Tuesday, December 12, 2006

11th December - A Celebration Day

11th December and celebration time. We combined a birthday and a wedding anniversary to have a mystery day out. Beginning with a coffee at Maison Blanc, a present was given and received with surprise and delight. Something to take on holiday later on.

Then home to change into something smart to take us to dinner in Mayfair much later. We caught the train to London and walked over Hungerford Bridge to the National Gallery and their superb Velazquez Exhibition. We enjoyed the audio commentary - after first turning the volume down as we were initially deafened!

By the time we emerged, it was dark in Trafalgar Square and the Norwegian Christmas tree was looking majestic. Carol singers were performing in its shadow and the evening felt brisk. We retraced our steps to the bridge and crossed back over River Thames. We were heading for the London Eye and a champagne flight! We shared our gondola with six others and enjoyed Laurent-Perrier champagne as we circled high over London. The clear night gave us fabulous views to the outposts of the capital! This is such a fun thing to do - I must try it in daylight, too!

We descended all too quickly, and then needed to find a taxi. Probably the best place would be Charing Cross - the right side of the river for our next destination.

Soon we were being driven across town to Grovesnor Square and our destination - Brian Turner Mayfair. Brian Turner is a Michelin star chef who cooks delicious British food in his own special way. We studied the menu over a small glass of chardonnay in Turner's Bar, then moved through to our table. Our starters were Aniseed infused Rolled Duck Pancake with Pear Dressing and Broad Beans, and Cray Fish and Crab Cocktail with Seaweed and 'Horseradish Caviar' (this was pale green and popped in your mouth in a very satisfactory way!

Main courses were the same - Finnebrogue Venison loin, Potato and Parsnip Terrine,Pear Relish and Chocolate. We had some red cabbage and broccoli, too. And we also had a wonderful bottle of 2001 Brunello di Montalcino, which complemented the richness of the venison, admirably. After something of a pause to allow our meal to settle, we chose our desserts - Soft Centered Chocolate Pudding, "Jaffa Cake" Ice Cream; and Savarin of Pear Compote with Chocolate Ripple. Mmmm! Lovely!

Then there was just enough time for a cup of Earl Grey and a petit fours. The latter were served on a plate decorated with Birthday and Anniversary greetings - a great touch to end a memorable dinner. But just when you think its all over something else happens - and through came our chef, who gladly autographed his book 'Favourite Britsh Recipes' for us; and we were able to compliment him on his wonderful cooking. All that remained was to find our taxi home, and collapse into bed after an amazing day out.