2012 OXFORD SYMPOSIUM ON FOOD AND COOKERY: (1) The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

I was the only one enjoying the cool and rainy July weather in Oxford, such a welcome change from sizzling, sun-scorched Kea. Understandably, though, many non-islanders were disappointed by the persistent and at times hard rain, which delayed the beginning of the much-anticipated Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, honoring Alice in Wonderland’s centenary year at Merton College’s cricket Pavilion.


The pre-conference fundraising event, organized by Richard Stevens and the American Friends of the Symposium, featured the most colorful and imaginative buffet which included delicious hedgehog rolls with Parma ham and parmesan, jellyfish jelly with goji berries, savory dormice pastries, pinwheel salmon sandwiches, rainbow scones with an amazing clotted cream, and a green Victoria cake ‘that had sprouted magical red mushrooms’ –according to Jake Tilson‘s imaginative printed menu.

Cupcakes and lots of other delicacies were beautifully displayed on elaborate paper stands, platters. and doilies from Talking Tables, while the tea served was grown in England! Of the fifty or more participants, few were brave enough to dress in full costume, or at least wear decorative hats; so, unfortunately, there were only a few interesting creations. The talented young actor Henryk Roberts performed an amusing Mad Hatter monologue, while professor Martin Mac Con Iomaire, with his imposing baritone voice, recited the ‘Jabberwocky.’ As we were getting ready to leave two young Danish chefs from the Nordic Food Lab – established by Noma’s Rene Redzepi – served the most incredible dulse ice cream drizzled with beet and woodruff syrup.

* Read Roger Hale’s full account of the Symposium. MORE notes and slideshows from me will follow.


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