When you're invited for dinner at someones house, it's usually by a fairly good friend, and quite a casual affair. I went for dinner at Welbeck Abbey on Friday which was far from casual in my books.
Darina Allen came to the School of Artisan Food to give an evening talk. Her husband Tim, and food writer and critic Matthew Fort also came to Welbeck for the evening. So the plan (which I was unaware of) was for the three of them to come to dinner at the Abbey with William and Alison (who own it) and two other people from the School and dairy. And me.
I turned up to the front door of the Abbey and walked into the reception room, which was wood panelled with carvings, antique furniture, and shelves full with books which must have been hundreds of years old. There were huge paintings on the walls, and an enormous fireplace with the family crest about 6 foot square carved above it. Think Chatsworth, think Hogwarts, think Buckingham flippin palace. I almost had to pinch myself.
Anyway, so we had a four course meal with beer and wine, followed by lemoncello made with lemons from their garden (cool hey?). The atmosphere was so relaxed it was quite surreal. I was having dinner in a stately home with two celebrities and yet the atmosphere was so chilled we could have been sat in my rather more modest living room having the same evening.
Bizarre. I'm not quite sure how, but I've really managed to land on my feet with this job. Alison and William are so normal and lovely, and I felt really quite chuffed to be invited to dinner.
Anyway, just thought I'd let you know. Back to the real world and brewing.