The dinner party

You know that feeling when you are washing rancid scallop juice out of your backpack with toilet duck, in the shower?

I know! Annoying, isn’t it?

Well I was doing that this morning, whilst mainlining gaviscon and thinking that was a punchy weekend….

And all I did was host a little dinner party on Saturday night.

Six of my closest friends, some extraordinary booze. Actually the most extraordinary booze you can drink more or less and some nice food. The guests booked their baby sitters and left Barnes for the mean streets of Putney. I did an Ipod playlist and plundered Waitrose. Nice and civilised. So far, so middle class. Roast artichoke heart anyone?

And a few days ago I thought about what I would cook. As a private chef I ask people what they would like to eat. I would say that eight out of ten come up with scallops for starter, beef fillet for main and strawberries for dessert. And I always try and change their mind because I find all of those things a bit dull. A bit DONE. A bit Masterchef circa 2004. A bit pea puree and black pudding.

But my chums are simple coves and I though I would take these ingredients and see if I could do a riff or two of my own without being too ‘cheffy’. And this is what I cooked.

Scallops with puy lentils, chorizo, lime and coriander

This is easy. Cook the puy lentils until tender but still just nutty, remove casing from four chorizo sausages and finely chop the meat. Fry until crispy. Add to lentils with all the gorgeous smoky oil. Add zest and juice of two limes, salt, pepper and a splash of maple syrup. Sear the scallops and spoon over lentils. Finish with coriander.

Then I cooked this:

Fillet of beef with chanterelles, creamed corn and broad beans

This looks crap because I was a bit drunk my now- and I’m not going to tell you how to cook a steak- the interesting thing is the corn- The yellow Jackson Pollack-looking vomity bit. It’s a Thomas Keller recipe that he served with duck. I think it works better with beef. And its quite exciting to make and will make you feel all molecular.

Get five ears of corn. Shuck them (run knife from top to bottom) and put kernels of three in a blender with a splash of water. Put the rest in salted boiling water and cook for a minute and a half. Blitz up the corn for a couple of minutes and pour into a chinoise. catch the resulting liquid- gently push down on pulp to speed process along. Discard pulp. Add liquid to a sauce pan on low/medium heat. Whisk. The starch in the corn with make the liquid thicken substantially. whisk in a hundred grams of cold cubed butter, add the cooked corn and add salt and finely ground white pepper. It is surprisingly delicious.

And then for pud, we had this and I was really quite drunk by now.

Macerated strawberries with black olive caramel, white chocolate and honeycomb ice cream

Macerate the strawberries in balsamic vinegar and icing sugar. Make caramel with sugar, water and glucose. Then blitz up with a handful of olives. Make or buy (I made) white chocolate and roll into a cylinder with cling film and foil. Freeze. Smash up three  crunchie bars (couldn’t be arsed to make honeycomb) and sieve. Roll ice cream tube in honeycomb dust. Cut into portions.

And then we ate a big block of manchego and some quince.

The booze that I alluded to earlier was from 1986- Chateau La lagune, Chateau Palmer and Chateau Montrose. And was a TREAT of the highest order. And cost more than my car. A lot more than my car. And I and everyone else there am incredibly grateful to D for bringing. Oh and some Hungarian Tokay with pud. Which I love.

Then we started doing shots of vodka, smoking stale cigarettes that I found in an old drawer and played musical chairs. With additional prizes for dancing technique between chairs. Seven people in their mid-thirties dancing round a table in a tiny dining room is NOT cool. Drunken charade wrestling is also NOT cool. Waking up the next morning and looking after a small child is definitely not cool. But I didn’t have to do that. Most of my guests did though. Urgh.

I didn’t move off the sofa all day. Literally. Except for the occasional toilet break. People brought me food and I had a remote control. I considered wearing a nappy to make the annoying toilet breaks obselete. And I was grumpy in the extreme. And I couldn’t face dealing with a mollusc juice soaked ruck sack. So I left it in the boot of my car until this morning. Gag.

And the moral of the story is that I am getting too old for this kind of behaviour. And it is very hard to plate up food when you are drunk. And Toilet Duck is a fine agent for stink removal. But thanks for coming guests, it was a brilliant night and I love you all very much even if I did rugby tackle some of you during charades.

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