When our scheduled appointment to meet up came around a couple of weeks ago, alarm bells sounded off further still as MiMi dropped me a line and said "I hope you like bones!". This was all starting to sound just a touch macabre and ever so worrying as I've also seen photos of her on t'internet with blood pouring from her eyes. Sensing whiffs of danger, the occult and possibly devil worship, I decided that it would be best to get seats by the window in The Hat and Tun where we were to have lunch together. I got there first and when the barmaid came over, I ordered a pint of London Pride and asked that she keep a lookout out for me. Looking puzzled, she simply replied "sure" and walked off with a frown. I nervously took a sip with eyes hooked towards the door before looking down at the menu, trying to focus on the words, trying to put myself at ease. When I looked up again she was standing there in front of me, arms to the side, face blank and without expression. Then she tilted her head to one side and in a sickly sweet, sing song voice, uttered "Hello Daniel" which caused me to shriek and fall off of my stool and recoil in terror with my arms over my face because well, that's my name. And.....and......and I'm getting carried away here because I've bloody met MiMi before, albeit once and she's sweet as pie. Lets ditch the melodramatics shall we.
Lunch in The Hat and Tun was very good actually, it was the first time I had been there as well as MiMi and we were both impressed with the food although disappointed that their scotch egg was off the menu as it has garnered good reviews. The kitchen had been moved downstairs and set up within the bar area yet health and safety prevented deep frying so close to a public space. Or something like that, I couldn't really understand what the puzzled waitress was telling us. MiMi went for a roast pork doorstep sandwich (slow roast Essex Saddleback) which she daintily went at with knife and fork despite my encouragement to go at with hands and teeth. I went for the Ploughmans which came with two massive hulks of Keen's Cheddar. It was a bit of a dairy overload really but I ploughed on through, probably looking considerably less dainty then MiMi in the process. It was also nice to have a chat, particularly about her adventures in Burma where her folks come from. I was a little bit taken aback though by her reaction after regaling a story to her concerning a minor indiscretion in my yoof. Not that she was appalled or outraged or anything, she merely said that as a lawyer, she always had to keep a clean sheet. And I was simply flipped by the fact that I have met yet another food blogger who works in law. MiMi is about the 8th or 9th one now, what gives? Are all lawyers wannabe chefs? This a question that must be answered at a later date.
As always, it was soon time to depart but not before MiMi gave me the run down on that evenings supper which was to be Neck of Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash, Ficelle from Paul, Peanut Caramels from Hotel Chocolat and persimmons from random street vendor. A fantastic haul and as I took hold of the goodies, it suddenly dawned on me what MiMi was going on about with regards to the bones. She instructed that I should pour a couple of tablespoons of water over the stew when reheating and with that we went our separate ways.
Despite the cheesathon I had at lunch, come 7pm, I was fairly "Hank Marvin" as they say in certain parts of the world so I whacked the stew in the microwave for 4 minutes, with my stomach grumbling and growling all the while. It was interesting but in the container, the portion that MiMi gave looked to be a regular size yet once I poured it onto the plate it seemed to have doubled allowing me a mental clap of joy. Admittedly, it didn't look that pretty but the smell alone unleashed the berserker carnivore in me. The lamb was wonderfully tender with a hint of warm spice in the background which contrasted well with the sweetness of the squash. Neck is a particularly flavoursome cut and of course the best part is gnawing in between the bones and sucking scraps of meat. I know my colleague was doing his best to ignore Captain Caveman on the other side of the room but it couldn't have been easy listening in. I thought about offering him some of the bread and letting him have a go at soaking up some of the delish, glistening, fatty gravy but then thought the better of it. Ah such is the cruel nature of this project, eating in the office whilst others make do with sandwiches from Tescos. I did however share out some of the delicious peanut caramels from Hotel Chocolate so I am not all that bad. The persimmons were a new one on me, having never tried them before but because I had gorged myself to oblivion I took them home to eat the next day. They were quite the revelation and I find it hard to put my finger on describing them but a cross between mango, melon and tomatoes comes to mind, with a subtle floral note. The Simpsons kitchen towel used to wrap them in was also a nice touch (see my twitter bio for further explanation http://twitter.com/FoodUrchin).
I've bought some more since and they've become a household fave so thanks for the introduction MiMi and thank you for your gorgeous stew.
Hmm caramel.....do you want to try? hmm no you can't it's mine, hehehehe........
Aha you thought I wasn't going to mention it didn't you! But of course, we need to talk about the film, starring MiMi, along with her hubby who wrote and directed plus a very funny and able cast. Initially I thought about going all Jonathan Woss with an in depth critique but this is a food blog and I probably wouldn't do justice to the concept (or should that be conceptual) that is Pure Evil. Set in house that contains 8 artists whose personalities range from the highly strung, droll and downright mysterious, it is by turns hilarious, bizarre, and absurdly whacked out. There is some great improvisation going on which I think impressed me the most, along with the continuity (!) and MiMi's amazing performing pig tails. Oh and the soundtrack is pretty cool too. If I had to be critical I would say that its a little bit too long but there are some super silly moments to look out for throughout, like the word association game between the actors. But most importantly, it wasn't scary at all. If you fancy some surreal fun and giving some money to Save The Children then pop over here: http://www.justgiving.com/pe2dvd