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Was up bright and early because I knew I had to get over to Picadilly by 3.00! 😉 Okay, it’s not THAT far from Nicola’s place in Clapton, but as the tube makes me jittery I opted for buses to get around. And I was lucky to have three bus routes near me that took me pretty much everywhere I wanted to go. Anyhow, I had a brief two-hour window to meet up with my friend Julie @woollygee for a drink before meeting my “date” John @cityjohn for yet another drink before the BIG EVENT.

Julie just happened to be in town for a big event of her own, and I met her at the elegant Royal Overseas League, where she was staying. We enjoyed some chilled viognier in the garden, overlooking Green Park, and had a chance to catch up. Then it was time to meet John.

John had chosen the Grenadier to meet because it was near the embassy and is also a classic and charming pub full of history. I told him I would probably get there before him as it seemed to be a shortish walk from the ROL, but I didn’t take into account some serious “getting lost” time. It turned out I got to the Grenadier mere moments before it was inundated with the after work crowd, and grabbed the last two free bar stools just before John walked in.

Then it was off to the Embassy – and the reason I was in London in the first place – to celebrate the accomplishments of my dear friend JosĂ© Pizarro, including 25 years in London as a chef and the upcoming publication of his next cookbook, AndalucĂ­a (available now for pre-order on Amazon – can’t wait to get mine). We arrived somewhat “fashionably late” to find it was already heaving both inside the vast vaulted rooms and in the pretty garden out back.

Well, what can I say? It truly was an EVENT. Aside from feeling thrilled to be there, and enjoying the fabulous food and wine passed around during the evening, it was also fun to meet up with old friends and also meet some new Twitter pals I’d known ages but had never met in person.

But mostly it felt so amazing to be sharing this special moment with this incredible man I’d first met on Twitter, then in person in London in September 2010, just before he opened his tapas and sherry bar JosĂ©… and the rest is history. I’ve watched him go from strength to strength, from one success to the next. But he remains the same genuinely caring and well-grounded guy I first met nine years ago.

Despite the opulent setting, it was quite a relaxed occasion, and totally in keeping with JosĂ© and his way of doing things. There were a few speeches, the most moving being JosĂ©’s when he thanked his mother for teaching him everything he knows. I’m so happy I went, and feel very honoured to have been a part of this wonderful celebration of my friend’s life and accomplishments.

More pics and a video below.

The man of the hour. JosĂ©’s @jose_pizarro speech was both humble and moving.

the menu

the marvelous Melissa Cole @melissacole with lovely John Comyn @CityJohn,
my plus-one for the evening

Melissa with Peter @petermeades, JosĂ©’s husband (centre)
and someone I don’t know on the right

the audacious Audrey Gillan @audreygillan

chatting with JosĂ©’s elegant and charming mother Isabel

not just a mention in JosĂ©’s cookbook AndalucĂ­a, but also a photo!  🙂

the embassy garden with a brief cameo by John

inside the embassy