Monday, 18 August 2014

a neat little dinner

He heaved a deep sigh, which made the Cumberland corset creak alarmingly; but almost immediately grew more cheerful, as he disclosed to Kit that his object in coming to Hill Street was to beg him to bring his mama to a little dinner-party which he was planning to hold at the Clarendon Hotel, before he retired to Brighton for the summer months. ‘They have a way of cooking semelles of carp which is better than anything my Alphonse can do,’ he said impressively. ‘You cut your carp into large collops, you know, and in a stew-pan you put butter, chopped shallots, thyme, parsley, mushrooms, and pepper and salt, of course – anyone knows that! But at the Clarendon something else is added, and devilish good it is, though I haven’t yet discovered what it may be. It is not sorrel, for I desired Alphonse to try that, and it was not the same thing at all. I wonder if it might be just a touch of chervil, and perhaps one or two tarragon-leaves?’ He slewed round to smile fondly upon Lady Denville. ‘You will know, I daresay, my pretty! I thought I would have it removed with a fillet of veal. We must have quails: that goes without saying – and ducklings; and nothing beside except a few larded sweetbreads, and a raised pie. And for the second course just a green goose, with cauliflowers and French beans and peas, for I know you don’t care for large dinners. So I shall add only a dressed lobster, and some asparagus, and a few jellies and creams, and a basket of pastries for you to nibble at. That,’ he said, beaming upon his prospective guests, ‘is my notion of a neat little dinner.’
Georgette Heyer
False Colours (1963, set in 1817)

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