Gold Medal Grub
Kurt does a double-take to get his favourite lunch
Last week, when I listed my ‘Best Lunches So Far’ for you, I did kind of cheat by giving gold medal to somewhere I hadn’t actually eaten at lunchtime. So I thought, in the cause of journalistic honesty, that I better had, and I e-mailed the Royal Hotel to book myself in for a midday Gallybagger soufflé with music in the Conservatory. No go. The twinkling fingers of Mr Simon Fricker don’t do lunchtimes, just Friday and Saturday from 7pm. I would have to decide whether to compromise on my entertainment or my honesty.
To hell with honesty. I booked myself in for 6.45pm Friday night. Music night. I would simply pretend it was a late lunch.
I settled in my favourite corner of the ‘Brasserie’, Buggy, my perfect waiter (what language is that name?), fixed me up with a properly cold tio pepe, and Simon installed himself at the piano, to entertain me and me alone with his musical comedy melodies. I ordered a nice bottle of Châteauneuf de Pape ’07, toyed with the menu, and the ghastly truth hit. Soufflé was .. off!
I sipped my wine, stared at the menu and opted for a Waldorf salad with the other island cheese, and – what the hell – a simple sole. I was peeved: my plans were all awry. But I couldn’t stay peeved for long. The music rolled on, the wine rolled down, and I struck up a pleasant conversation with David and Jenny from Northampton, at the next table, over their gaspacho and Ventnor Crab. Must try that next visit.
Then, in no time, it was that time. Simon’s recital was done, and he joined us for a nightcap and – oh, dear – the bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape was empty. Had I …? Oh,dear. And Red Fred was waiting for me in the (free) carkpark.
But Good Angels were at hand. David and Jenny don’t do alcohol, and thus, our convivial evening done, I was just ever so slightly shamefacedly chauffeured up to the top of the Downs.
I bid my ‘angels’ goodbye and ... realisation dawned. I had taken to dinner my one and only jacket -- more as a prop than for propriety – and it was still hanging over the back of my chair at the Royal.
Chuckle. You know that ages old trick? When you want to be invited back somewhere, you ‘accidentally’ leave your gloves. Was my subconscious at work?
I mailed the Royal. Please would someone rescue my (blush) abandoned clothing. Certainly, and had I enjoyed my ‘soufflé and music’?, inquired the management. ‘Soufflé was off’, I groaned.
The response came swiftly back: ‘Anytime you want to come for the soufflé, just let us know, and Alan Staley will make sure you have one’. Well! That’s some sort of service!
My morning’s duties done, I duly popped into Red Fred and headed for Ventnor. ‘May I have my jacket, please, and would it be possible to say hello to Mr Staley?’. Chef Alan emerged from the kitchen. ‘I’m Kurt, the soufflé man’. ‘Any time’ he smiled. It was 12.30pm, and fate had opened its arms. ‘Er … such as, now?’ I ventured. ‘Why not’.
So there I was, once again, back at my table in the corner, tio pepe in hand … it was ‘take two’! … only the music was missing. And, naturally, the red wine. And here came my Gallybagger soufflé. Ahhhhhhhhh.
I’ll swear it was even better than it had been the first time.
And now I can truthfully report that this is Gänzl’s Gold Medal Lunch of the Isle of Wight.
Unless, of course, you can find me something better.