Monday, January 05, 2009

Xmas dinner with Paps

THERE is something rather odd about a man who has to take photographs of every item on the Christmas Day menu before you can sit down to eat the bloody thing. Mind you, few would deny there is something odd about Paps.
Because the two of us were spending the entire Christmas week in work, with only December 25 off, the candid camera specialist and I arranged to go arf and arf, as the Welsh say, and did half a Xmas dinner each before sitting down in his house in Splott for a festive nosh up.
I cooked Gammon to my favourite Nigel Slater recipe, and also provided the roast potatoes, pigs in blanket, chestnut stuffing from Cardiff market and the gravy, preferring to experiment with my own (complete with red wine) rather than go down the granules route.
For his part Paps busied himself with roast beef, honey roasted vegetables, the compulsory brussell sprouts and the starter, a moorish little number called Babaganouj (forgive the spelling) with crusty bread.
He picked me up at 12.30 to deliver my offerings to the table and we then spent an interesting hour at the local boozer, the Royal Oak. That had come about due to my first communication of Xmas morning - not from any member of the family but from the Prince who inquired enthusiastically "Are you guys going for a little drink before dinner? (translated: Are we having a Christmas drink or are we having a f*!&ing Christmas drink?!"
In fairness, we had an enjoyable couple of pints of lager in the company of the Prince of Darkness and Steve "Ned Flanders" Jones. Okely dokeyly.
Returning back to the house at just past two I then proceeded to attempt to amputate my finger with one of the very sharp knives that Paps keeps in his possession (something very strange about a man who keeps such dangerous implements in his kitchen). Having sliced straight through the gammon and into my digit I proceeded to bleed all over his kitchen floor, worktop, and sink. "I must have struck an artery", I opined, wrapping a plaster around the wound as quickly as I could.
When I eventually removed the plaster a couple of hours later there was a mere scratch where a gaping hole had once appeared. Either I am a quick healer or my threshold for blood is very low indeed. No doubt Paps took some surreptitious shots of my injury to put on some sadistic website after I had left.
Still, the dinner itself was quite magnificent and afterwards we slobbed out watching Sharks Tale before I wandered home for an afternoon kip.
Highlight of the evening, however, was the new Wallace and Grommit A Matter of Loaf and Death. Excellent.
On the presents front I had some great gifts, including a new steel wok which I will certainly make good use of in the coming weeks. I also had a new MP3 player, even smaller and easier to lose than the last one, which disappeared into the black hole that is the City Arms.

Two days before Christmas we all had a quick drink in the new old O'Neills. It was a very ambient atmosphere with the usual array of suspects turning up to wish each other merry xmas. For my part I provided the wonderful Withers and the Fugitive with black santa hats, inscribed with the message: "Bah, Humbug!" I also bought one for myself and I must say we looked very dapper in a miserable bastards kind of way...
It was only when I got home that night that I discovered the king prawn in my pocket. My thoughts immediately turned to the person who might have slipped the offending object into my jacket. It was a no brainer. Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes)... you're a twat.

Next instalment will involve ringing in the New Year at the City Arms in freezing temperatures.

Meanwhile, here is how I produced the pigs in blankets and roast potatoes.
Pretty easy really, but very time consuming.
I like to mix it up a bit, cutting pieces of streaky bacon in two then wrapping them around cocktail sausages or rolling them around stuffing. They then go in the oven at around 180 and need to be continually checked until nice and crisp.
For the roast potatoes I brought a saucepan of water to the boil with salt and pepper, then added peeled potatoes, large ones preferably that have been chopped in two. After 7-10 minutes remove from the heat and pour off the water, then return to a low heat and shake around the pan to scuff up the edges.
Meanwhile, you should be heating goose fat in the oven until hot. When it is hot enough add the potatoes, cover in oil and then put in the oven on around 180-200, turning now and again so they crisp up and brown. Right at the end sprinkle salt over them and return to the oven before removing ready to serve.

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