I dined out with the ladies last week. We went to the Middle Park Hotel, a ravishingly refurbished building. I'd been feeling a bit antsy about going the evening, featuring as it did two potential trouble spots: a) people I didn't know and b) people I did know but hadn't seen for some time. Despite being a bit of an extrovert at work, I become stubbornly unwilling to be social in certain circumstances. The building really was lovely so I started to feel a bit more relaxed. And it was pretty much all downhill from there.
The menu was unrepentantly meaty. I'm not a huge meat eater but I didn't feel like taking ladylike refuge in the fish course. If I go out for dinner I always feel obliged to try something I wouldn't cook at home. So when I saw pig tongue and cheek on the menu I knew it was for me. My nan used to cook calf tongue frequently and I've always liked it (apparently the Jewish butchers down the road do the best tongue in Melbourne). Pig's tongue, for those who've never been there, is rather small and mild. So, top marks for the tongue. The cheek was meltingly tender but I do struggle a bit with the layer of fat that accompanies it. So I couldn't finish that at all. There was also a very rich cotechino sausage. All of this surrounded by a sea of du Puy lentils. Now I figure the lentils are pretty important in a dish like this, with all the fat and fullness of flavor that's going on. These lentils were cringingly, meal destroyingly sweet. In all, it was a very average dish - and an extremely expensive one given the quality. The place clearly thinks it's pretty hot mustard but I didn't really enjoy my meal at all. I'd also ordered some brussell sprouts with chestnuts and bacon. The chestnuts were rock hard and the bacon, well I skipped that because really, how much more pig did I need. So the brussells were good but not $10 worth of goodness. What a shame.
There were also a few conversational issues. Topics covered included: nannies, feeding times, jogging while pushing a pram, sleeping patterns and a newly announced pregnancy. I felt like a right gooseberry. I love my babied friends and they clearly got a great deal of pleasure and support from being able to discuss their concerns with other mums but four hours of motherhood was a bit testing. I am planning a baby shower though and that's quite fun. (I'll get the invos out tonight Donna - promise!)
Going to cook fennel and cannellini bean stew tonight. Actually it's a Sicilian soup but Mr C doesn't like soup so I'm going to persist in calling it a stew.
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