Many years ago, I spent a fairly miserable few months following a well-known diet - the one that involves counting points with religious fervour for four days, then falling off the wagon completely by going out for a curry that frankly takes you off the points scale before you've even finished your poppadom, followed by a tense weigh-in that results in a disapproving look from a scary lady in the upstairs room of a pub (my weekly meeting really was upstairs in a pub, leading to an often overwhelming urge to order pie and chips and a pint of lager on the way out, just to spite the scary lady - it was something of a vicious circle.)
The diet does work however, because it teaches you two vital things. Firstly, stop! look! listen! THINK! Do you REALLY need to pop that Quality Street into your mouth? And secondly, and perhaps more usefully whilst there are still purple Quality Street left in the tin, the more you exercise, the more you can eat. Now, the rules in the well-known diet I speak of above are a little on the strict side in this respect - something about four hours of aerobics = half a carrot, or something equally draconian, so I have developed my own system that you are welcome to adopt if it seems to suit your own lifestyle. Here are some examples:
- half an hour of light weeding to make the garden presentable for visitors = your own body weight in meat and bread products at the ensuing barbecue
- gentle stroll to local hostelry = unlimited food and drink (including gassy, lager-based drinks) at said establishment
- and, most pertinently to yesterday's agenda, three hours of painting your hallway a nice jaunty yellow colour = a three course dinner at North Star Deli.
Now, I wrote last month of the inaugural Join us for Supper night at this admirable Chorlton deli, and as I take my blogging very seriously, I felt it only right to go back and just make sure that standards had been maintained. The idea is a simple one - a monthly celebration of good, local food served up to nice people while they chat over a glass of wine or two, and this month's - "A Celebration of British Summer Time" - was even better than the first one. Here's why:
1. Lightly cured sea trout with a salad of pickled cucumber, sea vegetables and chardonnay dressing. This stunning starter ticked all the boxes - delicious, healthy and, thanks to the beetroot curing, PINK (it's a little known fact that pink food actually contains no calories, being dainty scoff for fairy folk who would never get off the ground if it did.) The veggie option - beetroot, rocket, lentil & Cheshire goat's cheese salad - was also delicious (what I could get of it), and is here modelled by the lovely Kath Foster, allowed out from her sterling work at Foster's Fish for the night:
2. Rabbit pie with cider and rosemary, served with mashed potato. This one had caused a little consternation from some corners when the menu was first announced, but the Flopsy Pie, made with bunnies who'd been too slow to escape Mr Frosty Butcher's shotgun and cider from the admirable Moss Cider project, was superlative. A proper big, fat, Desperate Dan-style pie made with - as Deanna told us afterwards - suet pastry, and served with rich, gloopy-in-a-good-way mashed potato: it's really a very good job I did all that strenuous painting. You may admire my pie below; there is some vegetarian nonsense in the background that you may ignore in your reverence of THE PIE:
3. Three ways with berries. The dessert was the only slightly weak link at last month's Supper Club; this month it was a staggering, swaggering triumph. The highlight was the oh-so-cute little tower of shortbread biscuits, each topped with cream and blueberries; you can just see it here, bottom right, before I scoffed the lot - it was really a "berry" good dessert *smirks*:
Join us for Supper is excellent value for food of this quality at £25 per head, so keep an eye on the website for details of the next event. Next time, I may even decorate the tricky, reachy, high bits of the landing rather than downing tools halfway up the wall; just THINK how much I could eat then...
- North Star Deli is at 418 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton M21 0SD.