When Suzan Allan of Croxfords instructs you to ‘leave a key and let me get on with it while you go for a walk’ you know that something extraordinary is going to happen in your kitchen.
The bespoke wedding caterer may not have her usual big society weddings to cater for this summer, but lockdown has provided a whole new business opportunity for Suzan, whose catering company launched more than 20 years ago.
But, of course it’s not just nuptials that Suzan has provided her exquisite culinary delights for.
Parties, celebrations, corporate events, family occasions, secret suppers and now posh picnics and lavish lunches have been added to the menu in the very busy Croxfords Upper Heyford kitchen, near Bicester.
Croxfords’ talents extend far beyond their cooking prowess – the attention to detail was thoughtful, personal and made the whole experience extra special
“People still want to mark special occasions, and although pubs and restaurants are open now, many of my clients want to dine at home but be thoroughly spoiled,” Suzan explains.
“Our at home menus are tailored to the individual client, the weather and the occasion and we really only cater like this for very special occasions.”
She was right because when we returned from our wedding anniversary walk, as instructed, we really could not believe our eyes. Having moved into our kitchen and garden, Suzan and her team had surpassed all our expectations, but were nowhere to be seen.
THE COLOURFUL AND INDULGENT SEAFOOD PLATTER WAS MET WITH STUNNED SILENCE
The fridge was expertly stacked with enticing looking bowls and dishes of colourful and mouth-watering goodies, there were simple step-by-step assembly instructions and menus on the kitchen table and as we ventured out onto the patio we realised that Croxfords’ talents extend far beyond their cooking prowess – the attention to artistic and styling detail was thoughtful, personal and made the whole experience extra special.
Our garden had been transformed into a Mediterranean paradise. Gorgeous table linen, glassware and china had all been supplied along with flowers to create a magical and romantic lunch venue.
All we were asked to do was provide our own drinks and some fridge space. We felt we were guests somewhere else entirely.
We heated the home-made organic rye sourdough and petit pain for ten minutes as instructed and then enjoyed the starter – a fresh salmon, avocado and dill terrine – which was perfection on a plate.
Chilled, flavoursome, light and delicious this was the ideal way to start a romantic lunch on a scorching hot day when partnered with a glass of rose and the home-made bread.
I was already feeling reasonably full, (portions are generous!) and could have done with a small rest before the mains but Inspector Morsel was keen to see what delights lay in wait.
The arrival of the colourful and indulgent seafood platter was met with stunned silence and then lots of oohs and ahhs as we both deliberated over the fresh lobster, Mediterranean king prawns, dressed Cornish crab and claws and seafood melange of mussels, octopus, squid and shrimps.
This was served with lemon and garlic mayonnaise, a spicy seafood sauce, Croxfords royal potato salad with chives, a crisp summer garden salad and heritage tomato salad with Buratta, pesto and basil. The fresh, crisp and delicious salads were the perfect accompaniment to the salty, tangy seafood.
It was a feast for all the senses, and most definitely a very special lunch to mark a special occasion. This was pure luxury on a plate and we felt thoroughly spoilt and indulged.
The colours, flavours and textures all screamed summer and the taste was so memorable – Inspector Morsel is still talking about the lobster.
The grand finale were the biggest, perfectly crispy, home-made meringues we had ever seen, served with piles of summer berries and lashings of Chantilly cream. Perfect.
When we felt able to move again all we had to do was load the dishwasher and package up the china ready for collection the next day. Heaven.
Croxfords really is how memories are made.