UK

I will never forget the day I walked into The Baldwin Gallery to get a feel of what was going to be my next adventure in the kitchen.

I felt astonished, overwhelmed by the beautiful architecture of this Victorian house. It was a big source of stories, real or from one’s imagination, breathing history.

But there was also a new life, very very vibrating. Colours, emotions, expressions, thinking, coming from the walls by the powerful work of the gallery artists.

I felt… home. Because home for me has always been where you learn and grow, expanding your vision and knowledge before facing the inevitable harshness of the world.

There are other essential elements that add to this home feeling at the Baldwin’s. The owner, Dennison Smith, is this gorgeous woman that makes you comfortable with a heartwarming smile, and she is generous enough to offer them quite often and spontaneously.

The Baldwin functions as a normal family + home office house, with Blu coming and laying his head next to your legs, the table filled with computers amd coffee on the pot. And there are always good cheese, good wine, fresh vegetables….

Blu, the best host

Blu, the host that never barks, welcomes you with this adorable face

So there I was, collaborating and starting a series of trials to test Cooknst concept and love. This happened for the kick off the Baldwin’s Salon Series last November, with the performance of Amit Chaudhuri, Mobile Forms: Word, Song & Discourse.

This get-to-know-you moment began with a challenge: an indian vegetarian menu. Dennison brought the ideas and the inspiration, together we decided what could be more interesting.

This get-to-know-you moment began with a challenge: an indian vegetarian menu.  Dennison brought the ideas and the inspiration, together we decided what could be more interesting.

I am no vegetarian at all (I’m very meaty, I confess), but I do love some vegetables – not all of them, but most. I eat salad frequently, and after that experience I realised that I have more veggie days than I thought.

Anyway, the menu also had an ingredient I particularly enjoy: yellow lentils. I discovered those in the UK and I fell for its natural colour and amazing texture.

So, the menu was: Daal, Kerala style green beans stir fry with coconut, Indian summer salad and Ladoo coconut balls.

The preparation started at the night before. And while chopping up carrots, onions and garlic with a nice glass of wine we shared our own stories around food, around people, around love, around life curiosities.

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Chop, chop, chop, chat, chat, chat

In the next morning, more chop, chop, chop, chat, chat, chat

In the next morning, more chop, chop, chop, chat, chat, chat

I woke up early the next day full of energy and excitement to get to the second stage of the preparation.

Slowly the scenario transformed into the event, and everything was conducted to keep the cosiness and the warmth of the space where it should be: everywhere.

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The Kerala style green beans preparation

The run of show with more prep and cooking went super relaxed. Full of tastes, flavours, aromas, enjoyment.

The night was perfectly combined with Amit’s delicate and soulful performance and Dennison’s own way to conduct you into the world of the gallery artists. And of course, with people sitting around the large dinner table, plates soon to be emptied and ready to be filled up again, as if the guests were having dinner at their family home, or a friends’.

Simple happiness. Yes, it's me

Simple happiness. Yes, it’s me

 

A dear friend of mine, videoartist, collaborator and long time cooking buddy, responsible for a lot of the handwork of that night and the delicate scenes that you see here, summarised the night.

He said that when everybody ends the meal in the kitchen instead of the living room or elsewhere that means that everything went as it supposed to be, very well.

I add to that that the full and talkative people in the kitchen meant that there were soul, love, cultural interchange and a genuine act of sharing tastes, culture and stories.

Pics: Leo Almeida