We were invited to dinner again by Antoinette Savill.... I presume, as this was our second invitation in as many months, that the hubby and I were either well behaved the first time or amusing, or possibly both!
As Antoinette is a cookery writer, I am endlessly delighted to attend somewhere where I get fed lush food AND get to gossip unashamedly with interesting guests. Last night was no exception......
The day had been really warm and the evening weather didn't disappoint either, we nine sat in the garden sipping a multicolour of wines, chatting until we were called to table, while three hilarious terrier shaped dogs lashed up and down silently. I swear, not a peep out of them! It was like a funny silent movie.... in colour... with wine... I digress..
We had a warm soup to start; deep bottle green with a swirl of cream and a depth of flavour.
'Guess what it is,' she asked, smug, so you knew it was going to be tricky.
'Remember I live near the stream, woods and pastureland....'
The soup wasn't peppery, so watercress was out. It wasn't wild garlic, I think we've almost passed that season....... I couldn't place the taste.
'Nettle.' The guest to my left called. He was American and I was impressed. It was delicious, made deep and rich by a pheasant stock.
Next came the main course of pheasant, roasted and served in the most unctuous, plate-lickable, sauce. Red cabbage with apple, courgette and beans on the side, gave the dish a summery sweetness. .... In a restaurant I may have dismissed this dish as something for late Autumn or winter. Not so! It was light but flavoursome. moreish. Later in the car, as I waxed lyrical about the taste and texture of the bird, husband bragged that he'd been served a decent portion of pheasant but no vegetables (he doesn't eat his veg, naughty boy!) AND when the rest of us were eating the salad course, he was slipped a second plate of pheasant! Top hostess is Antoinette, husband was seriously impressed...... I can't believe he gets rewarded for not eating his greens...... humph!
After the salad came the naughty section of the meal: Pots and pots of home made ice cream made with goats milk. So many flavours, we had a job strategically placing them on the table. At one stage it did look that one male guest was barricaded in, stuck behind a heavenly ice fortress. He ate his way out ... Damson, lemon curd, ginger and rhubarb, lavender, banana and hazelnut to name but a few. All served with exquisite Florentine biscuits, made by another guest, a chef to the Royals no less! [Tap your nose in a knowing way.]
Yet another guest spoke to us of her apple orchard, close to Leominster. We'll need her help and expertise when our cider orchard arrives as bare root stock in November, and she has a mulberry tree, so I hope she'll advise us on that too.
While the party was in full swing we departed for the hills, to relieve our lovely babysitter who'd been out all day competeing with her daughter and her horse. They've qualified for the Horse of The Year Show so we'll definitely be going to that in October to cheer them on.