New Years Eve at Fawlty Towers

Regular readers of this blog may be aware of the traditional New Years Eve fireworks display at the inn.
I'm must confess to being a tad nervous about the wisdom of the whole operation, this year in particular the warning klaxon was deafeningly loud following Chefs return from the annual Christmas Eve trip to the fireworks wholesaler.
Seemingly, fireworks are graded with each additional point denoting an increase in explosive quality.My attention was drawn to one particular box which I was informed had it been 'one point higher' would be 'classed as munitions'.
The wholesaler(eyes gleaming) informing Chef that it would be 'like Beirut over *small market town* once that one goes off' and could he let him know how it went??
Anyway first things first:

Yours truly was in charge of puddings and Petit Threes.
The Pear and chocolate trifle took THREE Days to make.Well,not three entire days,the whole thing was made in stages over the course of three days obvs..
Pear jelly

Which set the pears poached in Calvados perfectly,despite the  copious amount of pear cider I added to the mix..

There was a slight worry concerning fridge space with every available orifice packed to the rafters in preparation for the biggest night of the year.
Chef had the bright idea that we'd pack the trifle glasses back into boxes and stack them up in one of the dessert fridges.
I required 52 trifles,10 diners having opted out and requested ice cream instead.
The glasses came in boxes of six so erring on the side of caution I went ahead and made 54=nine boxes.
I diligently counted and recounted them.
Come the night and with two tables left to go,I noted I was left with only 7 trifles.With a table of seven and a two, my razor sharp mathematical skills alerted me to the shortage...
No I cant be(frantically recounting),I definitely made 54....
There must be some left in the fridge..
There were none.Increasingly panicked I extended my search to further fridges,finally the missing box of trifles being located on the top shelf of the veg fridge.
The Apprentice having moved the box to accommodate his own prep work.(Every Chef will sympathise here,there's a constant kitchen battle for bench/stove/fridge space)
We all breathed a huge sigh of relief.Just the last minute vanilla cream and decoration to pipe onto the required two trifles and we were on the home straight.

I opened the box.
What The Apprentice had failed to mention was at which point in the preparation process he had taken the decision to transfer the box to its alternative location.
Which had in fact been two days prior...
If there's two things fundamental(and non negotiable) to a Pear and Chocolate trifle its pears and chocolate.These six were clearly lacking,in fact completely devoid in the chocolate department,having been rudely shifted following the addition of the vanilla custard(note non use of the term Crème Anglais)layer and prior to the chocolate sauce layer...

Chef was most displeased.
'That's an elementary mistake,not checking and double checking your quantities'
Though on observing my obvious distress and  look of complete devastation quickly countering 'its not the end of the world though...'

There's a code of conduct employed in the catering world on occasions such as this.
If you make a mistake and are lacking in a particular ingredient/component of a dish,what you have to do is make sure that all the dishes on each table look exactly the same.The same applies with glassware, cutlery etc,each complete table must look the same despite perhaps being different to the surrounding tables.
With nine guests to serve and only seven complete trifles it was obvious the two *different* trifles had to be sent to the table of two,hence leaving seven identical creations for the last remaining table,the seven.
Well, that's the theory anyway...
Completed trifles

This is where things went badly wrong.
In my guilt, I decided to compensate the two diners for the lack of a chocolate sauce layer,by being overly liberal with the chocolate squiggles and pear crisps which I'd made to decorate.By the time Id finished with these two they were the Katie Price and Peter Andre(on their wedding day no less...) of the pudding world.Its a good job Chef hadn't brought sparklers back from the wholesalers..
This had the opposite effect of drawing attention to the trifles rather than allowing them to blend in with the ones which had already been served to the other diners.
To compound matters,would you believe the two on the brunt of the pudding fiasco happened to be possibly the only teetotallers out on New Years Eve?
Furthermore,being fully Compos Mentis due to the lack of the benefit of even a whisker of an alcoholic beverage,and being the last but one table to be served,these two had fully enjoyed the opportunity of witnessing the rest of the diners being served with their puds and having ample time to take in the attributes of said pudding in its full glory.
Presently,news filtered back to the kitchen that Hercule Poirot and his missus were holding the offending trifles up to the light,brows furrowed in puzzlement at the lack of a promised (and greatly anticipated) chocolatey saucey indulgent layer.
They sent them back.
As luck would have it, the seven had asked for a brief respite before their puds were served so the seven complete trifles were still lined up and available on the bench.
'Just take two of those' I say despondently.. 'tell them there's been a mistake..'
There was nothing else for it I had to front up to the seven,confess my misdemeanour and offer them a choice of any other puds we had in the fridge.
I cut a sorry figure as I sloped off into the dining room,oven cloth in hand to face my retribution.
Conversely,they opted for the incomplete trifles,the two who were served the sub-standards were later overheard to say 'there's meant to be something missing from these but I cant see what...'

The Petit Threes went off without a hitch.
I cant stand Truffles, they make me want to barf,but I compliantly made 100 of the bleepers for the punters..heavily laden with Grand Marnier..
I always get the shitty jobs..
'You're so impatient' said Chef 'why didn't you wait until it had firmed up,then you wouldn't have been in such a mess??....'
Chef said he could have eaten the Rum and Raisin fudge until he was sick.
I think that's a compliment...
Petit Threes.

Before long it was midnight, fireworks time..
Chef was stationed over at the far side of the green awaiting the shouted 'count down' which in fact served two purposes:

a.To whip the crowd up into a frenzied anticipation of the promised entertaining display and culmination of the evenings festivities..

b.The signal to light the fuse on the first box,thus heralding a spectacular display to welcome the New Year..

This short film begins immediately after the countdown...please be patient..

'I hope its not a damp squib....'

I told you there was more....

Next year its Sticky Toffee Puddings all round and a couple of Catherine Wheels nailed to the fence...



Susan's blog said…

Very enjoyable reading, and I honestly take my hat off to how hard you all work when the rest of us are resting/partying.

Happy new year, hope its a good one for you. xxx
I wish I'd been there, just for the Roast Pheasant soup if nothing else, plus maybe the fireworks and a truffle or two.

Life in catering seems to fill you full of must be all the cooking wine and brandy!

BTW I hope the Apprentice was given extra washing up to teach him a lesson.
Hi Susan-Thanksx

TSB-There are good days and bad.We do seem to laugh a lot though,Yes perhaps its the fumes..
Young at Heart said…
ooh those trifels do look utterly delicious....just what my post-christmas-feeding-frenzey simple soup lunch is missing!! Happy new year....
Matthew said…
Can you email me the name of your pub? I've been reading your blog for the past hour and the food looks and sounds amazing. My email address is and I'd love to visit.
hi Mathew.Thanks! just regular food though:) Are you in Northumberland?
Matthew said…
Well it looks great for just regular food :)
I am indeed.

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