The trouble with writing a blog that occasionally - just occasionally - mentions food, in passing, once or twice, is that people make certain judgments about your capacity for greed. Recent comments have led me to believe that this is the case with my poor, wronged, misunderstood self; a recent musing on Twitter over which Greek phrases I should learn for my holiday, for example, led to a flurry of replies suggesting that "more please" was really the ONLY phrase I needed. And so I realise, with sinking heart, that no-one in the known universe will believe me when I say that last night I honestly didn't mean to go to the latest meet-up of the Manchester branch of the Clandestine Cake Club. No! It's TRUE! *stamps feet*
At least hear me out. I was having a particularly virtuous day yesterday, having spent the morning slapping emulsion around the house and the afternoon writing a 1500 word article, and had lovingly got some Artisan Meat Company sausages out the freezer to craft into a delicious repast for myself and Mr Liz. All was well until a casual look at Twitter suggested growing excitement over a cake meet at Chorlton's North Star Deli (a venue I have practically lived at, it seems, for the last few weeks); a cake meet from which I was cruelly excluded. For you see, Clandestine Cake Club is for people who are good at making cake, the idea being you sign up, make your cake, take it along to that month's venue, make polite conversation for three minutes, then eat all the other cakes - preferably without using your hands (OK, I may have made that last bit up). I am a poor cake maker, unwilling to bother with things that require weighing, measuring and timing, and felt I would perhaps be ostracised if I turned up with a nice pot of tapenade or a few meatballs and tried to pass them off as cake (although I might still try this at a future meet). I was resigned to a quiet, cake-free night at home.
Au contraire! A small bout of foot-stamping later and I was going, swept up in the generosity of Twitter and smuggled in the back-door entrance of being a "plus one", i.e. a good-for-nothing ligger allowed to turn up empty-handed as a guest - hurrah!
*realises may still be on slight sugar high and adjusts excitement levels*
Manchester is clearly a city that loves its cakes; last night's meeting was only the second to take place here, but the deli was packed to the rafters with lovely ladies clutching magnificent confections that - in some cases - had been bravely carried across Manchester on public transport. As an entirely, ahem, disinterested bystander, I can offer the following observations:
1. Manchester men folk either cannot bake, or are entirely frightened by the thought of being trapped in an enclosed space with a large number of sugar-filled ladies, for there was nary a man to be seen - rectify this please, Manchester Men, and get your pinnies on forthwith.
2. The best cake in the world is something called a Mojito cake. Out of all the cakes (and I think there must have been about twenty of 'em - some of them are pictured below BEFORE we got our hands on them), this was my favourite by a country mile; I asked clever Kate for the recipe, and can pass on the helpful information that she said something about icing sugar and limes, and then laughed a lot about my failure to get to the Cheese Festival the other week.
3. Anyone planning to attend one of these cake meets should not, repeat NOT, consume a plate of sausages one hour before kick off.
4. Anyone planning to attend one of these cake meets, especially one who may or may not have consumed a plate of sausages one hour before kick off, should fill their bag with Tupperware so that they may take cake home with them when they start to feel a bit sick and can eat no more.
5. Anyone who takes cake away in Tupperware but has a hungry, neglected husband at home should be aware that the hungry, neglected husband will spot the wide-eyed delirium that accompanies too much sugar in certain women and grab the Tupperware off her for her own safety. He will then sit downstairs and bravely defuse the situation while people with sugar headaches go quietly to bed; his favourite so far is the 99 Cake, although he has trotted off to work today clutching more Tupperware.
You can find out more details about the Clandestine Cake Club on their website, and book future places through Gwyneth, the marvellous Manchester organiser. Venues, dates and themes will vary from month to month, although the general theme - nice people sitting eating cake - will presumably remain constant. So thank you, cake makers, for kindly sharing your goodies, and thank you Deanna for taking heed of my tantrum and proving that ill-behaviour really does pay off. I will leave you with an image of one of the Tupperwares (NOT mine) about to leave the building: if you have EVER seen a finer party bag than this, I want to know where.