupted…       

Team Burns

 at 3 am we finally said good-bye to the piper and the chef of the hour….      

Le chef  

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Anyone for a twitter?

First it was a Facebook page – this was shut down by Facebook due to ‘excessive use of marketing’ and took 2 weeks to restore.

Then it was a blog – a near break down and 20 forgotten passwords later we finally made it.

Now it is Twitter – yes we are technofreaking genius’! If anyone wants to follow us and keep up to date on ground breaking supper club tweets then please do

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Oink Oink

I don’t know if you have noticed but with the onset of the recession it seems more and more things have been going back to their roots this Christmas. Kirsty Allsop has been telling us how to blow her Christmas ball balls and every chef on TV has been telling us how to knock up the most traditional of Christmas meals. For me, going back to basics cookery wise is using cheap cuts of meat, cuts that are now ignored despite their flavour and great value. So last Wednesday at Altenburg Kitchen it was out with the fillet and in with head… pig’s head terrine was on the menu.

Pig’s head terrine is probably conjuring up some rather dodgy visuals.  I won’t lie, the beginning process is not for the feint hearted (and if you don’t want to see piggy bits then it is best not to look much further). Our fantastic butcher  provided us with some top notch ingredients.

Ears, snouts, cheeks, tongues and trotters

Trotters et al were then cleaned and boiled with carrots, celeriac, leeks and onions until the meat was tender.  The meat was then stripped from the assorted pieces and left to cool and then chopped and diced along with a selection of herbs and shallots.

Piggy boiler

Sliced and diced

Taking shape

 The meat was then placed in a terrine dish along with the reduced juices from its stock in order to make it set.  We decided to make onion marmalade to go with it but made it with slightly tarter than usual in order to balance the richness of the terrine and just to top it off we baked some bread to take it right back to basics.

Pigs head terrine with onion marmalade and cornichons

And so there it is our pig’s head terrine in all it’s splendour.   It left us with a great sense of achievement, we had managed to use parts of the pig which otherwise would normally have been discarded and gone to waste and with a few tweaks here and there it even managed to taste rather good!

We’re off now to enjoy the delights of other people’s kitchens over Christmas which will hopefully give us some well earned culinary rest. In the mean time we hope you have some fantastic festive feasting and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.


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