They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Now, I've never been entirely sure who "they" might be - some dull, martyrish types perhaps, or people who think that too much fun is altogether a bad thing, especially as some extensive research on my part via the academic method of "Google search" reveals that many believe the saying to be a misquote of something far worse: abstinence.
*shudders at dirty word*
Anyway, whoever said this did perhaps have a point. For various reasons too unprofessional to recount, I was unable to attend last month's Gourmet Evening at The Mark Addy, with the result that I have been cruelly unable to partake of a six-course gluttonous feast for two months. Yes, that's right - eight weeks.
This high level of deprivation meant that I was practically champing at the bit to get my hands on Robert Owen Brown's six tasty courses; and as ever, he didn't let us down. Here is what I put away last night:
- Formby Point Asparagus with Crispy Duck Egg. Apparently, Formby asparagus used to thrive amidst the human waste produced by the good people of Liverpool, rendering it particularly delicious although also presumably in need of a good wash. ROB assures us that it is no longer grown in this frankly terrifying way, although was non-specific about modern methods which leaves me rather suspicious about the whole enterprise. Anyway, it was lovely, served with a hollandaise sauce and a breaded, deep-fried duck egg - a fact that sets the bar worryingly high for the sad little bunch of asparagus I currently have sitting in my fridge.
- Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup. This came with an enormous pile of bread, which normal people left in their bid to stay alive for the remaining courses; it's entirely possible that I may have eaten every last scrap of mine, in a clear example of never having learnt any kind of valuable lesson in life whatsoever. The soup was made with mushrooms from nearby Chorlton, an area where the biggest potential hazard is slipping on an avocado skin; blame ROB for this one, I obviously don't agree AT ALL *tries to keep straight face*
- Dogfish with Bone Marrow Barley. This was a surprise hit - three large, meaty chunks of fish sat astride a soupy, savoury risotto made with barley rather than rice (even the great ROB can't get his hands on locally grown rice - YET).
- Rump of Lamb with Baby Broad Beans and Wild Garlic. Delish - a huge piece of lovely pinky roast lamb, served with a sultry pile of wild garlic. To celebrate the fact that it's the Easter Holidays, I consumed my own pile of garlic leaves and then ate the ones from Mr Liz's plate as well, just because I could. The fact I can still taste them now suggests this is a practice I would do well not to repeat on future occasions.
- Pressed Bramley Apple with Cider Posset. I am not a pudding person, but this was both mine and Mr Liz's favourite course - a dainty terrine of pressed and roasted apples served with a languid blob of ever-so-slightly alcoholic cream. Due to an unfortunate incident linked to my eighteenth birthday party, I am that most rare of creatures - a West Country girl who doesn't like cider, but I found it most acceptable in this format, much to the chagrin of a hopeful Mr Liz.
- Shropshire Blue and Somerset Brie. Now, normally at Gourmet Evening you get an ace cheese - something stinky and/or runny - and a boring, hard, grown-up cheese. I have the former and Mr Liz, a traditionalist when it comes to cheese, has the latter. Unfortunately, he turned his nose up at both these offerings, and I was therefore forced to eat every last bit myself; in a ridiculous bid to limit the damage, I left a cracker. And the butter. And didn't lick the cheese-plate*
*one of the above is untrue.
Remarkably, there were a few empty tables at last night's Gourmet Evening, but following Jay Rayner's fulsome appraisal of The Mark Addy in last Sunday's Observer, word is bound to start getting round just how exceptional the food is here. Remember, it's the last Wednesday of every month, and for just thirty pounds a head you too can eat too much and complain of cheese nausea all the way home - see you next month.