If I were to describe the single best thing about my life with the Philosophe, I’d have to borrow a line my father used to like (he said it was from Kierkegaard, though I remain unconvinced of the source): the joy of expectation.
From the day we decided to get married, we have been planning – and executing – wonderful things. First was the wedding (obviously the best of its kind). Then we designed a new kitchen together, and most recently a super sexy bathroom which we are finally getting to enjoy (how nice is it to step onto a heated floor when you get up in the middle of the night? Very very nice). I wrote a PhD too, and then a book. Both would have been impossible without him.
Perhaps best of all is what happens in between the big projects. How browsing the web, or walking down the aisles in a supermarket has become a whole new experience, because my (constantly-running) cooking fantasies actually have a point now – sometimes they end in a dinner with friends around our kitchen table, and other times just something suitably extravagant for the two of us on a Tuesday night while we watch True Blood.
Last weekend I got to play my through a whole fantasy bonanza as I prepared a “retro-kitsch” dinner for some new (and some older) friends. We started with gougeres stuffed with duck that had been shredded from these lovely legs (part of a whole different, earlier pleasure):
I also tried my hand at the outrageous pork belly confit that I have been dreaming about since I saw this. I didn’t actually go as far as to deep fry the confit on that night – I tamely fried up some slices and served them on a leaf of cos lettuce with a caesar-type dressing. Being a little too eager I started them too soon, so they were on the verge of drying out – if such a thing is possible with confit, but they were still crisp and lovely. Good contrast with the lettuce and dressing. (And a few nights later I overcame my prudence and deep-fried the rest of the confit for an egg and anchovy salad. Pork confit croutons. Yes!!)
For mains we had beef ribs braised in coffee, yorkshire puddings and brussel sprouts. I’ve made toad-in-the-hole before (with boerewors!), but never these babies, which this rather poor photograph does little justice to.
I’m still not sure about the concept of having puffed up pancakes as a savoury starch, but people in the know said they were good (I believe them because they ate them all), and it’s certainly fun to watch them exploding out of their little tins in the oven.
For dessert, ice cream cake. Which really means a base of crushed (home-made) ginger-chocolate biscotti, topped with (home-made) ginger ice cream, and served with a warm (home-made) rumtopf sauce – which means plums that have been macerating in rum and sugar for 6 months, then pureed, then heated in the microwave.
By all accounts, it was a great meal, a great evening, and great fun to put together. I can’t take all the credit, of course – we did also drink some very lovely wine, and the table was populated with lovely people, my Philosophe included.
Was it a once off? Certainly not. Such is our life. On Monday we celebrate our second anniversary. Only two years! So young, and so much, still, to expect. If I wasn’t me I’d wish I was.
PS. If you like all things deep-fried, check out Chicken Charlie on The Tonight Show.