I’ve really done it now. I invited my friend and parish minister for his lunch to my home today to celebrate his birthday. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the cold light of day as the time of noon ebbs ever closer, I wish I had shut my mouth.
You might be thinking that sounds odd, until you understand the circumstances. Last week I had arranged to take him to a lovely French bistro, expensive but excellent fare as a birthday present. He has been before and has always commented on the quality of the food. Wanting to get a table I booked it ahead of time, only to find an email in my inbox. The contents perturbed me more than a little. It read that he would prefer to go somewhere else. The restaurant in his opinion had atmosphere but did not offer value for money. You could not get as much salad as you could eat and top-ups of Coke. A local Harvester chain restaurant fitted the remit better.
I replied that I had already booked and anyway I was paying as a birthday treat. Having heard nothing from him, last Wednesday morning, I went into town and assumed he would meet me at the restaurant. No-one came, so I had a three course meal with wine on my own. I began with crab and smoke salmon beignets with a red pepper coulis, followed by daub of pork with fennel mash and then trio of chocolate desserts. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal with the repartee of the waiters, whom I know well, amused I should eat on my own.
Lunch today turned out quite pleasant in the end. We started with a pear and walnut salad with a warm honey and mustard dressing, followed by Chicken Veronique with mashed potatoes and a lemon soufflé omelette for dessert. We had two bottles of wine and some champagne cognac. Cooking always de-stresses me and the more stressed I am the more elaborate the meal. Just as well I am usually calm, otherwise I might several stone heavier.
The observant reader should note the French influences to the meal which are entirely intentional and, before you ask, the Veronique Sauce was not too acidic as many can be, since I added some sugar to balance the flavour because the grapes were not very sweet. Made well this sauce is the perfect accompaniment to chicken or lemon sole.
My friend enjoyed himself and said the experience was better than a restaurant. With a cleared plate for all three courses he clearly meant it.