November has just begun, and in commercial terms – that means so has Christmas. Of course, there are press events to preview Christmas stuff way back in July and August, but I'm talking about it now being the season of actual, proper Christmas soirees, and already my diary for November is chocker. My first Christmas meal with pulling-crackers (you know it's official with paper hats) was held for a group of bloggers by AO.com, masters of the electrical appliance (and also, possible geniuses for having their website and brand name be the same thing?). We pitched up at Carousel in Marylebone where the tables were laid out absolutely beautifully!
We started off in another room where we were offered mulled wine and some snacks made with AO.com appliances, including vegetable crisps in cones, and waffles in chocolate ganache – hell yes please!
After ganache from the gods we sat down to dinner, and the reading of Christmas cracker jokes and consuming of much prosecco (yay!) began. Guest of honour was Flora Sheddon, one of the contestants on this year's Great British Bake Off, and she got into the spirit of things with some blogging and food chat. Everyone loved their prawn risotto and meaty main course, but sadly both my vegetarian courses were inedible (baked artichoke that was just burnt leaves, and aubergine saltier than the sea), but I was fine with prosecco (and that pre-dinner waffle, hmm….).
We were having SUCH a good time, and it really was the best possible kick-off to the Christmas party season. I had just started taking some photos of my meringue and berries dessert when suddenly I heard screams. Right behind where Flora Bake Off had been sitting the curtains were fully on fire (top photo). Two things I learnt about fires – they really do spread quickly, and it really is the smoke that's the worst thing. As soon as it hit us we were all coughing like mad.
Fire drama was over as quickly as it started, with one of the staff team putting it out, unfortunately spraying Flora in the face with 'wet chemical spray' as he did so (below). They think it may have been caused by someone moving a lit candle from the table and placing it on the windowsill. The restaurant was so full of smoke we had to leave straight away, so dessert was abandoned. Safety went out the window when hilariously everyone made sure they took their goody bags with them, and some people even stood outside having a cheeky wine too. I now realise the danger that lies in being full of prosecco in such a situation; it really reduces your fire-escaping priorities.
Despite the abrupt ending and lack of veggie food, I had an amazing time. Brilliant company, and a gorgeous (pre-fire) venue. Thanks so much to AO.com for inviting us, and saving our lives!
Take a look at AO.com's AO at Home for tips on decor, Christmas dining, healthy recipes, and more.