Daydreaming in our pandemic iso-world is a national pastime. Here is an imagined dinner, hosted by myself and my partner Rob in our new house at Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
There are four courses (well sort of), and four dinner guests from days gone by.
Let’s begin with seared scallops, accompanied by bacon and a puree of sweet corn. I so enjoyed this at The Victory Cafe in Blackheath. The popped corn was just for fun. By the way, scallops are a nod to my (and Rob’s) Tasmanian roots. Despite what people may tell you, never entomb these succulent darlings in a pie! (just saying)
For main course my choice is retro Beef Wellington. Now I must confess I have never actually made or eaten this, but I love pastry, prosciutto, and roast beef! Put them together and I just know it would be utterly delectable.
The beef would be served with green, minted peas and roast vegetables. Lots of parsnips and onion to be included!
THE SWEET TOUCH
Dessert would be very simple…….just raspberries and fresh, whipped cream.
I deliberately haven’t selected wines, because I’m not much of a wine drinker. I’m sure all of my guests would bring along a fabulous bottle of something though. Rob suggests good reds for the main course. And naturally there would be champagne.
OK, something really sweet to finish with. Might only suit me, but never mind…… it’s my party. Dry, crumbly fudge from Penrith in Cumbria. And a bottle or two of Australian De Bortoli’s Botrytis Semmilon. Oh yes, and coffee made from freshly ground beans by Rob.
MY SPECIAL DINNER GUESTS, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Vita Sackville-West, Oh my word, I do admire her. A traveller, a writer, a gardener, and a woman who dared to flout convention in her private life. Her romantic garden at Sissinghurst is my all-time favourite.
Charles Darwin, my great hero. A brilliant scientist, a loving husband and father. Plus, he appears in my first book, The Water Doctor’s Daughters. The child he lost, Annie, played with the water doctor’s children. I once had a magical dream in which he showed me around his library. Darwin visited Blackheath during his voyage on HMS Beagle in 1836. Most scientific stuff is beyond me, but I am fascinated by evolution and at least understand it.
Ah yes, and Dr Victor Ratten, subject of my much delayed work-in-progress biography. Gregarious, charismatic, very clever, and a complete fraud. He might give away a few secrets if I could ply him with alcohol during dinner. He would definitely be entertaining, and well able to hold his own in any company.
Settling on my fourth guest took some serious thought. A much loved literary figure such as Charles Dickens, Daphne du Maurier or Oscar Wilde? In the end I chose a more recent, US writer.
Helene Hanff. She had the same sense of humour as I do, wrote a quirky account of one of my favourite cities in Apple of My Eye, and shared my love of books. I could introduce her to Sydney next day, just as she showed me around New York during one serendipitous visit. If you are interested, CLICK HERE.
I’m sure it would be a memorable night of good food and stimulating company.
Who would your guests be? And what would be on your menu?