Look at me with my trendy title. You will never guess what I did last night. You don’t have to, however, because I am going to tell you.
I saw a competition on broadsheet: to enter you had to tweet a picture of the statue of Grattan at College Green and add the hashtag tycdinners. If you won, you got an “intimate dinner for two” in a secret location. So I entered, but you know, just because I was passing really.
So you can imagine then, my surprise, when this popped up in my notifications:
@Belgianwaffle Anne you win dinner tonight in what will be an @ABSOLUTIrl feast! With our first chef @essafakhry #TYCDINNERS #OFFSET2014
— Designgoat (@wearedesigngoat) March 13, 2014
I never win anything; I was delighted. And then horrified; the nature of the competition was that night or never [and I’d only seen the notification at lunchtime]. This competition is designed for trendy young people who don’t need to get a babysitter before they go out. Not just that but Daniel and Herself were scheduled to sing at the First Confession between 7.15 and 8.15 and somebody had to look after Michael at home. It looked as though the first competition I had (possibly ever) won was slipping from my grasp. My husband, who is, as you know, a saint, said, why not ring your friend F and see whether she can go with you instead of me.
I rang friend F.
Me: What are you doing tonight?
Her: I have to work late doing some tax prep (she is a tax lawyer so not as bad for her as other people, or, who knows, actually, maybe worse).
Me: Oh dear.
Her: Well, I could be flexible, why, what is it?
Me: [Slightly garbled explanation]
Her: Feck the tax, I’m in. [She was accepted for art school but decided to do law at the last moment, I feel this makes her my most alternative friend].
With the excitement of dinner at 8 in a secret location; me only getting home from work at 6.30; and two of the children to be bundled out in their best bib and tucker by 7, it was all a bit of a scramble. Mr. Waffle bought chips for the children for dinner which I didn’t touch (my body is a temple etc.) and which they regarded as a hugely welcome unexpected bonus. I cannot reflect on my children’s meals this week with a sense of anything even approaching virtue.
Never mind. My friend called round to collect me [obligatory phone call – do you know the way punctuality was never my strongest point? – I’m running a bit late] and I navigated us to the secret location with some success. I read aloud to her from the email: “just go in the steel gates”. “Really?” said she. “Through the steel gates to this unknown man’s garage. Are you sure about this competition”
Anyhow, we were met by the organiser who is part of a company rejoicing in the unlikely name of Designgoat who was charming and F was reassured. He said he made furniture which was lovely and everything but, you know, dinner. We were brought to an enormous room where he had made a little house and inside the little house [which matched the one at the bottom of the Grattan statue] was our table, our chef and our kitchen.
Aside, I said to Mr. Designgoat, I know somebody who works in the creative business; my husband’s, brother’s wife’s sister is a stylist and her husband is a graphic designer [go me – and such a close link]. He paused for a moment and said, “Oh you mean A who is working upstairs as we speak”. Welcome to Ireland. Also about were me&him&you who were involved in a way that is not entirely clear to me but they were lovely young men and they took our pictures. It was an environment where I was finally able to sample an extensive range of this hipster beard I hear so much about.
Our chef was called Essa and he was young and charming and we were filled with hope. And hungry. He mentioned that Mr. Designgoat had only finished the restaurant kitchen half an hour before he had to start cooking and it looked a tiny bit primitive [he only implied the latter but as, it turned out Mr. DG was his brother so he was, perhaps, more frank about the logistical shortcomings than a stranger might have been].
There was mild apprehension in the air. It was misplaced. The food was amazing. And there were loads of courses. I was particularly taken with the granita and the cod [two separate courses – focus]. And Essa chatted away merrily to us while doing all kinds of fancy things with no apparent effort. He was doing this on his night off, so I felt slightly guilt ridden – chefs and junior doctors the home of the long hours cultures – I felt he needed his night off. Never mind, it was all good for us. Did I mention the homemade Snickers dessert? Are you screaming with envy? Rightly so. Also, I now know what a micro herb is. There will be no stopping me now.
While somebody else worried about washing up we got to look at the Mr. DG’s studio and workshop – I nearly asked how much it would cost to make some furniture for us but then I remembered about my piano costs (I’ll tell you another time) and scuttled out into the night before committing any terrible extravagance.
I can tell you, this is what I always thought the romance of the big city was all about.
Tomorrow morning, however, I will be standing at the side of a windswept pitch somewhere in North County Dublin looking at determined 8 year olds playing Gaelic football.
Insert your own sage comment here. Did you know that sage can be grown as a micro herb? Really, I can stop anytime.