Doing battle with daily dragons

Monday, March 21, 2005

Food of the Gods

I feel compelled to share with the world an extreme culinary experience that I had this weekend. But, keeping to form, you get to hear another story before I get to this one.

The village we live in, up until recently, has been pretty small. Land is a premium here and when the powers that be knocked down the old cement works, (they blew up the last chimney on Christmas Day the first year I was living here. It was a very weird Christmas morning; out in a field with about 200 other people watching something blow up. Happy birthday baby Jesus. BOOM!) a housing company snapped up the land and put roughly 2 million 5 x 5 foot square houses on it. The Rock Star and I went to have a look at one on the pretext that we were a young, married couple intent on buying. (Two out of three isn’t bad.) Of course, the show home was overwhelming at first, especially to two people who have been living in a 6’x 58’ tube for the last 5 years. But then we started to notice that all the fittings were chipboard and worst of all, the toilet in the upstairs loo had been installed so close to the shower, you couldn’t open the door. Mmm.

What I’m trying to say, in my own charming, roundabout way, is that our village is small apart from the new estate full of miniature houses. So one wouldn’t expect to find a four star restaurant hiding out nearby. However, we are blessed with The King’s Head.

The King’s Head is a beautifully converted carriage inn and is run by a rather distinguished French gentleman called Georges de Maison. (My mother in law, however, is convinced that he’s actually called “George House” and from the east end of London, but that’s just her little theory.) The food there can only be described with the rather pretentious term, “divine.” It’s a definite “special occasion” kind of place due to the fact that it’s “vastly expensive.” Luckily for The Rock Star and myself, we were “not paying.” My in-laws kindly treated us.

It’s one of those places that you know is quality from the moment you walk in due to the vast and puzzling array of cutlery surrounding your place setting. (I don’t know about any of you, but tiny knives and spoons that look like they can’t possibly have any sort of culinary purpose make me distinctly nervous.) But the pre-dinner champagne cocktails (with a sugar cube and a shot of brandy in the bottom that send you straight to the ceiling) tend to relieve the performance anxiety a bit.

The signature dish of the place is the Aylesbury duck, which m.i.l and b.i.l enjoyed heartily. I’m a fairly recent duck convert, and still have some reservations about eating the same animal that sits on our jetty every morning and eats out of my hand. I hope that someday the ducks that float happily around our barge will forgive me for thinking that they taste awfully nice with hoi-sin sauce and spring onions.

I personally went for the beef medallions with brandy, cream and peppercorn sauce. I like cows too, but they don’t stare in my window every morning, so it’s a little easier to tuck into a steak.

The Rock Star enjoyed desert particularly due to not only the amazing brandy snaps, but the rather attractive, French, desert cart dolly. (We both have regional accents that make us go particularly gooey; for me, it’s Scottish and for him it’s French.) “For desert, I do ‘ave ze sherry trifle, ze shacolate mousse, ze souflette…” I went for “ze meringue” myself and nearly melted under the table due to its unbelievable amazingness. To top it off, I think French Girl tried to make up for the fact that her accent was charming the pants off of my husband; she gave me an extra strawberry.

The only drawback to our infrequent visits to the King’s Head is to feeling decidedly inferior when trying to prepare dinner the next evening. Especially if one does not actually own a table. The Rock Star and I will be having cod fillets, cous cous and broccoli on our laps this evening, if anyone cares to join us.