Off Menu Menu

Good morning!

I still have a not quinsy, just in case you wanted to check up on the progress of my medieval illness. I am still waiting for the results of my MRI scan and I am still patching my life together depending on my health. I almost got better last week and then, after a few days of normality, I woke up on Monday morning feeling hidjus woe, which is very sad times, particularly as this week is one of those weeks where lots of balls have been juggled.

Having said that, I bumped into my lovely friend Rachel yesterday at a networking event and she gave me the card of a woman who is a whiz with an acupuncture needle and who has been helping Rachel with her previously unsolvable vertigo issues. I shall be ringing her today to beg for an appointment to see if she can resolve the not quinsy situation. Wouldn’t that be marvellous?

In the meantime, one of you lovely lot asked me what my dream meal would be were I to ever be invited to guest on the Off Menu podcast and I thought I’d talk about that instead of stabbing ear pain, because it’s definitely more fun.

So, for those of you who don’t know the premise, Off Menu takes place in a fantasy restaurant with a genie waiter who can get you any food you like from any time, place etc. You choose still or sparkling water, poppadoms or bread and then your starter, main, side dish, drink and pudding of choice.

Here goes.

Still or sparkling water – Sparkling for sure. I love fizzy water (to give it its posh name!) The day someone bought me a bottle of Perrier, which was the only sparkling water you could get in the Eighties,  I was overjoyed. There is something extremely pleasing to me about eating and drinking things with fizz attached. Cola bottles, sherbet, Andrews’ Liver Salts, Veuve Cliquot and fizzy water. YUM.  I’d like San Pellegrino (chunkier bubbles) with chunks of lime and lots of ice.

Poppadoms or Bread – Bread please. I’d like a basket of assorted breads like they give you in fancy restaurants sometimes. I’d like a very small cottage loaf to be in my assortment, because I like ripping the top knot off and eating it with salty butter. I’d also like sourdough and something with lots of seeds in it. The bread has to be warm and the butter has have salt crystals in it. There also has to be far more butter than is polite.

Starter – Hundreds of years ago, when I lived in London, my ex husband and I (when we were still married) used to go to a restaurant in Swiss Cottage which is no longer there any more, but which was excellent and where I once saw Mavis Riley from Coronation Street. I do not want to eat Mavis Riley from Coronation Street, just in case you were wondering. I did have the most amazing starter there. It was foie gras on toasted brioche with onion marmalade. I last had it about 22 years ago now, but I think about it a lot. I don’t eat foie gras anymore because I feel sorry for the geese, but it was bloody delicious. And as this is a fantasy restaurant and I can have what I want, I will have this, but without excessive cruelty to geese.

Main Course – This was so difficult to choose. I am a fully paid up ‘nose in the trough’ food lover. I have been lucky enough to have eaten truly magnificent food, cooked by fancy pants chefs in glamorous venues and there have been some stunning meals consumed.  Having said that, I plumped for really, really excellent steak and chips in the end, because it’s just magnificent when it’s right. I like my meat extremely rare and melt in the mouth tender. I like my fries extremely crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. They have to be salty. I like freshly made Bearnaise sauce to dip my chips in. There has to be a decently crisp green salad on the side and possibly a mushroom or two, soft and yielding and cooked in some butter.

Side Dish – What I love about Off Menu (apart from everything) is that your side dish does not have to complement your main at all. It’s a fantasy restaurant, so you just pick all your delicious things. Also, apparently you can eat it all without feeling stuffed and ill.  In which case, my side dish will be Tarka Dahl from Spicy Flames takeaway on Welford Road in Leicester. It is the best Dahl in the whole world. It’s thick and creamy and the lentils are mostly dissolved. It tastes buttery and garlicky. It’s so comforting. It’s replaced mashed potato as my go to comfort food.

Drink – I thought about fancy cocktails or great champagne, both of which I approve of, but as I am allowed exactly what I like, I am having a McDonald’s banana milkshake. Actually, I am having as much banana milkshake as I want, which is usually about one and a half milkshakes worth. I don’t have milkshake very much any more as my sinuses don’t really approve of dairy and go on strike if I have too much. Every now and again I throw caution to the wind and go crazy, slurping milkshake in a devil may care manner and living with the consequences, but in my fantasy restaurant there will be no consequences, so bring it on.

Pudding – Even longer ago than eating Foie Gras in London, I went to a restaurant in Oxford called Gee’s. It still exists, but bearing in mind that the last meal I ate there was a quarter of a century ago, I can’t vouch for it being the same. It used to be fantastic though. I had champagne syllabub there on the night before my first wedding and it tasted like angel spit. It’s another one of those dishes I think about with longing from time to time. As usual, with things like that, there wasn’t enough of it, so what I would like is two helpings of champagne syllabub please. Or possibly three.

So there you have it. My Off Menu, menu.

What’s yours?



5 responses to “Off Menu Menu

  1. You lost me at the milk shake! However, I shall endeavour to respond appropriately…

    Still or sparkling water – Still. I hate sparkling water despite loving other fiy things (Champagne, prosecco, sekt, cava, etc)

    Poppadoms or Bread – Bread, the entire selection at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, especially the bacon studded rolls, because everything really is better with bacon.

    Starter – I was going to go for foie gras too, possibly the version we ate in a small hotel restaurant in Bad Neuenahr, that included a foie gras ice cream, but on further reflection I think it has to be the omelette Arnold Bennett as served at the long defunct Rhodes in the Square back in the day.

    Main Course – Duck in some form or other, possibly as simple as the one we had regularly at the Hostellerie Bois Louis in Pau, which was confit duck leg, accompanied by potatoes fried in duck fat and with a scattering of mushrooms through them.

    Side Dish – you’d be hard pressed to better the Parmesan doughnuts at Frog the other month, though I suppose they’re not really a side dish. Possibly my German grandmother’s red cabbage recipe which is cooked with apples and speck and red and wine, thickened with flour, and seasoned with onion, cloves, vinegar and sugar.

    Drink – A good wine, possibly a Madiran.

    Pudding – I’d rather have cheese¬

    Oh, and Gee’s is still there and is still good!

  2. Yes! Thanks for taking my idea, especially as the second series has now finished – I’m bereft x

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