There I was, sitting in the air conditioned resort reception, where I had gone to check e-mail from my foodepedia account and to seek refuge from the Gambian mid-day heat. Now you might call me a saddo, but I just hate coming back from a relaxing holiday only to have to wade through over 100 e-mail messages – don’t you? And I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything important while I was away, naturally.
Just after I opened the in-box, plop! a new e-mail arrived before my eyes. The subject line of this message was ‘Come Dine With Me event’, I had to open it straight away. As I read it, I became both amused and a little excited. This was an invitation to a Come Dine With Me style dinner party, where I would take part in competing against fellow foodie media types, to cook and rate each other’s dinner party efforts using the brand new iPhone application that was about to be launched. Well, with a smile on my face and a chuckle, I took all of half a second to think about it and responded saying that I was interested – but that I wouldn’t be keen on fellow contestants rummaging through my belongings. I know that’s part of the fun of the show, but where would I hide all those things I wouldn’t want broadcast across the land? Actually, there is nothing to hide, honestly. No, honestly – really!! Oh well, there’s perhaps just one or two things I’d have stored in the loft. Doesn’t everyone have those?
Walking back to my waiting sun-bed, in my swimming shorts and tee shirt I couldn’t help but have a little grin on my face, knowing that this news would get a great reaction from my partner and fellow foodepedia stable-mate, Phillip, which, of course, it did. Immediately I started thinking ‘what should I cook’ and planning which of my own creations I would deliver to the table. Perhaps my Mars Bar Tart (and that’s not me, before anyone suggests it) or maybe I should wow them with my Eternal Question salad -a chicken and egg creation (of course0 very popular among friends and relatives. No, it wasn’t to be any of those; the idea was that contestants would select a dish from the application’s recipe recommendations and make that. A little disappointed at this stifling of my culinary adventurous streak, I consoled myself in the thought that it would still be an interesting and fun thing to do anyway.
So, some few weeks later, back in London in a wet, chilly November, the day of filming arrived and I took myself off to the location thinking, ‘I just hope I don’t come last’. I arrived and was introduced to the crew and fellow contestants, before being asked if we would like to sample some of the Hardys wines that we would be able to select from to go with our individual courses. As you’re probably aware, Hardys sponsor Come Dine With Me and of course, my fellow contestants and I were more than happy to taste the wines. We tasted, and spat (sometimes) and learned about the Hardys range. I hadn’t previously been aware it was so extensive. Then came the focus of the afternoon, the reveal of the menu and the cooking. Pea shoot and egg Salad with Parma ham and Parmesan was the starter (my dish) but I won’t go into the rest as you can see for yourself on the link to the footage below. Nor will I tell you the result; you’ll just have to watch it.
What I will tell you a little about is the Come Dine With Me iPhone application. The app contains some 20 or more recipe suggestions in each category, starter, mains and dessert. If you select one of those a simple tap on screen brings up your shopping list for the recipehile in the supermarket, as you place each item in your basket a tap on the item on screen strikes through it leaving just those you need to find still displayed. Once home with the basket of goodies, you simply call up the recipe and instructions on screen and start cooking. The app also has wine pairing suggestions for your chosen dish and there is a scoring function that allows you to score your fellow contestants in secret. There are also voice-over quotes from Dave Lamb that you might want to introduce while you sit with your contestants at the table, or try to put them off as they struggle in the kitchen, as I imagine some people might – not me, of course. Once all contestants have hosted their party and scored one another, the app can be prompted to reveal the winner.
The Come Dine With Me app is sponsored by Hardys wine and is now available to download from iTunes for £1.79. Also for more wine information, recipe ideas and tips for your dinner party, you could visit www.hardys-wine.co.uk