Well that was stressful.
Day one of one hundred and fifty odd started at 6am and no shower. No shower as mine is still shower-headless and I couldn’t really bring myself to wake any of the lads to borrow theirs.
And so out I stepped into the snow – yay!! (The first fall since I’ve been in Meribel) – and into the rather beaten up Volkswagen Kangoo that I’ve borrowed. I’m heading down the mountain to Super U – The French Sainsbury’s I suppose (definitely no Waitrose!) because, yes, you guessed it – I forgot all the ingredients for the guests breakfasts. Ooops: massive fail. In all fairness to me some things come from ‘stores’ and I’m not really sure what does and what doesn’t and also I’ve got a fair amount on my plate.
I head to the chalet first though to put on the Beef Bourgingonne or ‘Braised Beef in Burgundian Wine’ as Michel Roux has called this recipe.
I’ve a long day ahead of me and the stress of forgetting major elements for the menu I’ve designed continuously simmering. It never boils over but it’s always there.
The menu for day one:
Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup
The aforementioned beef
Pea and Mint risotto for the veggies
Heston Blumenthals Lemon Tart.
(Time consuming but pretty damn worth it – you might need a probe.)
Sounds pretty easy – especially when you consider that every day, other than Monday and my day off, I’ll have to cook three options for each course. But with a new kitchen and the unfamiliarity of plating up eighteen dishes on my own all at once it is quite a nerve-racking undertaking.
The guests arrive as I’m still bashing round the kitchen trying to find pots and pans and knives and tasting spoons that aren’t sullied. They settle and as champagne is served my canapés go out. Rob, my faithful host and a good lad occasionally, is about to begin his welcome speech – all health and safety and bore and more – before I step out of the kitchen and ask him at what point he was planning to lay the table. Pause. A beat. A look of confusion on his face changes to an expression mixing shock and blind panic. I can see him thinking up an answer before he whispers something to me. ‘Shit’.
So dinner is held back as I try to pause my mains risotto and make sure that doesn’t end up like Robs whisper.
Not a great start. But as the evening progresses things start to level out and we get into a bit of a rhythm. Unfortunately however none of the beats of said rhythm include washing up and then one of our guests arrive (he came on a later flight to his family as he was in court in the morning – on the Barristers side of the table I’m assured) and so we set in motion the meal again. A man’s got to eat. All three courses. Hopefully it came out alright but I suspect the risotto was a little over by that point. Once you get the rice just right you can’t really let it go cold an expect it to heat up well.
Overall I think the service went well. In hindsight my main was a little large (the ox cheek bourgignon) but all these things will come with practice. The tart went down well.
The cheese too. They’re on holiday you know… and it’s Christmas.
So although I was banging around like a Parkinson’s sufferers’ elbow at times… I got there in the end but left much room for improvement.
Day one down. Now for the rest.
Those pans though… they don’t clean themselves. We were there until 2.