Monday, 20 July 2015

A weekend of old friends starting with asparagus

Ali and Ken on the right. I confess I made them hold the badminton racket/raquet
We don't have many Thursday-Friday-Saturday bonanzas thankfully, more than two days in the kitchen, especially in July heat, and I start to doubt my love of cooking. But these were special groups. Ali (above) and Steve (below) were among the very first to support us when we kicked off in our original fund-raising form. Ali's brought back several other groups but this was Steve\s first return. He'd been busy moving house/building house/getting married in the interim.

Steve on the right, Rachel on the left.
Ali's group were her badminton group. I've played them all; beaten a few. I used to be a keen badminter. Less so now although I must start again - or some other exercise. Fed up of rolling out of bed feeling like I've been beaten up.

Ali's group now hold the honour for having the longest, loudest political discussion debate/debacle ever held in New River Restaurant. This wasn't surprising given the range of views around the table and the lack of timidity of those holding. The discussion was loud, wide ranging, voluble and never knowingly hindered by facts. 

Steve's group was positively sedate by comparison.

Plating designed to take and contain a duck egg.
Both had agreed to my new starter of asparagus. The spears were blanched for 90 second  - no more! - before service and then rolled around in brown butter in a 180°C oven for three minutes. The result was tender without that awful wilt. This was served on a bed of rosemary crumb, with parmesan shavings and some brilliantly smokey, local pancetta (from F. Norman in Oakwood). This was coupled with a sous vide duck egg, served in egg boxes to be cracked by guests - a nice bit of table theatre. Working out the timings of the duck egg was also a bit of theatre. I'll blog more about that soon. Suffice to say that Fabian and I have eaten rather a few in the last few days, with more in the fridge, waiting to be refreshed.

Complete with egg. I was slow with my camera hence dish in advanced state of eat.

The badminters were Thursday, Saturday brought the tennis team. Booked by Helen, the group included a few restaurant returnees (including Bina of coffee conundrum fame). Another lively night. I've never seen an entire table of guests rush to dance quite so quickly. A few bars of Cheryl Lynn's 'It's Got to be Real' flushed the table for the floor. Apparently their tennis club recently had a 'Strictly' evening which may explain their behaviour (Helen was robbed apparently) The men in particular seemed keen to show their signature moves  - see below.

No hoary old tennis puns please. Helen on the right.

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