Monday, 14 April 2008

Supper #1 - West Cliff, Whitstable

I was contacted through the Tour Facebook Group by Duncan who said that I must come to dinner in Whitstable. As it turns out we have some friends in common. Duncan lived next door to them in Bow when his family were part of a 'community'. I think Duncan misses that world a bit and was attracted to the exchange of kindness and treats of the Choc Star Tour.

I finished up at my pitch on the seafront - which by now was as sunny as could be - went for a little spin round town, bought a pot of prawns from Wheeler's, wandered around the beach and then headed for my destination. A slightly tight squeeze into the driveway ensued, the lead got fed through the window and soon enough Jimmy was whirring away and I was being ushered into the house.
THE SET UP: Duncan and his girlfriend have been renovating it for the last 18 months and are doing it all sustainably. I like the idea of the hemp insulation and the reclaimed glass floors. The whole place was dripping in evening sun and even the churned up garden looked kind of pretty in an earthy, moundish way.

After a swift pint in the Old Neptune (more old rockers and a UB40 tribute band), a look at their eBay-bought beach hut and a hearty hello with the wild lesbians next door it was suppertime!

: two twinkly-eyed couples who'd been to school/uni with D&H. One of the girls wore pearls and had the most lovely smiley way about her and a kind of innocence that seems almost old fashioned. Her husband was cut from the same cloth. The other couple seemed sweet too - the guy even offered a possible supper party in a cave down in Swanage (very Dead Poet's Society), D, H and me.

WHAT WE ATE: huge fat Whitstable oysters - the girls were pretty terrified of them...the guys not the most gung-ho either, whilst Duncan, a vegetarian, wasn't overjoyed by the mushroom and thyme pate Harry had picked up for him. Various other pates dotted the table as well as breads and a packet of butter. We ate on paper plates and drank champagne from wine glasses. Then came the main course - big, plump chicken breasts with discs of tarragon butter that melted juicily in, flageolet beans and peppery watercress. It was delicious and so touching to see all the effort put in despite the fact that they're basically camping and everything is in boxes.

DINNER TABLE TOPICS: Upcoming friends' weddings; booking hotels for these weddings; my tour; house renovation; Duncan's mum's sex life.

THE PUD: Then came my bit - the first of many chocolate puds to be offered up in exchange for all the kindness. I slipped away to the van to prep it - a chocolate mousse cake that was setting in the fridge. I'd made it the day before whilst still at home. I don't know if this is cheating or not but figure there aren't really any rules as long as I actually produce a pud somehow. I slid a hot knife around the tin to release the dense, creamy number and luckily managed not to drop it on the floor (I'd had a few). I carried it through the house and everyone seemed very excited in a hushed, reverential kind of way and Harry sliced it up into enormous portions...which everyone managed to finish. Just.

I was struggling to stay awake from 10pm. Really struggling, yet I felt I absolutely couldn't go - it would be so rude. This is going to be part of my challenge - how to handle the dichotomy of being treated like a friend and yet being a total stranger. And should I remain neutral and journo-like or try and be the life and soul and thus earn my keep in entertainment value? Or is the pudding enough? Anyway, the bed was a series of cushions on the floor covered with a pristine white sheet and topped off with a big, cosy duvet. It was met by me with the kind of enthusiasm normally felt after a very long haul flight. I slept like a log.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The twinkly eyes must have been due to all the wine - they always go like that! Hehe, yes and the missus does have an old world innocence. Oysters were lovely but I didn't indulge too much as I kept pouring oyster juice down my chin, plus I am still bearing the scar inflicted whilst trying to prise that stubborn one open! Lovely supper and the cake was delicious.