Clearly, the Daisy Garden did not look like the above photo on the evening that DJ and Steph came to dinner. For a start, it gets dark around 16:00 in London early January. Secondly, Daisy (that’s Janie for the uninitiated) has invested in some fancy new garden furniture since the photo was taken – painted hard wood rescued from old houses in India, recycled as garden furniture, as it happens.
The idea for the dinner started to germinate back in November, when a few of us gathered for an informal Z/Yen/alumni get together – briefly described if you click here. Janie chatted with Steph, phone numbers (or WhatsApp accounts) were exchanged and the rest is history.
Janie has long wanted to try her hand at matchmaking, possibly because she and I were (initially inadvertently, I think) match-made by Kim, DJ’s sister, back in the day. “The day” was the late summer of 1992, which is approaching its 25 year anniversary, so I’m planning a fair bit of retro Ogblogging about that era as this year, 2017, unfolds.
Daisy put a great deal of effort into the evening. I’m not sure the following activities were intended as research, but we did go to see Through The Wall (a rom-com with matchmaking at the plot’s core) in December – click here. Daisy also spent some time reading about panda behaviour, perhaps seeking insight into low stress lifestyles and/or marathon eating routines.
To some extent, the evening was also “tongue-in-cheek payback time” for DJ, who had hosted us for Christmas this year so lavishly – click here – I’m not sure I have recovered yet, two/three weeks later.
But returning to the evening of 7 January. Possibly in a nod to our own early interactions, Janie cooked one of her signature dishes as the centrepiece of the meal; shin of veal in a clay pot. This dish is quite similar to the ossobuco (traditional style – none of that tomato-laden sauce) Janie cooked the very first time I went to her place for a meal.
But the shin of veal was merely the centrepiece:
- preceded by goose rillette and vegetable nibbles;
- accompanied by rice and sprouting broccoli;
- followed by a platter of fresh fruits and/or chocolates…
- …then followed by cheeses.
- Prosecco (for three)/decent white wine (for me);
- Some fine gran reserva Riojas, which (as it happens) DJ gave me for my birthday and I had been saving for a suitable occasion with suitable food;
- A bottle of vintage port for the cheese, to more or less guarantee “payback” to some extent in the overindulgence department.
Daisy and I were grateful for a quiet day the next day and an extra day off Monday before returning to the day jobs.
So why a photograph of the garden to head up this piece? Well, one of the most memorable characteristics of the evening (putting aside what good company everyone was, what a superb meal it was and how much we all enjoyed ourselves) was the mildness of the evening. So much so, that we were able to take our drinks and nibbles at the start of the evening in the garden, under the glow of the patio heater, which felt quite magical in January.
Stop press! Update!
Daisy has just seen this Ogblog posting and kindly taken a picture of the magical garden tonight, so readers might see what it looked like (except without the wine, nibbles and the four of us enjoying the evening, of course).