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Friday, 18 October 2013

Vive La France

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Being a ‘morning person’, I awoke early as usual and was enjoying having the TV on ‘too loud’, windows open, all the lights on, sitting in my dressing gown drinking a cup of tea with biscuits. Fortunately for me, my wife arose a few hours later, made me get dressed, and restored the environment to 'normal'.
For a couple of weeks now I had been looking forward to today. My friend was due to arrive for a night of beer and curry, followed tomorrow, by a day of eating and drinking on the Isle of Wight on another friends powerboat.

The plan had almost been immaculately made, well that was until my wife informed me on Monday that; “You have had curry once in the last week already”. Whilst I was trying to work out why this may be any kind of issue?, she decided she was coming out with us and we were going to La Perle. Apart from missing a curry, going to La Perle, our favourite French Bistro, is always a pleasure, so I was fine.
Then it happened, ….I opened an e-mail to discover that my friend was not coming as the powerboat had a problem with a prop shaft.
As I sat handling my disappointment like a man, I was concentrating on replying to a couple of business e-mails. Just then a voice mumbled something from the kitchen, and I automatically replied; “OK’.
“You weren’t listening were you?” came the knowing reply. “Well, actually no, as I did not know you were going to speak and that I should drop everything I was doing immediately and come into the kitchen to listen to whatever is of critical immediate importance” …I thought.
What I actually said was; “Of course I was”. “What did I say then?”. A good retort from my wife I thought, and in a mild panic I was trying to unscramble the dumped sounds in the far corner my mind. “You were talking about the fridge”, I said in hope. I then remembered more; “You want to sort it out”.
I must have been close, as “Hmmmm” was the telling reply. Followed by her favourite rhetorical statement; “I hate my husband”. By not moving too much, and keeping my head down alert for any other mumbled sounds, I got through the rest of the day unscathed.
As the evening arrived we strolled down to The Cave ‘without our friend’ for a pre-dinner drink. We were in good spirits and my earlier listening error had been forgotten. (Well, certainly by me at least.) Halfway there I realised that I had forgotten my wallet, “My treat” my wife said, and smiled. Ahhh, she does like me a bit really.
At The Cave a new gin was on offer, and my wife indulged in the ‘Boodles & Tonic’, I went for a perfectly served glass of cold Leffe Belgian beer.
We were first in La Perle and were greeted by our friend and patron/chef Lionel. Him being French, and me being part French from when we emigrated for two months, we kissed. Sadly he kept moving his head and I only managed to kiss him on the lips once.
We did not know it immediately, but in the next two hours we were going to be so full that movement was to become a supreme effort rather than a natural motion.
First, we each tried and enjoyed the new ‘Bellerose’ French beer. Then, the freshly baked Onion Bread with authentic French Butter arrived. …then Lionel wanted us to taste a new starter of ‘Rabbit Terrine Wrapped in Bacon with Storked Pickled Capers, Radish and Fig Compote. This was delicious.
By this stage we hadn’t even ordered our meal, and had we been sane we should have retired gracefully. But we are seasoned diners and knew than to experience fine gastronomy we needed to press on.
Ordering from a menu should of course be easy, particularly as I had decided my starter and main before arriving. However, I had forgotten that I also love French Onion Soup, especially Lionel’s sweet & savoury bowl of loveliness.
It has to said that to pass on the Half of Lymington Lobster & Frites for £19.95 was tough, but so was passing on so many great starters. So I didn’t, I ordered two starters and another starter for main. Kerry did not flinch, and happily accepted my weird order. My Wife simply looked at me in distain and gave a knowing look to Kelly indicating her favourite weirdly humorous “I hate my husband” retort.
Our first starters of French Onion Soup were as tasty as ever. This was followed by my second starter of Tartiflette Style Roblochon Souflee with Bacon and Onion Garnish, which was excellent. My wife would of course been happy to sit there gazing lovingly into my eyes, however with typical Gallic flair, Emily bought my wife a taster of the Cod Croquette, Courgette & Lime Jam with Cauliflower Puree to try. Which of course meant I could enjoy my dish in peace, so winners all round.
By now we were pretty stuffed and our bottle of La Loupe Grenache was still half full, with our main course yet to arrive.
On arrival, my wife’s Half of Corn Fed Roast Chicken & Frites was as generous as it was tasty, and my La Mouclade (Curried) Moules Marinere were fabulous, and thankfully for me only a starter portion.
As we sat savouring our meal, I wanted nothing more than to take my tight jeans off, but my wife rightly considered that this would be totally unacceptable in public.
Having decide that we had eaten more than we should, Kerry arrived with the dessert menu. In spite of my trousers telling me I shouldn’t, I could not stop myself ordering the Hazelnut & Chocolate Parfait, Poached Pear & Pistachio Puree, which when eaten was definitely the right decision.
As we finished our wine and paid the very reasonable bill, my wife did not think our charming waitress, Kerry, would be impressed by my amazing ‘I’ve pulled my finger off trick’. Kerry was polite but bemused & unimpressed, and my wife was right as always.
We were now in party mood, so we went back to The Cave. The place was buzzing with a busy Wine Tasting Evening, so we sat at the bar for a couple of nightcaps. Our spirits were high as we chatted, and my wife even laughed at a couple of my better jokes.
As we happily wandered home, my wife musing at the moon and clouds, and me struggling to move in a forward motion, it was clear that we may have overdone things. On that basis, it was probably a good thing that I was not putting to sea tomorrow!

La Perle
60 High St  Milford on Sea SO41 0QD
01590 643557

The Cave
Independent Wine Shop & Bar
2 Church Hill, Milford on Sea, SO41 0QH
01590 642195

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