Our neighbours, Paul and Liz, are currently in upheaval refitting their kitchen. So, Paul had readily accepted Carol’s invitation to dinner with us on Friday evening. That meant that almost all of Friday would be spent buying and preparing for the meal. I dragged Keith to Morrisons supermarket to see what luck I would have at their fish counter while Carol took the opportunity to start baking her second Christmas cake. There was a good selection of shellfish and the monkfish tails looked good, too – small but good. So, we settled on the following menu:
- Seafood risotto (with prawns, mussels, scallops and langoustines)
- Monkfish with pink peppercorn sauce
- Mince pies and ice cream
- Cheese board
As I made the seafood and monkfish stocks, Keith appeared and declared that the fish aromas didn’t go particularly well with the smell of the Christmas cake, which was still baking. He was, of course, quite right. There are times when I wish we had an extractor hood.
After all the preparation, we managed a swift trip over to Woburn to see its Christmas lights (which are a quite vivid blue) before Paul and Liz arrived armed with suitable ice-breaking liquids. These were very welcome but unnecessary as no ice needed to be broken – they instantly got on very well with Keith and Marlene. I think a good time was had by all and we finally managed to retire in preparation for the morning’s drive to Heathrow for Keith and Marlene’s flight to Vienna to begin their 8-day Danube cruise.