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Hot on the heels of their Halloween-themed film screenings, Pop Up Screens return to the 20th Century Theatre on Westbourne Grove for a line-up of magical Christmas and winter films. They’ll be kicking things off on 12th December at 8.30pm with that absolute classic, Elf, and will be running their own version of the ’12 days of Christmas’ (but with movies instead of…things…) with screenings up until 23rd December!

On top of that, the 20th Century Theatre will be transformed into a snow-filled (you read that right!) winter wonderland, so if we don’t have a real white Christmas this year (although, when do we ever?), at least you can attend a ‘cinema in the snow’! If that’s not enough, you reach this winter wonderland through a magic wardrobe…!

Pop Up Screens Christmas Winter Wonderland

As mentioned, films will be shown daily up until 23rd December, and weekends will see three screenings a day. There’s a great variety of films with something for all ages – whether you’re taking the kids, going along with friends, or getting in the festive spirit after work. You’ll also be able to buy some special winter treats to enjoy during each screening, including boozy hot chocolate, mulled wine and plenty more, and with doors opening an hour before each film starts, there’s plenty of time to take in the ‘wintery’ surroundings, grab your snacks and drinks and make yourself comfortable.

Pop Up Screens founder David Leydon said:

“Our Christmas screenings are really special and incredibly satisfying.  It’s wonderful seeing the disbelief on people’s faces as you ask them to walk through a wardrobe to enter the cinema and then watch as a burley bloke instantly reverts to a 9 year old and starts throwing snow at his friends.  I say it a lot, but Christmas is genuinely the most special thing we do.”

The full schedule of films is as follow:

Friday 12th
8.30pm – Elf

Saturday 13th
1pm – Frozen
5pm – Bad Santa
8.30pm – Love Actually

Sunday 14th
1pm – The Muppets Christmas Carol
5pm – Home Alone
8.30pm – Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Monday 15th
8.30pm – Gremlins

Tuesday 16th
8.30pm – Elf

Wednesday 17th
8.30pm – Scrooged

Thursday 18th
8.30pm – Home Alone

Friday 19th
8.30pm – Love Actually

Saturday 20th
1pm – Santa Claus: The Movie
5pm – National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
8.30pm – The Muppets Christmas Carol

Sunday 21st
1pm – Arthur Christmas
5pm – Trading Places
8.30pm – Miracle on 34th Street

Monday 22nd
5pm – Home Alone
8.30pm – It’s a Wonderful Life

Tuesday 23rd
5pm – Elf
8.30pm – Nightmare Before Christmas

Tickets cost £20 for adults and £10 for kids. You can buy tickets and find out more details at www.popupscreens.co.uk.

Pop Up Screens Christmas Winter Wonderland
12th – 23rd December 2014
20th Century Theatre
291 Westbourne Grove
W11 2QA
www.popupscreens.co.uk

The contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment, winners of the Nonclassical Battle of the Bands 2014 and UK Young Artists 2014, are hosting a Christmas concert at the wonderful St John’s Church in Notting Hill on 16th December 2014.

Titled A Christmas Experiment, the concert will be an alternative take on the traditional carol gathering…but one that doesn’t sacrifice any of the traditional refreshments!

The Hermes Experiment

The dynamic and innovative quartet, made up of harp, soprano, clarinet and double bass, will be joined on the night by Ben Corneau on St John’s wonderful church organ; those of you who have visited the church before will know that the organ recently underwent a complete restoration, and is one of the finest church organs in the whole of London.

The quartet will be performing two exciting new commissions by Graham Ross and Jonathan Woolgar, plus carols arranged by the Hermes Experiment themselves, as well as their take on the classic festive favourite, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.

The full programme is as follows:

  • Graham Ross, Away in a Manger (world premiere)
  • Benjamin Britten, A Ceremony of Carols (arr. Millwood)
  • Carols arranged by The Hermes Experiment
  • Jonathan Woolgar, Procession and Chorale for solo organ (world premiere)

Entry is free, and there will be mince pies and mulled wine to accompany the performance.

More details on The Hermes Experience can be found on their website www.thehermesexperiment.com, or on Twitter or Facebook.

A Christmas Experiment
8pm, Tuesday 16th December 2014
St John’s Church
Lansdowne Crescent
W11 2NN

I had the pleasure of taking a preview Christmas class at the Madame Gautier Cookery School a few days ago, enjoying a very delightful three hours of making festive treats. And, post-class, I now find myself fully prepared for the Christmas season, armed with the knowledge of making some delicious mince pies and chocolate truffles!

At the start of the class, we met the lady who must best be described as Madame Gautier herself – for that’s who she literally is! The very friendly Corinne Gautier gave us a rundown on the history of the Madame Gautier business, from their beginnings at farmers’ markets around London (at which they still actively participate, week in, week out) to the catering and delivery side serving many repeat customers – including some Christmas regulars! Madame Gautier’s main ethos is that of a classic French traiteur – the general concept of which is providing top-quality, restaurant-style food for customers to eat at home – although the business now also involves a bistro (at 64-66 Chamberlayne Road, NW10). The one thing that stood out to me from what I learned is the close relationship Madame Gautier has with its customers: not only do they have numerous loyal fans that regularly return to their market stalls, but the business also actively responds to customer demand – in fact, that’s exactly how the cookery school came about. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s probably no surprise to learn that this is a family-run business through and through – from Corinne to master chef, Mark Gautier (who’s classically trained, and has worked at 3-star Michelin restaurants both here and in France); their two children – Liana and Guy – also work for the family business.

Madame Gautier Cookery School
Our class

On to the class with our friendly teacher, Adam and first up – mince pies! Now, although I take great pleasure in cooking, baking isn’t really my kind of thing. So I’d certainly never tried pastry-making before and had definitely never got my head around the concept of making my own mince pies, as much as I like devouring them each Christmas. Turns out, they actually couldn’t be simpler to make…well, with some expert guidance, that is! Having mixed together our pre-laid out ingredients, we were soon rolling together a nice ball of shortcrust pastry that would get put into the fridge for us to take home later. The mincemeat filling followed, and we started stirring together the ingredients of dried fruit, sultanas, raisins, grated apple and the like. Whilst that got to bubbling away on the stove, we rolled out some pre-prepared pastry (i.e. not what we’d made – for it needs to be kept in the fridge for at least three hours – but ones that Adam had made the day before) ready to begin assembling our little pies. With some tips on how best to fill them – and some little decoration tricks – they were rapidly dispatched to the ovens to bake away for twenty minutes.

Madame Gautier Cookery School Mince Pies
Filled minced pies (on the left) and with lids, ready to go into the oven (right)

Which then meant it was time to try and make some chocolate truffles, which also turned about to be exceedingly straightforward! Much like the mince-pie making, we went through the first steps ourselves (melting the chocolate, cream and butter, and pouring into a container to leave to set in the fridge) before utilising some pre-set chocolate. Adam had prepared three different flavours for us – white chocolate with Baileys, milk chocolate with orange, and dark chocolate with stem ginger – for us to scoop out our chocolate truffle balls from. He’d also set up different containers of toppings that we could use to make our own mix-and-match truffles – items such as crushed pistachio, chocolate vermicelli, icing sugar and more. Off we all went creating our own truffle delicacies, placing them in a sweet presentation box that we were given to take our creations home in. (Which makes the truffles suitable for gifting!)

Madame Gautier Cookery School Truffles
My truffles…
Madame Gautier Cookery School Mince Pies
…and my finished mince pies – sure a little rough around the edges (literally) – but they tasted amazing!

Overall, I found the Madame Gautier cookery class to be exceedingly good fun, especially as it was held in such a welcoming and friendly space. The bespoke set up with a large central ‘table’ around which all students gather means there’s plenty of space for everyone, and it’s easy to see the teacher to follow their instructions – although we were also told not to be afraid to ask questions at any time. As I mentioned, I’m not really a baker and although I enjoy cooking, I’m not sure my skills are overly impressive. There were some initial moments when I did think “Uh oh – cooking in front of other people!? What if I mess it up?!!”, which were rapidly swept to one side once I saw how easy it was to follow all the steps and instructions. There’s also plenty of hob and oven space, and a large assortment of cooking utensils, pots and pans and pretty much everything that we could have possibly needed. Our class teacher subtly made sure the pace kept flowing nicely – from magically sweeping away our used pans, reminding us to have a clean up of our own cooking/baking space, or giving us some individual pointers when he saw it necessary – so no one was left behind or got lost in what they were meant to be doing.

With some mulled wine and a (teacher-baked!) mince pie to finish, my fellow classmates and I gathered around the dining table in the ‘classroom’ to have a little natter about our morning’s endeavours – a lovely end to the class. And with a goody bag to take home of the (aforementioned) truffle box, our own batch of mince pies plus the pastry and spare mincemeat that we’d made – more than enough to give it a second try at home – and recipes for everything, we all left feeling rather content!

Madame Gautier are running special ‘Fetes de Noel’ Christmas cookery classes this month, which cover some of the items mentioned above and more – chocolate truffles, chutneys, curds and mince pies. I would highly recommend a class – not only are they supremely good fun (why not go with a friend?), but I now honestly feel quite confident – excited, even – to make my own treats at home. Each class costs £45, and there’s a special price of £75 for two people to attend any one class. The classes take place on 8th, 15th and 22nd December – to find out more, or to book a class, please contact the Cookery School direct on +44 20 8964 5511 or email info@madamegautier.com.

They also run regular cookery classes throughout the year that focus on particular cooking techniques and skills, as well as covering how to master classic French dishes such as Bouillabaisse, Coq Au Vin and Tarte Tatin. More on these classes and the Madame Gautier Cookery School in general can be found at madamegautier.com/cookery-school.

Incidentally, I passed around the mince pies amongst friends in the days following the class. The general refrain was that they were “much better than the ones you can buy”, the evidence of which seemed to be how quickly they disappeared! And the truffles, you wonder? Well, I’m keeping those for myself!

For more on Madame Gautier, their cookery school, bistro and Traiteur menu, please see www.madamegautier.com.

If you’re already thinking about your potential plans for New Year’s Eve, why not join Notting Hill favourite La Sophia and celebrate in style – with a combination of sumptuous food, a bit of bubbly and some fantastic live music?

La Sophia, the French Mediterranean restaurant with a unique Palestinian twist, is hosting a very special New Year’s Eve this year. There will be an amazing menu with a wonderful variety of dishes, plus live jazz music with their very talented saxophonist and guitarist playing all evening long.

New Year's Eve at La Sophia

The menu on the night:

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Starter

Jerusalem artichoke soup with roasted shallots & white truffle oil (V)

Aubergine mille-feuille , grilled hallomui, chilli, tomato concasse, pecan & parsley pesto (V)

Presse de foie gras, toasted brioche, spiced pear chutney & truffle

Hot smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, dill & avocado salsa

Main

Crispy skin sea bass fillet, puy lentils, quinoa, confit tomato & lemon beurre blanc

Oven roast turkey breast, sprouts, sage stuffing, cranberry sauce

Roast rump of lamb & shoulder croquette, garlic mash, green beans & thyme jus

Roasted winter vegetables ragout in puff pastry, goat cheese, & green harissa yogurt sauce (V)

Dessert

Apple tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream

Warm chocolate fondant & vanilla ice cream

Christmas pudding & vanilla cream anglaise

Selection of French & English cheeses, crackers  & chutney (supplement £4)

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The New Year’s Eve menu costs £45 per person, which includes three courses and a glass of champagne.

La Sophia will be open very late on the 31st December, so do come down to ring in the New Year with some delicious food, lively music and a warm and friendly setting for a very fun way of seeing in 2014!

To reserve a table, please contact La Sophia on 020 8968 2200 or contact@lasophia.co.uk.

La Sophia
46 Golborne Road
W10 5PR
www.lasophia.co.uk