A week on and I’ve almost stopped digesting.
It was, the loveliest of meals. There was candlelight, red berries and crackers.
Huddled together were some of the oldest of friends in a small flat looking out over London Bridge. There was the added benefit of the attendance of both an Art Director and the guidance of a man who spends 18 hours a day toiling in the test kitchens of the Fat Duck.
We were in safe hands.
There were eggs for breakfast and presents to be opened.
There was chestnut and mushroom soup, gilded with fried tinsel of sage and pancetta. And a good dash of cream.
There were stuffing cups, made in a muffin tin with pork sausage meat, chestnuts, almond meal, onions, garlic, mushrooms and crowned with a slcie of dried clementine. These were then lovingly swaddled in prosciutto.
There was a proud turkey which was propped on a trivit of eschallots and garlic in the oven for a multiple of hours. Inside its cavity were some oranges and lemons. It would, on occasion be basted with a what can only be called a glutton’s serve of butter. A fun game started where every time I turned my back more animal fats and salt would be added to the meal. A culinary Marco Polo. A real version of hide the sausage. Fat, as they say, is flavour.
On the side of our bronzed beauty there were two sauces; a zingy cranberry, made from fresh berries and dried, both which had a bath with some red wine, orange zest and the bobbing presence of a cinnamon stick. And then there was the gravy. Shiny with butter and sweet with port. In the pot went the neck and some extra bones, some chicken stock. To that we added ome herbs. And some salt. Salt, as they say is flavour too.
On the side there were brussel sprouts and a green salad. There roasted carrots and parsnips. There was a potato dauphinoise that was a fine balance between milk fat and starch, which tasted like heaven’s lounge room was now next to your cheek.
There was light meat and dark. And there was the beauty of having someone who really knows what they’re doing taking to your bird with a sharp knife.
There was a playlist that included the delights of Bing Crosby and ‘all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth’. There was no snow, but there was briskly cold air to chill the wines. There was red wine and white.
It was, the loveliest of days.
There were cheeses, carefully chosen at Neal’s Yard the day prior, by one who loves cheese more than everything. But at the end of the day, even they were a bridge too far. Much later out of duty we managed a scraping of pudding with ice cream, chestnut and chocolate sauces.
We missed the Queen’s message, but we wouldn’t have missed a screening of the below for the world. .
Looking back, it was, just lovely, actually.