Thursday, 1 May 2008

Supper # 10 - ?? village outside Henley

I was too bleary-eyed to even take note of the name of tonights village. We charged out of Henley in Jason's souped-up Land Rover, past village cricket pitches, dead badgers and the place where they filmed Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and about 10mins later we were home. Shally, Jason's wife had called when we were en route and sounded stressed about dinner. I hope it wasn't because of me. People have said that they feel a bit competetive about producing a winning dinner on account of it going on the blog but hey, I'm just excited to be in all these new places.

I have a flat back in London which I love but I don't miss it at all. I wonder how long I'll remain hooked on the tour? It's not even 3 weeks yet....

THE SET UP: Jason and Shally met when they were in the RAF in Weston Super Mare. He's from the north, she's from all over. They have two kids of 9 and 1. They are as complete and conventional a unit as I have so far encountered. I don't think they have guests over a lot which is why I feel all the more touched that they've invited me for the night. Hayley, the 9 year old is very excited; Jason keeps assuring me that she'll calm down in a minute but I think she's great. I'm fascinated by how grown-up she is and how obedient - and how many toys she has! Laptops and DVDs and wiis and 300 teddy bears up in the loft. And get this - one Christmas Jason hired a snow machine and filled the garden with snow so that Hayley could have a white Christmas. Imagine that! And then she gets sent to the 'Naughty Step' which I long to go and have a look at, despite the fact that there's nothing to see apart from a frustrated little girl.

I attempt to be good and drink a delicious cherry refresher but the Macon-Villages is giving me the eye. Here's the thing - I have no trouble not drinking whatsoever, it's just the wrench of not being involved during all these social times. If dinner is being prepared then drink comes too. If dinner is being served then drink comes too. If dinner is over then it would seem churlish not to cap it off with a drink.

WHAT WE ATE: And so it is that Jason steers me along this well-worn path. As Shally looks anxiously into the oven Jason pops a cork. The baby gets put to bed and the four of us sit in the immaculate conservatory. A big, heavy, steaming casserole of lamb shanks is given the stage - it comes from the village butcher and is everything that a shank should be: unctuous, tender, dark, rich and swimming in deep juices that rivulet through the roast veg.

DINNER TABLE TOPICS: Package holidays to Mauritius, Florida, Morocco - and how rude the other Brits can be, Hayley's school and its winter ice rink, Shally's pregnancy horror, Jason's business travel and how they started the brewery.

THE PUD: I decide the best thing for tonight is another chocolate terrine - but I put rum in this one. I am given a giant knife to slice it with and away we go. I love this pud so much and am keen to have second's. They all seem to love it and Hayley thinks it tastes like a Terry's Chocolate Orange...I put myself in her shoes and see what she means.

With the kids in bed we move onto cheese and port. Cheese and Port...nothing can play around with these two. We eat herbed oatcakes with Cashel Blue. The port fills my mouth with delight - its sweetness plunging into the blue-veined tang. I could eat this all day.

MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: I am so excited about getting to sleep. I feel exhausted and fantasise about finding a B&B tomorrow - a place to just lay still and recharge and drink tea.


Anonymous said...

Hi Petra, I'm glad to hear that you have recovered, the name of our village is Peppard Common. Good luck with your adventure, and remember we encourage responsible drinking!!!!

Jason, Shally, Hayley and Jacob.

Petra Barran said...

Recovering, not recovered! About to do a yoga cass which should help...thanks for being so responsible about the drinking!