It was my birthday yesterday, so to kick start my 40 things before 40 list, I did one straight away!
Pretty good going I thought. It will make up for the fact that the other 39 get done in the last six months before my fortieth.
Normally when my mum asks me what I want for my birthday, I am less than helpful. “Just buy me something exquisite and charming,” I say. She tends to look doubtful. This year though I knew exactly what to say. “I’d like to have lunch in a Michelin star restaurant please,” I said. It sounded a tad on the grabby side, but better than asking for a holiday to Iceland I thought. Plus that way we could have lunch together. Quality Mother and Daughter time and all that.
So yesterday lunchtime we set off to Casamia in Westbury-on-Trym. I put on my best shoes specially and even brushed my hair. It was all very fancy.
We were shown to our table by a very polite but perhaps a little lacking in personality waitress. She didn’t even really laugh much at my joke about the cultured butter going to the theatre more often than regular butter. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at that? I was hilarious! Still, they are probably more refined waitresses than you get in Pizza Hut.
At Casamia, the dining experience is as important as the food, so part of the kitchen is within the restaurant and you can watch the chef putting together your dishes. For every course, the chef himself brings you your food and explains exactly what it is and is happy to answer any questions you have about your food. I kept my butter joke to myself with the chef.
We started out meal with seeded leaven bread and the theatre-going butter, which is all home made at Casamia. It was delicious. Obviously.
We had opted for the shorter lunch menu, (although the people on the table next to us had the longer option so we could peer at theirs too), and our first course was a beetroot and goat’s cheese tart. It was possibly the smallest tart I have ever seen, but absolutely beautiful. The beetroot flavour coming from the case was fantastic.
Next we had a spelt and parsley risotto, topped with some puffed up crunchy spelt and micro-parsley. You know a restaurant is classy if it serves micro anything. I love parsley, and this was one of my favourite dishes.
Then we the fish course – John Dory with a slither of apple and lemon jelly, topped with seasonal vegetables and a beautiful cider and cream sauce.
Next up was our ‘transitional’ course, bridging the gap between sweet and savoury. We ate a tiny carrot cake, topped with fresh and freeze-dried carrot and crunchy thyme ice-cream. This was absolutely amazing, and made all the more exciting by the fact that the ice-cream was bought separately to the table in a steaming pan, icy cold.
Finally then, pudding – rhubarb fool. I absolutely love rhubarb, and the flavour from this was incredible – all of the rhubarbyness but none of that sourness that you often get from rhubarb. The topping here is toasted marshmallows and juniper shards.
Eating such small portions did make me think a bit more about my normal eating habits, and our habits generally in the UK. When eating out particularly, the emphasise is quite often on quantity rather than quality – think all you can eat pizza buffets, unlimited salads – yet at the end of my lunch I was genuinely full. I couldn’t help but imagine a massive pub meal piled up next to a delicate goats cheese tart and feel a little bit disgusted with myself.
So there we go.
They let me take a menu home for my scrapbook (yes I am 35 now, not 5, honest), and that’s one thing ticked off my list. Only 39 more to go…