Thank goodness for Twitter! Thanks to Twitter I remember what I had to drink last night at the CAMRA Winter Ale Festival. I had a 25 min queue to get in which wasn’t great, and then I ended up on my own because Michael couldn’t face the queue (and I don’t blame him!).
- Devil’s Dyke Winter Ale, made in Reach in Cambridgeshire. 4.2%
- Hopshackle Historic Porter, made in Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, 4.8%
- Iceni Men of Norfolk was quite chocolaty, from Mundford in Norfolk, 6%
Had a chat with Hilary and her partner, and had a taste of his 10% Elveden Harwich Charter Ale, from Thetford, which was very nice indeed. These were all half pints but even so I was pretty tipsy! Met MIchael at the Free Press afterwards for an IPA! I think overall the beers were weaker this year.
I wasn’t going to blog about our dinner with the director, but I’m now writing a short entry for the staff newsletter, so pasted below!
Following tense days of strategic bidding in the Christmas Auction, the Famous Six were delighted to bag dinner Chez Parker in aid of the Milton Childrens’ Hospice. We were met by the dark and mysterious Umberto (well, wearing dark and mysterious leather trousers) who made us feel very welcome and one of the family with champagne, canapés and a big bushy moustache each. We were entertained with a delicious menu, home-cooked by Umberto and Rosmarino and accompanied by numerous bottles from the impressive cellars of Chateau Parker (Waitrose)
- Curried parsnip and butternut squash soup
- Pink Grapefruit Granita (served by Umberto the Gondolier to the refrain of ‘One Cornetto‘)
- Fillet of beef with shallots and horseradish sauce, or, Vegetable en croute
- Brioche and butter pudding, and, Mango and passion fruit soufflé
- Coffee and chocolates
Later in the evening Swedish pop legend Anni-Frid Lyngstad made a solo appearance to ecstatic applause: but sadly the years have not been kind to the ABBA star who appeared for us in a blue boiler suit. Undaunted, and not quite sober, we played a fast-paced Parker-family charades game, which favoured any players obsessed with Top Gear.
Very many thanks to Robert and Rosemary who were great sports, great hosts, wonderful chefs, and who were very generous in donating this evening to the Christmas Auction. We all had a wonderful evening and hope to make another reservation ‘Chez Parker’ at next year’s auction (we will be devising our bidding strategy very soon!)
The Famous Six
I seem to be getting through the seaweed snacks at the moment. I was getting worried that I’m a bit bizarre or have a strange thyroid problem, but I feel somewhat better now that I’ve found that Tesco sells KENDO trendy seaweed rice snacks. If Tesco sells Trendy seaweed snacks in Milton, then these must be fairly mainstream surely?
They were lovely! A bit oily, not seaweedy enough, but they were definitely well worth having again.
I was far too late to read this for the Free Press Book Club, but just finished Purple Hibiscus. One benefit of the book club is that I’m encouraged to try books that I wouldn’t normally read. Purple Hibiscus fits that bill. It’s a story about abuse of a family by a fanatically christian father, and how the family escape. It’s set in Nigeria and the description of the food and the family traditions are really interesting. Overall it was disturbing, and because it was believable, probably more disturbing than many books I’ve read that set out to disturb.
“Purple Hibiscus” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
Michael and I met Jason last night to check out the Light Show to mark the start of the celebrations for Cambridge’s 800th Anniversary. The show lasted about 10 minutes and there were lots of images from Cambridge past and present projected onto the Senate House and Old Schools Buildings. The images were pretty stylish, very sharp and well animated, and contained a few Quentin Blake cartoons, which were good fun, including this one of Darwin:
We wandered along to the Champion of the Thames for a couple of drinks afterwards: it was lovely and warm sitting by the fire. Tonight is the last night for the light show. Eighteen photo’s on Flickr and my favourite still from the show was illustrating Darwinian Evolution.
Continued my foray into new and interesting snacks with Atori Sushi Salmon. These are little snack sticks, flavoured like salmon sushi, with a bit of seaweed. What I wasn’t expecting was the fried fish flakes to be lumps of little silver dried fish. The first bit that popped out was a fish head. The fish head wasn’t very strongly flavoured and also wasn’t very appetizing looking either. Cute bird on the packet though.
Majestic Wine have their staff Christmas Ball in January, because the warehouses are so busy in December. This was Michael’s first and he wore his DJ and I wore my kilt. We got picked up by coach from the Cambridge warehouse at 4:15 for the long drive to London, via Bishops’ Stortford, Stevenage and Enfield, picking up along the way. We played Texas Hold’em poker on the way down, to get in practice for the casino after dinner! The bus arrived at 7, bang on time for the start of the reception in the massive Ballroom at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Hotel. We had a champagne reception and then a sit down meal for the 1000 or so staff and guests.
I got to meet most of Michael’s colleagues from his branch and quite a few from the surrounding warehouses. The meal was very nice: five courses, and buckets (literally) of wine, which you might hope! Unfortunately three of the people at out table were called back to Bishops’ Stortford because their alarm system had gone off and they had to wait for engineers to come out. So there was even more wine to go around our table. I had a lovely burgundy and sauvignon blanc—I’ll be ordering some more via Michael, if he can remember what is was! 🙂 There must have been about a dozen bottles of wine on the table—including a lovely desert wine.
After dinner, we wandered upstairs to play poker in the casino. The dealer was really good: he had a super-speedy deal, with lots of one-handed flourishes and tricks. I lots my £20 tokens betting on triple 5’s (outdone by three 10’s!! Grr). Michael then did rather well and amassed quite a pot from a couple of good hands. I cashed in our last £20 tokens did very well with a pair of Queens—well I had to go all in on that hand (and won). We lost track of the time, and cashed in our chips about 1am. The dealer reckoned we have £4000 pounds with, I reckon we had £400! At that stage we were top of the table, but these things tend to get out of hand towards the end so who knows what the final winning total was. We tried to have a dance but the dancefloor was jammed (and it was the bands final number).
We left about 1.30 and walk the mile or so to the Hilton London Metropole on Edgeware Road. We got a ‘room upgrade’ (again) and it was pretty comfortable. Not that we needed much help to get to sleep after all the wine! Today I’m amazingly hangover free! Michael had to go to work, and thoughtfully the Majestic shops are shut today till 1pm, so we had time for a laze in bed, a relaxing breakfast and a fun bus trip to Kings Cross. I’m glad we didn’t take the free coach back last night at 2am: We’d have got home about 4.30, which would have taken the shine off the night!
Munching my way through a lovely packet of crispy japanese seaweed Tao Kae Noi. It’s quite tasty, but a little oily (9% palm oil in a thin seaweed sheet is quite a bit). The new seafood variety on the back of the packet looks good:
…comprising the freshness of prawn, squid and crab blended on every sheet of fresh crispy seaweed with superior taste…