Fasten your seat belts! This was always going to be a bumpy ride! Birthday looming Monday. Preparation is all! Make the most of every minute. Supper invitation on the Friday with foodie friends to kick off, a family outing to Raymond Blanc‘s restaurant this Sunny Sunday afternoon and maybe a meal out Monday eve with friends. And yet…and yet….in the midst of all this joy and well-being at celebrating surviving another year lay the potential banana skin, the snake in the grass, the spanner nestling deep in the works – yes, my team in the F.A. Cup final. This weekend for the last two years has been the same – an emotional roller coaster of a ride, nails chewed to the bone, pounds lost in sweat, tears shed and champagne corks popped like confetti. Two years ago, the day before my birthday we won a buttock clenchingly tight match 1-0 to win the cup.Last year, on my birthday we won the league title, but not without shredding my nerves lengthways through an emotional mangle by only scoring the winning goal to win the title with virtually the last kick of the match! I will be glad, and probably so will my heart, when the end of the soccer season no longer coincides with my birthday.
Friday’s supper began the weekend on the culinary highest of highs. Topographically, this was an Everest of an evening. Great company, fab food and the most entertaining of hosts – Peter Lane of ‘icookyoueat’ and ‘Pete’s Pork Pies’ (check out his sight on the side bar). The whole evening was spent where all such evenings should – in the kitchen. Copious canapés, melting cubes of quiche, a glorious array of salamis made by John and Sarah Mills of Parsonage farm – both splendidly present -chillies and merguez all washed down with ice cold manzanilla. And the best of all was the chance to watch a great cook sashay and whirl elegantly around us preparing the feast to come. Starters were fabulous spinach balls on a bed of spaghetti in an oil, chilli and courgette sauce. Perfect appetite wetter.
The main course was a phenomenal ragu Peter had prepared to show off the best of Parsonage Farm’s meat – a mix of sliced brisket, belly and shoulder pork in the most unctuously rich tomato sauce possible.
Several stunning desserts followed, the pick of which for me was a mouth fizzing home made vanilla, ginger and cardamon ice cream. Laughter, wine, banter and great stories were perfect side dishes – especially the one about the perils of making home made elderflower wine. What a start to my birthday weekend – but then….but then…..there in the shadow of my dreams, waiting to ambush me at 5.15pm on Saturday was my team’s abysmal performance, losing 1-0 to the underdogs.
Whenever my team are on t.v. I get ridiculously nervous. And if they are not playing well I cannot watch. I end up cleaning the already clean kitchen, pointlessly rearranging items in my cupboards, walking round the garden in decreasing circles pruning plants that do not need pruning – hopefully awaiting updates from my son to say we have scored – but yesterday no update came. Cue dark clouds, morbid German cello music, Gothic shrouds and deep, deep depression for an hour….then..I open a bottle….lock myself in the kitchen….put on my music…and cook! And all is….if not exactly well…. a dam sight better!