OK, so this is supposed to be a blog recounting my cooking exploits with Jamie. But I reserve the right for the occasional off-topic aside - because if we are what we eat (which, as Saffy memorably told Edwina in Absolutely Fabulous, would make her a large vegetarian tart... and would make 'Dr' Gillian something disgustingly unpronouncable - both of which are perhaps not so far off the mark), then I am allowed to talk about food that I haven't made myself as well as my painstaking culinary efforts (and my occasional throw-it-all-in-a-pan concoctions).
Anyway I spent Friday and Saturday in London, on a work trip. The spin-off was that I got to spend Friday night with my brother and sister-in-law in Herfordshire. A brief introduction: my brother is two years younger than me, can cook, and has thankfully metamorphosed from the student who only used to wash a plate up when there were none left in the cupboard for his next meal. The house he and my sister-in-law live in is delightfully tasteful (my sister-in-law has unfailingly good taste - even in choosing my brother) and they are wonderful hosts (and I am not just saying that because they might read me). We went out on Friday evening to Jean-Christophe Novelli's gastropub venture in Harpenden, and the food was delicious. I had the most amazing serrano ham to start, with puy lentils, marinaded artichokes, and truffle oil. I can almost still taste that ham now - it bears no relation to the Tesco version of the same, even the Tesco Finest version. Then I had roast lamb with boulangere potatoes, which was also lovely, and finally an orange chocolate fondant with orange ice cream... and a Baileys on ice. I have only read one review of Novelli's pub, which complained about the uneven quality of the food and the absence of Novelli himself. Predictably there was no sign of the man himself on Friday night, which might even be a good thing. The food was delicious and the service carefully attentive. The only negative, as my sister-in-law commented, was the other diners, who seemed to be performing as well as eating. It was as though they wanted to be seen and heard - and they definitely succeeded. Thankfully, they didn't detract too much from the eating experience. Jean-Christophe may have been elsewhere, but his chefs certainly know what they're doing. Or that was how I felt, at least.
I've got food to report on too, but I've also got a deadline - Jane Eyre at 9. The Radio Times attempts to bill this as a cliff-hanger ('Reader, I married him' - which man does she marry, the magazine asks). Please. Who is there left who doesn't know the ending of Jane Eyre? Well, anyone out there who imagines she might marry St John Rivers (who, Radio Times reviewer, she hasn't even met yet in this TV adaptation), sorry to ruin this exciting denouement but she ends up with the grumpy Rochester. Who, in this adaptation, is less grumpy than flirty. I just hope that their reunion kiss is a bit more plausible than the one we saw in the previous episode last Sunday.