Sunday, 2 September 2012

Feasts for all senses

Once again a quiet week at Contrary Towers. And when I say quiet, so busy we can’t actually remember what we’ve done. There was some study done over the Bank Holiday weekend, then actual work, a late night prom where it rained in the RAH). Thursday was an early night, followed by a very lovely Friday with librarian friends.
Friday was the start of a very busy weekend and there was virtually a timetable so I could fit it all in. Having recommended the consistently good Brindisa Tapas , it didn’t disappoint. We happily tucked into croqjettas de jamon, padron peppers, rosemary encrusted manchego, a plateful of cured meats and a very nice bottle of Spanish red Alaia 2009 Tempranillo. All very lovely, and accompanied by stirring political conversation, and the usual nonsense about kilts, knitting and cigars. After all, we are librarians.
On Friday another friend had invited me to the Saturday matinee prom as he had a spare ticket. What could be better than going to a prom not knowing who was on, what they were playing or even what we were going to do after? This is why for the second time this week I was in the Moet bar, exchanging gossip over yet another bottle of friendly fizz. The fourth member of our party turned up with literally a minute to spare and we tripped hastily over the already seated people in our row to get to ours. The late lovely had had the foresight to bring a fan; doubly important because it was quite sauna-like in there, and also the organist was very young and extremely fit. He also appeared to wearing a black fishnet vest and sparkly trousers. This was going to be no ordinary organ recital.
Cameron Carter tackled the large organ as if it was a wild animal to be beaten and subjugated; his mastery of this impressively complicated bit of musical machinery was incredible. How he made so many noises with it, using just his feet left me stunned, and though his re-imagining of Bach classics might annoy some organ purists, I actually thought it made organ music worth listening to. No simple annoying church plinky plonking here. As a self confessed organ obsessive, he left us in no doubt of his genius when he brought out the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and made it sound like a piece we’d never heard before. His rather funky Rule Britannia left the grey beards scratching their heads but I loved it. What an appropriate encore for a prom.
Cute bees!
After a brief regrouping we meandered off to a stunning little shop called the Sampler. On first sight it was rather a brightly lit bewilderingly busy little off licence but then you read the instructions. You get an ‘oyster card’, top it up with cash, and meander around the shop sampling a fabulous array of wines. The dispensers are like work coffee machines only far more magical. There are 3 sizes – a dribble, a goodish measure and a glass; these range in price from 30p for a dribble of ordinary to £50 for a glass of something rather extraordinary. It is a good idea because for about £15-20, you can get to try wines that you wouldn’t have the courage to buy in a restaurant. In order to keep the palate fresh and stomach lined, they offer excellent snacks of cheeses, bread and sausage. In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere, a dog chases a wine cork and the staff are infinitely entertaining.
Someone may have spilt a dessert wine everywhere but at least I’ve found a new eau de cologne. The scent of berries and chocolate followed me around all evening, watch out Jo Malone!

A sample of quail was perfect
After more ridiculously frivolously foody conversation and organising a sherry and tapas night, someone mentioned Lahore, the best budget Indian restaurant in London. A date for dinner was discussed and dismissed with ‘why don’t we get a bottle here and go now?’ My heart sang. My friends can be as contrary as me! So off we popped to Aldgate East for a mixed grill big enough to feed the entire restaurant, quail, prawns the size of lobsters, mountains of lamb chops and a field of Bombay potatoes. Anyone with half a taste bud should come here. With the bottle of incredible Spanish Clio – the universal favourite from the Sampler, we demolished the lot. Even the picky member of the group who wasn’t happy with the food choice, declared it was the best Indian meal he’d ever had. We were four very happy and replete epicureans on leaving there.
What a day of delights. From friendship, musical perfection, and memorable food, we probably broke all manner of diets, health guidelines and dinnertime conversation taboos but do we care? Not likely!

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