Thursday, 5 June 2008

Supper # 26 - Lancaster, Lancs.

A fortuitous e-mail appeared in my inbox while I was still out on the moors. Gina, an Oxfordshire discovery, just happened to be enquiring about my proximity to Lancaster on that very night. 'If you're anywhere near you must come to supper', she urged and I didn't even need to look at my haggard old road map to know that this would work just perfectly.

I'd been back to Morecambe to have a scout around/eat some potted shrimp/chat to some locals and arrived in Lancaster ready and rearing to go. Carys, who I'd never met, opened the door to me and I immediately felt as though I knew her - she is the dead spit of my friend Manuela - and so felt right at home.

The trouble was the van. The plug-in situation was pretty tenuous: a succession of three leads snaking through her back garden, along the pavement and over the road to a far flung Jimmy. "You'd better turn your wing mirrors in" said a passer-by "or they'll kick them in when they come back from the pub". No need to ask who, mindless morons of course. Yes, I know them well...may have hung out with a few in my time. May even have been given over to a bit of mindlessly moronic behaviour myself. So I started to fret - and even more so when Carys dropped into the conversation that her VW camper van had been set on fire out there by the same

If only I could sweet talk a neighbour into letting me pull up to their driveway and plug in through the letterbox, I thought. And with that idea out it was only a matter of moments before I found myself talking to a lovely man called Graham. He didn't know me (obviously), didn't know Carys and was already late to meet someone for a drink - and yet he was kind enough, on hearing my plight, to move his own car, see me into his space, feed the lead through his door and then toss me the keys to his house, telling me to move the van at my leisure the next morning. Unbelievable. I fairly skipped back up to Carys' house with delight and tucked into the glass of bubbly that was passed my way with relish.

THE SET UP: Carys looks about 35 but has four kids of 20 and below. She lives with her husband (absent on this occasion) in a house to die for. It's all painted wooden stairs and great, decadent high ceilings. The bookshelves sigh with fascinating reads and the garden seems made for teatime. She has invited Gina and Miriam up from London/Oxford for Miriam's birthday supper. I am to bring the brown.

There is an air of excitement about dinner. Gina thinks it's 'witchy' that we coincided on Lancaster and the mood is one of settling into the evening knowing that we all have lots of interesting stories to share. As Carys cooked we got stuck into an evening of candle lit confessions.

WHO CAME: Gina, Miriam, Carys and moi.

WHAT WE ATE: Smoked salmon on rye bread to nibble on, then baked, salted chicken legs with tzatziki, pitta, cous-cous and green salad. It's the perfect summer food and I could eat it forever. Great juicy chicken eaten with cold, tangy yoghurt and salads - my favourite.

DINNER TABLE TOPICS: Miriam's family's move from Catalunya to Essex in the '70s - how her brilliant artist father had tried for years to introduce Halstead to the concept of whole foods, macrobiotic food, a renaissance-style restaurant with spit roast game, jugged hare, wild winter salads....and all to aghast non-customers. We talk about the sea glass up at Easington Colliery, Co. Durham, that was all washed up from an old glass factory and all the ex-miners who've taken collecting it up as a hobby. Gina makes us laugh with a hundred different stories of brief encounters and then we all share our own tales of interludes with hot AA men. I learn about Sirius. Serious.

THE PUD: I made a warm Cloud Forest cake. It had to be cake for a birthday but it also had to be unfussy. I threw all the ingredients together and slid it into the piping hot Aga with a watchful eye. Out it came to oohs and aahs and onto it went a silken layer of melted Valrhona. It really is the business and managed to silence us all for a good few moments.

MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: Miriam was going to do our Tarot but it got too late - we were all so sleepy. I was shown up to Carys' daughter's room where I slept to the sounds of smashing wing mirrors on the street below...or maybe I dreamt that bit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Cerys looked like me!! I met someone the other day who totally reminded me of you. Haven't visited your blog in a while... my you've been around. I am salivating from all the amazing food pics. Besos Me xxx