Those of you that have been reading this from the beginning (bless you but really, what are you, suckers for punishment?) will know that the original reason for the blog, and its really quite poor name, was to journal my sponsored weight loss over a three month period last year.
The "eat less walk more" programme was partly successful. Well, the "eat less" bit, anyway. And it's something I've tried to keep going. I've kept the food and drink reasonably modest since then, not at all like the bad old days. So last night was a bit of a trip back in time.
Hogarths is a splendid place. It's a hotel and restaurant in Dorridge, and is gloriously non-corporate. It's called Hogarths because that's the owner's name. Katie and I have been there before, in our "eat anything that's not nailed down" days. Some friends told us they were having a gourmet evening there. Would we like to go?
They emailed us the menu. Five courses, each with matched wine. We deliberated for, ooh, about 0.2 of a second.
I realise that there are a few foodies out there that read this. The following is for you. Those of you not into your food - never mind, there'll probably be something along soon enough about ducks that play lacrosse.
Pressed Worchester pork belly and Savoy cabbage terrine, apple puree, quince dressing
Accompanied by a Chablis, Domaine Laroche 2005
Having been ushered into a dimly-lit dining room, James, the restaurant manager, talked us through each course. I'm not normally a big terrine fan, if I'm honest. It's a small leap from terrine to meatloaf in my opinion. But this was a revelation - the cabbage giving a nice tang to the whole affair. And the wine. I don't go in for these descriptions the wine experts give - you know, "I'm getting limes with an undercut of flint." I tend to find that most wine tastes of, well, wine. But this tasted like very nice wine. The Laroches clearly know their onions. Or grapes.
Pan fried fillet of halibut, scallop, creamed leeks and truffle oil
Accompanied by Les Nuages, Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc 2006.
Why doesn't every meal have its own fish course? That way, you can choose whatever you want for your main and not feel like you've missed out. I used to dislike fish, but after a halibut epiphany last year I'm now a fan. And Katie would sell your granny into slavery for scallops. You've been warned.
Gin, pink grapefruit and parsley sorbet, confit lemon
Seared fillet of Cumbrian beef, braised belly of Veal, baby leek and pommery mustard ravioli, royal potato, truffle jus
Accompanied by Maestro Sangiovese by Robin Tedder MW 2003
It was at this point that I was working out how I could get the chef to marry me. I was looking forwards to a mutually-respectful and long-standing relationship based on this dish being prepared on a regular basis. And the wine was like angels crying on my tongue.
Strawberry and milk chocolate truffle cheesecake, strawberry tuille, balsamic syrup
Accompanied by Veuve Clicqout ‘Demi-sec’ Champagne
Oh. So that's what a tuille is. And I can heartily recommend demi-sec champagne, darling. From now on I shall drink nothing else.
Cheese and ruby port.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Yum.
Finishing off the evening over a 12-year-old Dalwhinnie single malt, I reflected over the preceding three hours. There are people who dine like this all the time. Would it get boring?
It's got to be worth finding out.