Well didn’t we have a simply lovely evening last night; a delicious combination – (quite literally – my lamb was succulent and tasty with a curious prune and liquorice puree) – of a perfect guest and sophisticated company. The journey of discovery for those of you who chose the Pan fried skate wing, shellfish choucroute, gremolata butter sauce was hilarious. On arrival we had an (ill-informed) debate as to what exactly choucroute was; initially we concluded it was probably a ‘posh vol au vent’ then moved onto ‘its like a yorkshire pudding’; and then Francophile Sophisticat arrived, having recently returned from France, to inform us correctly that it was actually cabbage – a form of sauerkraut! We couldn’t have been further from the truth if we’d tried! The simple, and obvious, thing to do would have been to ask the French Maitre d’ Francois who was readily available for such a consultation. This was a delightful manifestation of the ethos of the Salon i.e. a curious pursuit of the frivolous enthusiastically egged on by your Hostess of course!
My guest Ceramist Claire Curneen was everything I promised: elegant, entertaining, knowledgeable and exquisitely turned out! I resisted the temptation to comment on her gorgeous pale cafe au lait suede wedge heeled laced ankle boots very daringly worn with black tights; chic personified me thinks! Claire is a talented artisan, a real craftsperson who creations are inspired in part by mythology and influenced by her Catholic upbringing. Over dinner we talked about our respective upbringing’s and how no matter one tries the frame of reference imprinted on you as a child is always there in the background. A moral skeleton within which we live our lives and within which we create a world for our offspring.
In a number of the cards I had written for the sophisticats attending the Salon I had made reference to a ceramic creation of my own (pictured above). I had intended to introduce Claire by showing the heart-shaped box embellished with a mouse and cheese (quite what this says about me I don’t know; perhaps the way to my heart is via food). Of course when I was turning out of the street I live in I realised I had forgotten to pop it in my bag.
I made this ‘item’ at school aged 12 or so; the lid never fitted properly as you can see! I still like it after all these years secretly proud of my achievement for some inexplicable reason. Claire confessed to making a pepper at a similar age, commenting on how the shape of a pepper resembled the human body (the curve of buttocks or the back perhaps). Claire developed her signature style early on in her career and her practice today is the result of an evolutionary process; innovation not revolution as the figures were once naked clean white porcelain and now are decorated with flowers and other embellishments. I was interested to hear Claire note that students often tried too hard to constantly be coming up with new ideas losing the essence of their creativity in the process. As we get older I think most of us realise we don’t need to strive to be clever; I call this wisdom myself!
As is my wont I gave Claire a present to say thank you along with one for her daughter for lending me her mummy for the evening; perhaps I should have also sent a bottle for Claire’s husband who was putting their daughter to bed. I confess I couldn’t remember how old her daughter was nor did I know her name. Driving home I wondered if Ms Mini Curneen would like the Noddy books! I am confident she liked the little parcel of Green and Blacks minature chocolate bars!
After an agreeable conversation with Francois, the Manager of Woods, and feedback from those attending the Salon I have decided to host Victorious Endeavours at Woods in future. The consensus was that the experience was more intimate – we had the room upstairs – and that the food was nicer. Of course as your Hostess your views are important to me so I will overlook the fact the room is upstairs and there is no lift; besides once one is upstairs the loos are there and the outside terrace is awfully convenient for a cigarette! When we arrived Francois had his tie in his hand and attempted to put it on as he walked up the stairs. I couldn’t resist wickedly saying ‘you’ll need to adjust your tie’ at which point he turned round and came back down the stairs saying he’d be up in a moment! Ladies I was only teasing him, a little light flirtation always helps to oil the wheels I find (both personally and professionally)! As I write this I realise he is probably at least 10 years younger than me – shameful behaviour and quite unspinster like; Jane Austen would no doubt disapprove especially as I arrived wearing neither a hat nor gloves, (the latter will be corrected with button soft leather later this season)!
Details of the October and November Salons will be available later today.
With sophisticated and utterly wicked amusement (as always)