Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You always remember your first time

Lobster and crab bisque with little crab cake soufflés - Courgette, sage and bacon salad with chickpea fritters and tomato fondant - Beef in red wine with mushrooms, parsnip cream - Mature English stilton with homemade blackcurrant conserve

I didn’t know what to expect as I made my long trek downstairs from my apartment two floors above Teddy’s bustling kitchen but judging from what I had read on the blog I was in for a treat. Our gracious host started the evening off properly with a brandy an
d champagne cocktail. We each had two and at some point I think all of us felt…”Whoa, I should slow down. It’s only eight o’clock.” Wise advice that was woefully abandoned.We began the meal with a bowl of lobster and crab bisque. Sometimes bisques can be too filling. They leave you feeling like one of those lucky geese that get fed all the free corn mash they can possibly eat---and then some (mmmmm…torture never tasted so decadent). But Teddy’s delightful lobster and crab was a light affair and the perfect opening for the meal. But it was the cutting board full of crab cake soufflés that were the real hit…crunchy with big morsels of the sea in every bite. It may be a faux pas at finer French restaurants but I loved dipping my crab cake in the bisque so that it could kiss its spiny undersea cousin, the lobster, one last time.Next up was the sort of delicate, little trifle that usually causes me to say “uh-oh…isn’t this precious?” It doesn’t help that it was called a courgette instead of a zucchini and it had a foamy pink puff of whipped tomato on top. Oh, there’s no way I’m going to like this, I erroneously believed. Naturally, I was wrong on more levels than this tasty second course was high. Usually, I’m not really a fan of courgettes (See? He’s got me saying it) but the fresh crisp of the vegetable along with the crunchy/chewy of the fritter worked great together…and did I mention the bacon? What isn’t better with bacon? (Milk and bacon? Nyquil and bacon?) Whenever I talk to vegetarians (those misguided souls) they always tell me that the one meat they miss is bacon. As for the fondant? I could have put that between Oreos it tasted so good. Well done, old boy.At this point we may have been opening the fourth bottle of wine and maybe that explains the wide-eyed glow in our eyes when the beef in red wine with mushrooms and parsnip cream magically appeared underneath our noses. This was just simply amazing. The generous chunks of beef were as tender as a good night kiss from a loved one and the parsnip cream was so light and perfectly seasoned it was the highlight of the meal. It practically ran into my mouth it was so good. Teddy has definitively proven that mashed potatoes are for suckers.But before it was all to sadly come to an end there was one last surprise: A handmade jam. Who makes their own preserves nowadays you might ask? I mean if this was 1872, somewhere in the Montana territories, and wife #2 (wife #1 died of consumption) was looking for something to take her mind off of the impending Indian raid I could understand it but, apparently, the British are also big fans of homemade jellies so Teddy topped off our splendid meal with an equally splendid blackcurrant marmalade. The jam’s sweet and sour bite went perfect with the smelly, smooth Stilton. We all applied it liberally to some baguettes in the vain hope that the bread would soak up some of the alcohol. I, for one, was way off base in this belief as many people informed me the next day when I started to move again.

Mike Phillips, ovely neighbour

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