05 April, 2009
We're back from four days in the wilds of Lincolnshire (at the historic House of Correction, hence the handcuffs lest you think we travel with them), living a quiet, sheepy, horsey life. We were fed by long walks, creamy mushroom soup, roast chicken, bell ringing (well, we didn't, but we heard it done, and saw the bell tower of the church illuminated from the grounds of our historic house: the girls and John were perhaps less overwhelmed by this than I), touring the glories of the 11th century Lincoln Cathedral, the girls spending all their pocket money on chocolates made by the local chocolatier in our little village, I spending all my money on the few vegetables the local shop had to offer... endless games of a game Emily taught us called "Cheat," involving subterfuge and lies (her favorite pasttimes), John's log fires (tended by his own breath without the aid of a bellows, poor man, but luckily his lungs could take it). Walks across fields filled with new lambs and their mothers who were NOT keen on our interest in their offspring! "The field of hostile sheep," Emily and Avery christened one particular green space. How they loved the drama.
I left home under the slight cloud of a bizarre blogging phenomenon: there was a brief gap in the renewal of my domain name, specifically "Kristen in London," and for about 12 hours on Sunday some random travel/escort service (seriously!) took up residence on my site. Did any of you see it? Blogging squatters, John said, and kicked them off in no uncertain terms, although not easily. What a weird feeling, typing in my address and finding some grinning blonde in a backpack offering all SORTS of services for your visit to London! Sorry, mine's only dull recipes.
Life since our return has been a hilarious, delicious and much appreciated round of dinner parties resulting in a flurry of thank you notes pushed through letterboxes all around the neighborhood. Friday saw us at Emily's house post-holiday being fed pierrade, the most delectable grilling experience of a lifetime. Sadly it appears I cannot get myself a pierrade implement unless I go to France (nice inducement there)... it's a plug-in grill affair involving a VERY HOT stone, central to the table, on which one grills endless bites of Annie's platters of sirloin and duck breast slices, all dipped in mustard brought home from Paris by Keith, accompanied by the simplest potato salad with spring onion and olive oil, roasted asparagus, a broad bean and feta salad... DIVINE. If I get my own machine, I will let you know. There are little drawers beneath for raclette, that luscious cheesey fondue-ish thing I experienced in France. But just the grilled meats were lovely.
Staggering home VERY late at night, then, dragging Avery with us, only to arise the next day and begin preparing our own party for an entirely different set of neighbors (this is the partyingest neighborhood I ever lived in, anywhere, even when all my friends lived in one building in New York). I hit upon the perfect dinner party menu, because almost everything not only can, but MUST, be done ahead of time. Creamy veloute of sweetcorn and rocket, with sauteed scallops, followed by that decadent tart of crab, goats cheese, spring onion and double cream that I am now sadly addicted to. A huge green salad, a killingly rich cheese board and for dessert? An enormous mound of strawberries. Again the latest night, the best conversation, but my God, I'm getting too old for this and all day today I felt about an hour and a half behind in my life. We all sat around like tired cats, doing nothing but rehashing the last week or so, and as a result we feel wasted and over-luxuried.
So... a rare period of austerity will reign in my household. Such as: no bread, no cheese, no mashed potatoes. Instead of a sandwich at lunch, sushi and bean salad. Rice, not macaroni and cheese! Two veg and no starch at dinner. Just until we feel less like slugs and more like springtime.
But what a way to be fat and lazy, surrounded by friends and loving every artery-clogging minute. An ascetic recipe will follow. But right now, I'll go to sleep thinking of... crabmeat and double cream.