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Ukrainian Effort Fundraising Dinner

Ukrainian Effort Fundraising Dinner at the Royal Dart Yacht Club:

Saturday 2 April 2022

It was the serviettes that did it for me.

Waiting for us on the tables upstairs in the Quarter Deck.

Yellow and blue folded together. I had to gulp back the tears. A symbol of our solidarity for this Ukrainian Fundraiser Effort with all the proceeds of the dinner to be donated to the DEC Ukrainian Appeal.

A few fellow diners were also dressed in patriotic Ukrainian yellow and blue, with some sporting the Ukrainian ribbon. Even if it was not lost on us that we were very, very fortunate to be with friends in the fond and familiar surroundings of RDYC whilst war raged in Ukraine, it was still moving and humbling that we could come together in thoughtful support of the Ukrainian Effort. The camaraderie of sharing good food had particular meaning that evening and was beyond geographical boundaries.

In tribute to this courageous country that continues to fight back, what better way to start the feast than Borscht. Traditionally, Ukrainians would have used lots of ingredients for this beet-based soup (very Ottolenghi!). At one time a staggering 30 items would have been in the mix, but the recipe has been simplified over time. Soup is usually an eating in public no-no for this lipstick-loving lass, but I banished any misgivings as I slurped this soothing and sustaining dish of vibrant vivid redness. Earthy beetrooty undertones combined with deep tomato tastiness served in a tea cup, looking rather jaunty, with a sourdough crisp on the side. If ever a bread spoke of sturdy resilience, for me, it would have to be sourdough as done properly it takes time to nurture and added a salty crispness.

The fish dish was home pickled salmon on a baby leaf and marinated red onion salad. Fresh and zingy from the pickly-oniony ensemble and yet delicate with the exquisite salmon. Adorned with the dusting of dill it brought out the swishy-fishy flavour. I never cease to marvel at the power of seemingly humble herbs that thrill and tease a dish.

Main course was what feels all the more emblematic given the atrocities in Ukraine. Chicken Kyiv - and let’s remember the correct Ukrainian pronunciation – Keeeeeev. Chicken fillet coated in crispy breadcrumbs; moistened and flavoured with oozy garlic butter that sang and danced on the palate, telling of happier times to come. May the enduring quality of this national dish be a positive portent of the survival and eventual recovery of Ukraine and its people.

Served with delightfully roasted new potatoes almost sweet in their golden gorgeousness; along with cauliflower, mange-tout, green beans and adorned with a sprig of rosemary, adding green and crunch to the dish.

After that savoury feast we needed to finish on a sweet note with a Ukrainian Honey Babka. In other words, pretty squares of a light and luscious and somehow superior sponge, with a sweet honey swirl on top and caramel zigzag plate flourish. That kept me quiet. Delicious and moreish.

In times of war the rules of what we know to be normal and civilised life can feel terribly topsy-turvy and helpless as we may feel in many ways as the agonising weeks of conflict drag on, this was a way we could come together as RDYC at its best in our support for the Ukrainian effort.

We thank Mark and Zach for their lovely food in the spirit of brave Ukraine and thank Victoria, Adele and Finn for looking after us.

A grateful evening in so many ways.

A review by Jude Owens

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