The clouds looked very threatening when we set off for supper in Hampton Hill, and Other Half had a bad back, so a stroll which usually takes about 15 minutes was likely to be far longer. We'd only got to the end of our road when the lowering dark grey clouds decided to dump their load of rain on us. Sheltering under a tree for 10 mins with a broken umbrella, we debated whether to walk home to get the car: in the end, we caught the R68 bus....
Arriving at our friends' house, we were greeted with glasses of chilled wine and cold beer, intriguing and delicious canapes (a twist on those Chinese pancakes more usually wrapped around crispy aromatic duck), and lots of cheerful "thank God it's Friday" conversation in the kitchen. The theme of the food was most definitely oriental, more specifically, Thai - a cuisine which I've struggled to master, so much so that I have given up trying, preferring to make green or red curry out of a bought paste. The food was wonderful, bursting with interesting, fresh, zingy flavours: perfectly formed crab cakes, followed by a frgrant green chicken curry, with a pistachio and saffron kulfi (Indian icecream) for pudding. But the highlight of highlights, for me, was the green papaya salad.
I've eaten this fresh, zingy salad at the restaurant at Petersham Nurseries, but owing to the difficulty of procuring the ingredients, have only attempted to make it once. It was truly delicious, the perfect compliment to the curry. I had seconds - I had to. All day on Saturday, I couldn't stop thinking about the delicious, fresh flavours and texture of that salad.
Between the main course and the pudding, I was prevailed upon to play the piano (it didn't take much prevailing, it has to be said!). I'm piano teacher to the hostess's two children, and also to one of the other guests, Sarah, who is about to take her Grade 2 exam. I played some Liszt, and, apparently inspired by teacher, the children then did a turn each, rattling through their exam pieces. Then Sarah stepped up and played the opening of the beautiful G minor Minuet by Bach she is playing in her exam.
It was a really lovely evening - fine food, good conversation, good friends - and a drop of music too.