Today was a very rich day.
It began after a horrific night of nightmarish live band hell next door to the rectory. It was as if they were in my room…. until 2 am.
I believe there may have been alcohol involved with the festivities. And gunpowder. Lot’s of gunpowder.
Naturally this sort of thing only happens when you have jet lag and the early Sunday Mass.
To make a long story short, Father managed to drag himself up and – with the fortification of a cup of tea … (why Brits think that does it, I don’t know) – celebrate Mass validly with a sermon that was coherent.
But wait, there’s more.
I was after Mass picked up to go to a nearby parish, St. Mary Magdalen, Wandsworth, for a solemn TLM, of their patronal feast (transferred). The parish priest, Fr. Martin Edwards, kindly invited us to the Mass and then a lunch out at a place called Claridge in Mayfair in central London.
In our chat before hand Fr. Edwards and I figured out that he had been a deacon at my ordination in Rome in 1991. Small world!
The Mass at St. Mary Magdalen was nicely done, with Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. This Mass is musically over the top, very lyrical, but sung quite well by a professional choir. It was well-attended. Fr. Edwards sang the Mass.
After Mass the clergy – five of us – piled into a car and headed into central London. Parking having been located, we made our way along to the eatery.
I was happy to find that the restaurant was one of Gordon Ramsey’s places, his flagship as I understand it.
As we went in, before being seated, I mentioned to the maitre d’ that it would be nice to have a tour of the kitchen.
The entrance, bar area, had a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, which I include here for the opportune knowledge of a particular friend who likes his work.
Lunch consisted of a fixed price menu, of several courses. The first offerings were accompanied by a Mersault. I don’t know which, alas. Later, with a Côtes du Rhône, I sadly don’t know which, I was impressed by a small rather nouveau "lasagna" to use the term loosely, with rabbit, crayfish, and ceps.
My companions had perhaps the most beautiful Beef Wellington I have ever seen.
This and my entree (not shown – but involving pork belly) included with my approval the famous cuillère à sauce individuelle. Well worn and useful.
After a little break there came the cheese trolley! I had a fresh chevre, a Calvados washed Camembert, Époisses de Bourgogne, a ripe sheep cheese in oregano whose name I don’t recall and Stilton.
We chose our cheeses and poured the Port, the name of which was too good not to share.
When it came to desert, I think the restaurant fell down. We waited for an extreme amount of time for something that is simply not that hard to present: crème brûlée.
Well over a half hour for this course, Chef Ramsey. Tisk!
When it came, however, it had an appealing lemon and thyme dynamic and was presented with a small amount of strawberry ice cream and peaches. I think I could do this one. I liked the way the thyme was handled.
You see this good plate here with my watch because of the extreme amount of time, Chef Ramsey, it took to present it.
By the way… I was goaded into taking the photos. I didn’t have to be goaded too hard, but I was goaded.
This is when the assistant manager came out and offered to take us back to the kitchen and show us around.
Here is a shot of the real core of the place.
I always like a tour of the kitchen.
Afterward we has some coffee, and I some cognac (Lascaux, just for the cave-man part of my usual dining habits), and petit fours.
Then off we went!
Back to my humble rental…
Just kidding. This was parked on the street nearby and… well… it’s just really a beautiful set of wheels, for a Bentley, that is.
Back to the rectory of St. Bede’s with the crew for some fraternal time.
It has been a very long day and I am bone tired. But we returned home, tired but happy.
I am deeply grateful to Fr. Edwards – with whom I have that connection from long ago – for the beautiful Mass, the wonderful lunch, the great company and conversation!