Hayley Westenra and Jonathan Ansell joined two Classic FM listeners to dine at the Avista restaurant in aid of Music Makers.
The once in a lifetime experience was bid for as part of the Classic FM Christmas Appeal, with Jonathan and Hayley donating the lunch in connection with the Valentines Tour earlier this year.
Through donating this money can't buy experience, Hayley is continuing to raise the profile of Music Makers in her role as our first official Ambassador.
Mr Bailey bid for the experience for his wife, Jan, an avid fan of both Jonathan and Hayley's. She was even lucky enough to get her own Bach the Dog signed by the two classical artists!
The experience raised hundreds of pounds, ensuring Music Makers can continue to fund life changing music education projects, such as MusicQuest .Avista Restaurant logo
The lunch took place at the Avista Restaurant in Mayfair. Thank you to Avista for donating the meal, and thank you to Jonathan and Hayley for donating their time to make this money can't buy experience a truly special one for Mr and Mrs Bailey.
If you would like to bid for similar money can't buy experiences this year, keep a look out for news of this year's Christmas Appeal coming soon!
The loveliest, sweetest flower that bloomed in paradise, and the first that died, has rarely blossomed since on mortal soil. It is so frail, so delicate, a thing, it is gone if it but look upon itself; and she who ventures to esteem it hers proves by that single thought she has it not. Humility - Fry
Sorry if this goes on a bit but I know some of you have been awaiting all the details !!
Well as some of you will know we got very short notice that this was to go ahead but having waited so long (and having a couple of previous dates cancelled) we grabbed the chance to go ahead. Even so by this morning I was actually feeling sick with nerves (you'd think I'd never met them before lol) and Greg wasnt much better!
Anyway we set off and arrived at Avista Restaurant in Mayfair at about 12.30. Our table was booked was 1. We went into the beautiful bar area where they offered to make us surprise c0cktails! Mine was a raspberry/passionfruit/martini and Greg had one with mint/rum/and I dont know what else LOL.
After a while Hayley wandered in alone through one door and just after we had sat back down from greeting her Jonathan walked in alone from the other Jonathan ordered a Mojito but Hayley went with just water. Shortly after we were joined with the lovely Sophie from ClassicFM Music Makers (the charity for which the auction was raising funds). They very kindly bought me 'Bach' a cuddly dog which barks when you press its paw (which Jon had to test lol) and some CDs.
The Avista PR lady came to greet us all and asked Jonathan and Hayley if they would agree to have a photo with the chef later, which they said of course.
Instantly everyone relaxed and the conversation flowed easily and we were quickly laughing about many different things like learning to drive, food and drink, gigs and a few more details about the wedding. Got to hold onto Jonathan's hand to have a close look at the wedding ring (which he is sooo proud to be wearing) and it was lovely to hear about how they designed them and chose the stones. Debbie chose a 'french cut' diamond to get extra sparkle Jonathan's ring has beautiful diamonds but he is worrying about it getting scratched!!
Anyway after chatting for about an hour we thought we had better go through to the restaurant. It is really lovely in there and well set out. I sat in between Jonathan and Greg and then Greg next to Hayley, with Sophie on the other side of the table.
We were brought a glass of champagne each whilst we studied the menus (along with some water) and on the table were some thin cheesy stick things (which Hayley knew the posh name for) and Jonathan passed to me to try. We were also brought a plate of various different types of bread with dipping oil. All the while we were all chatting easily which was a relief to me as I was worried I would sit there like an idiot being unable to say all the things I wanted to as usual LOL
After a while the waiter came to take our orders and Hayley wanted to everyone else to order first as she couldnt decide what to have You may have seen some of this from the tweets but Jonathan had steak tartare with quail eggs, Hayley & Sophie the seared tuna, Greg had calamari and I had parma ham with melon and figs. Jonathan joked about the quail eggs whilst we were waiting and we decided we could have a mini fried breakfast with everything in minature including little fried quail eggs. When his starter arrived it was a big surprise as it was covered with a special lid that looked white but was in fact clear and it was just full of white smoke. When the lid was lifted it smelt fantastic and there were indeed little fried quail eggs on top Everyone really enjoyed their starters and we were given plenty of time to chat whilst waiting for our mains.
For mains Hayley went for the steak tartare that Jon had had for his starter, Jonathan had the sole in lemon and butter sauce with spring salad, Sophie had the risotto and Greg and I both had the pork cheeks, mashed potato, spinach and red wine sauce. These were again really lovely and everyone was impressed with the food.
The lunch was very leisurely and it was great to just chat about anything and everything with all of us really relaxed and enjoying it. Much laughter was had by all
Soon it was time for deserts. Jonathan asked what the hot chocolate foam from the Caribbean was like and it sounded very tempting so Jonathan, Hayley and I all went for that with Greg having marinated melon and peach with ice cream and Sophie the coffee ice cream with crunchi granita. They were all lovely but the chocolate desert was really 'indulgent' as Jon put it and definetely the best choice!
Jonathan signed my 'Bach' putting "Jan and Greg, Bach the Bear! What a lovely lunch at Avista, loads of love Jonathan xxx 25.9.09 (the bear was a joke between Jonathan and I)
Hayley then signed it to putting "What a lovely lunch with you, lots of love Hayley xx
He is a lovely souvenier and will be taking up residence by my bed LOL. Photo hopefully to follow.
Nobody seemed in any hurry to make a move and when they asked if we wanted to move back to the bar Sophie checked and told them no we were happy where we were
Jonathan, Sophie and Greg all had a coffee and we continued to sit and chat. Sophie then asked if she could take a couple of pics (umm.. yes please!) so Jonathan and Hayley came and stood behind us. All the while Jonathan was pulling faces and messing about putting Bach in the pics and making Hayley laugh so I dont know what they are like as I havent seen them but will try and post later too.
We then moved into the bar area for some more chat. After a short time Hayley's cab arrived so after hugs and kisses with all she left us. We sat and talked some more with Jonathan trying to remember what shows were comingn up and was convinced he didnt have two on the same night and in the end he got me confused so we still dont know! He is however hoping to do some shows in New York in the autumn (not confirmed) but didnt have any others confirmed for us either at the moment. He is really looking forward to doing Stoke! Jonathan and Greg were talking about radio controlled helicopters and other gadgets (lol boys and their toys). Jonathan and I then had the pic taken that I posted on twitter and he thanked us for a lovely time (bless). After about 20 mins his taxi was there too and after more hugs and kisses he was gone too. He must have gone on twitter as soon as he was in the taxi because when he left I put the pic up and noticed his tweet I had told him how popular his tweeting was and he promised to keep it up. (I also told him that he needed to get something sorted for the website which he duly noted!) We stayed and chatted to Sophie for another 10 mins or so and then said our goodbyes and made our way back to the car and home.
We have both had the most amazing day. Hayley and Jonathan as we all know are so down to earth and genuinely lovely people. It has been one of the most special days ever. So nice to spend unhurried time and to get to hear about the little things that make people happy and a little insight into their private lives. Thank you so much to ClassicFM for running the auction, Greg for bidding and winning the chance, Sophie and Jo for all their help with the arrangements but especially to Hayley and Jonathan for making it such a special, unhurried, wonderful, amazing and unrepeatable day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I've never heard of Steak Tartare before...so I googled it.
I'm not a fussy eater by any means, but Hayley is definitely braver than me in this regard! Has anyone else ever had it before? Is it nice? From reading Jonathan's forum, the eggs on Hayley and Jonathan's meals were cooked -- which seems a little more appetising! :rollin
LOL!!! Rowan Atkinson is such a gifted comedian! Although Hayley had her's after Jonathan, so she must have known what she was in for... so at least she wasn't trying to hide her's in her shoes!
I actually remember now a story of my sister's finance and his friend when they went to France. They thought they were getting steak and ended up with steak tartare -- they got quite a shock and I think they did a bit of a Mr Bean!
Is it a bit like the raw fish in sushi? The sound of it makes you feel a bit squeamish at first, but when you actually have it all prepared properly it's really yummy?
I think now that we can safely say that Hayley is no longer a vegetarian.
But the rest of us are now!
I actually burst out laughing when I read that!
Hayley is certainly blazing a trail from a vego to someone who is willing to eat a dish that makes even the most seasoned of carnivores a little squeamish.
As a big fan of red meat (in most forms) I would suggest that it might have something to do with a lifetime of pent up frustration... who knows?
Though to be honest, I'm really curious.. if I ever go to a restaurant (a reputable one, mind you) and it's on the menu, I might just give it a try. My grandfather was a butcher and he always maintained that a real butcher always tasted his mince and rissoles before selling to make sure they tasted good -- so he had no problem with eating raw beef.