I’ve only just caught up with a certain Sunday newspaper’s Food Monthly featuring the 50 sexiest places to be fed.
After the bedroom (obvious but eminently practical), the hurly-burly of the chaise longue and the dining room table, I couldn’t guess what other 47 locations there could possibly be.
Disappointingly, the article was merely a list of restaurants around the world.
Let’s face it. Far from being a sexy place, a restaurant is a pretty ordinary place to be fed. Start getting fruitier than the raspberry pavlova and you’ll get black looks from the other diners. They want to enjoy their food. They do not wish to view body parts or feel like extras in the “Fall of the Roman Empire.”
The “Harry Met Sally” scenario only ever worked on celluloid. Try that in real life and you’ll be ejected and sectioned before you can issue forth “Yes! Yes!”
I firmly believe it’s possible to achieve a modicum of romance with a picnic. It doesn’t have to be champagne and strawberries but it’s probably best if it is. Champagne didn’t earn its reputation as the Exocet Weapon of Seduction for nothing.
One of my early attempts at a romantic picnic was at Brean Down, Somerset. At the tender age of 18, I imagined the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. (Yeah, I know…. I know…) After all, to my certain knowledge, my father was never as blissfully happy as when faced with a hot, substantial fry-up.
Anyway, I thought I’d surprise and delight my beau with some home cooking. For some reason hidden in obscurity, I decided to do something creative with gelatine, ham and salad cream.
We strolled to Brean Down overlooking the English Channel, spread the picnic rug in a nice spot avoiding the herd of Friesians and their copious piles of manure and the huge thistles that for some reason, the cows avoided eating. It had a gloomy view of the Bristol Channel (admittedly not v inspiring but in those days beggars couldn’t be choosers) and I opened the wicker picnic basket.
I was sure he would be impressed with my home cooking. Ham mousse it was called. (I’d got the recipe from the side of the gelatine packet). I didn’t have a proper mould so had had to improvise with a couple of mum’s Pyrex bowls. The mousses (mices?) set and turned out beautifully.
Back to the picnic; I lifted the lid of the container to reveal my culinary triumph – a duo of pale pink opalescent orbs, nestled in a bed of shredded lettuce, glistening wetly in the afternoon sunshine. Approximately DD cup size.
The bloke’s face contorted. I hadn’t expected him to be quite so impressed. It was a few seconds before he could speak.
“What are they?”
“Ham mousse, of course.”
“Why do they look like that?”
“What, pink? That’d be the ham… er with some salad cream…and….”
It was not going well.
Sadly, he was not aware of ham mousse or remotely tempted by it and uttered that deeply depressing phrase “So, what else have we got?”
The bottle of red and cocktail sausages saved the day. Just as well or the relationship would probably not even have lasted the walk back to the car.
Having covered how NOT to do a romantic picnic, we’ll press on to the good stuff.
The magazine article sparked a bit of debate here at Pig-Dog Towers. The male view is that food is secondary to drink when it comes to romance. In my experience however, girls of a more romantic disposition do tend to want a dinner somewhere along the line. With that in mind, here’s my take on Romantic Places To Be Fed:
Location One: Camusdarach Beach in the gloaming, watching arctic skuas fishing. Mallaig prawns and mayo. Chilled Chablis.
Location Two: The Summer Palace, Beijing, depths of winter. Not cheap as need butler bearing proper Peking Duck with accessories and chilled Louis Roederer. Oh – and matching woolly thermal knickers, gloves and socks.
Location Three: The old wartime radar station high above Rhossili Bay, Gower. Watch spectacular sunset with a packet of Hobnobs and a bottle of Shiraz.
Location Four: A rowing boat in the middle of Grasmere on a summer evening when everyone else has gone home. Serve Grasmere gingerbread and The Macallan 12 y old single malt.
Footnote: The image on the front page of this blog was taken not far from Camusdarach looking towards Eigg and Rhum in the gloamin’. Perfect.