Dinner with friends – could there be a better way to spend a Wednesday evening? Especially when you are looking out over the Worthing sea-front watching the end of a beautiful sunny day and quaffing a delicious gin
and slimline tonic.
“Go easy on the gin!” our hostess warned her fella as he poured us our drinks in the kitchen. She was remembering (as were Mr B
and I) the frankly ferociously strong G & Ts served up by the very same would-be-barman on the balcony of their hotel room in Tenerife every night before dinner when we shared a few holiday days with the two of them a couple of years ago. Our host
did as he was told – but grimaced as he sipped at his own drink which he clearly felt was below par on the Gin Stakes.
The evening was a belated celebration
of the Two Old Geezers’ birthdays which occurred within a day of each other back in January. We had had to pull out of the previous date on account of a heavy cold (Mr B) and a wish not to visit this upon our friends who were about to embark (quite
literally) on a cruise. Better late than never, we told each other yesterday – even if the memories of the birthdays we were celebrating had all but faded into the distant past of the last three months. The evening was set for lots of chat, a good few
jokes (some of them quite unrepeatable) and much laughter.
Just as our Mothering Sunday meal at the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ home was so much more
relaxing than if we’d booked a table at a local hostelry, so it is with Dinner With Friends at Home. It’s fun being the honoured guests, but equally enjoyable being Mine Hosts.
On the occasions when Mr B and I host what might laughingly be called a Dinner Party, there is one secret of which our guests are unaware. Often we will offer, in advance, a choice of two main meals, asking which they
would prefer. Little do they know that, as well as choosing their meal, they are also choosing their chef. So, if it’s roast beef and all the trimmings they opt for, then it will be Mr B who will be slaving over a hot stove. If, on the other hand,
it’s Madras curry, then that will be down to me. I would be kidding to suggest that we have a vast range of dishes at our culinary fingertips but I don’t think we are too different from most other people. We can’t all be Masterchef
Talking cookery programmes, one of our favourites started a new series this week – the Great British Menu. If you haven’t ever watched
it (and I’m not suggesting you have to, unless you want to tie yourself to the TV every weekday evening for the next nine weeks) then this is how it works: every week, three chefs from a different region of the UK compete against each other to cook a
starter, a fish course, a main course and a pudding with the aim of representing their region in the Final. It is the Final which will determine the menu for a grand banquet – this year’s will be in St Paul’s Cathedral with veterans of the
2nd World War among the guests commemorating the 70th anniversary of D Day.
The chefs do struggle a bit to incorporate the banquet’s
“theme” into their menus. So far this week we have had dishes entitled “Run Rabbit Run” and “The Pig Dish” (it would have been even more authentic had it been called The Pig Bin – but then nobody would have wanted
to eat it, would they?) There was a sea-food dish called something like “Smoke on the Sea-shore” with swirling jets of smoke completely obliterating the fishy delights on the platter.
I have, in the past, been known for inventing appropriate (or, on occasions, wildly inappropriate) names for different dishes. In fact on Brownie Pack Holidays it was seen as essential to have a menu which reflected the holiday
theme. A good, old-fashioned shepherd’s pie would be “Willy Wonka’s Wickedly Wonderful Feast” while even a humble ice-cream would be elevated to glory by the title of “Chilly Chocolate”.
But here’s the thing: I don’t really want my meals dressed up with too many gimmicks. I was blissfully happy last night with smoked salmon, a fabulous steak with
Jersey Royals and salad, and a slice of chocolate gateau as served up by our generous friends. It was a veritable banquet – and, as far as I’m concerned, a Great British Menu. I bet you are licking your lips and wishing you had been
Dinner with friends. Such fun.