Well, it's been a busy old week. So far, I have spent three days in Edinburgh, shown exceptional bravery at the dentist, and finally got round to watching the Sky 1 adaptation of Thorne, a series so sexy that it has forced me to completely re-evaluate BBC1's Sherlock; there was I thinking that Benedict Cumberbatch running around a museum in a long coat pretty much set the bar as high as it it could get, until a period of protracted man-angst between David Morrissey and Aidan Gillen in a disused yard (with Aidan sitting down, obviously, to conceal height issues) raised it quite out of sight.
But all that pales into insignificance compared to the fact that today, for the very first time, I have had tripe. I have had a deep-rooted fear of this item ever since I witnessed a colleague purchase a quivering bagful at Bury Market, where it wibbled and wobbled all the way back to work before draping itself obscenely over a shelf in the communal fridge. Robert Owen Brown, the masterly chef at The Mark Addy, clearly suspects that many of us have had similarly traumatic experiences, for the first course - a bonus, gratis, for-nothing course - at tonight's Gourmet Dinner was a little dish full of tripe. He exhorted us to try it, and I did; I wish to say no more about it.
So, back on track with the six proper courses, and this is what we had:
1. Sweet Chestnut Stuffed Quail with Crab Apple Jelly
2. Anglesey Oyster and Morecambe Bay Shrimp Soup
3. Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese and Dandelion Rarebit
4. Rare Breed Pork Belly, Loin of Beef and Lamb Chop
5. Crispy Rice Pudding
6. Garstang Blue and Old York Sheep's Cheese
I have the following comments to make about the meal in general:
- my husband's favourite course was the rarebit, a deliciously crisp square of cheesy perfection. Yet, when I offered to pull up a few dandelions from the garden next summer and whip up a similar gastronomic treat he paled slightly and seemed most ungrateful.
- it is little wonder that Robert Owen Brown is Manchester's favourite chef, based on the following evidence: he couldn't decide which meat dish he wanted to give us for main course, so he gave us all three. Case closed.
- an interesting ethical dilemma: if your waitress accidentally gives you a plate of cheese each rather than one to share, and you don't realise the breach of etiquette until you have started eating, do you stop and return one of the plates? No, thought not.
- rice pudding has no need of enclosure in a giant crispy ball. It just means that people who are on their fifth course and who are wearing a slinky dress have to patiently scrape the rice pudding out of the hamster ball you have spent so long carefully putting it in.
Crispy rice pudding aside, the meal was faultless, and as usual we have already booked for next month. I have promised my husband that I will finish this post with his punchline, even though it would make more sense if the meal had been rubbish, but here goes. The Mark Addy Gourmet Dinner: what a load of tripe.