First “post-launch” post–we’ve been busy!
Twenty-two friends (many of whom, in one way or another, had helped with the book) sat down for lunch on Friday at tables set end on end under the trees–
–nicely protected from the sun but rain could be a problem and it has been uncharacteristically wet this year.
The skies were scoured for signs, forecasts checked hourly and finally a prayer went up to the heavens.
We were blessed–not a drop fell the entire afternoon.
A friendly sounding hum rose early from the throng–Ma’s Gazpacho was hitting the spot; as was the mellow Tuscan red poured from a 3 litre magnum–a gift from our friends Keith and Helen.
It–“the book”–was launched.
Hope James–the book’s illustrator–was there and I read this out from our friend Eva Marie’s email, received that morning:–
“Her beautiful sketches brought me right back to your cozy home and the French countryside. I am suddenly missing you and Meredith!”
That’s what they do–they bring the book to life.
Chicken was next, with unfamiliar spices–sumac and za’atar–[see part two--tomorrow-- for the recipe]
An Ottolenghi special that lends itself well to large parties.
Marinaded overnight on Wednesday, cooked in three batches Thursday afternoon and gently reheated–stacked in its juices–an hour before we ate it.
Served with plain green beans, a garlicky yogurt sauce and toasted Moroccan bread.
Then followed two lovely surprises–for me.
Fellow Poldark actor Donald Douglas [his chilled cucumber soup features in the book] tapping a glass and rising during the cheese course, meant only one thing–he was going to speak.
He not only spoke–he sang!
“There is nothing like a Dame” from South Pacific–adapted for the occasion.
“He played Ross the brave and bold
Now here he is grey haired and old”.
Now another surprise.
My old friend George–one of three distinguished judges present–touched me and everyone with his words on long lasting friendship.
What a day!
[A second helping promised for tomorrow...!]