I did it! I took a leap and dived into the culinary jungle of SW-London. The result? Sweet, delicious temptation!
I am still in bed. I cannot eat breakfast although it is already past 1pm. I am bursting with delight and ecstasy. Last night was gooood. It was too much of everything: food, wine, laughter…. stomach-bursting butterflies! I am half-delirious with sensuality and unwilling to leave bed and face the grey reality of winter in London. So, I take my diary to bed, snuggle back into soft downy pillows and tell you about my first culinamorous adventure.
Last week began slow. My meeting with Sascha had reminded me of what I really wanted. And I had decided to get it – Amanda’s willpower might have rubbed off on me after all. Only, I needed to think about a good strategy. Instead of stumbling into my next adventure, I took Monday and Tuesday to research for a good cooking class or private social cooking event. Sadly, the internet yielded nothing compelling. Eventually, I called a few friends. Not many of them had ever taken a cooking class. Not even the ones working the industry. I felt on the brink of giving up.
On Tuesday night, my phone rang. A male voice asked for Sophie White. “Yes, speaking,” I said and wondered who on earth had got hold of number this time. I usually don’t share my private number and my friends know not to either. “My name is Christian,” said the voice “ I am inviting you for supper. Saturday, my place.” The voice paused – inquiringly. When I didn’t reply, the voice continued. “Mark has recommended you. He said you are quite keen to join.” Join what exactly, I thought vaguely and finally found my voice.
“Err… yes, thank you. How kind of you to consider me.” Could I ask what I was joining there or would that sound rude and ignorant?
“9 pm” said the voice sounding rather final. “Near Belgrave Square.” Before I could decide whether or not it was safe to ask, he had hung up. I stared at my phone, frowning. What the … ?
I dialled Mark’s number. No answer. Blast, I was curious! I kept calling Mark’s phone, it was no good trying to concentrate on anything else now. Eventually, he answered.
“Mark,” I nearly shouted into the phone. “Who is Christian? Why has he got my number and where on earth am I going on Saturday?”
“So you have been invited.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And he explained. He had first heard about Christian a few months ago. A very talented chef, he had set up a circle of highly exclusive dinners. Some were hosted at his own house, others were held at secret locations. The guests were never the same, yet always affluent, beautiful, successful or in otherwise noteworthy.
What was I doing amongst these high flyers, I thought immediately and imagined a crowd ranging from Kate Moss to the Princes Royal and Qatari magnates. Oh dear, I will embarrass myself, I worried.
“… after which he usually takes one of the female guests somewhere,” I heard Mark continue. I pulled myself together. If I was going, I had better listen up! “All in all, it should be quite an experience. Consider yourself lucky that he invited you!”
With this ominous and not at all reassuring declaration, I was hard put to concentrate on working. Luckily, I could reduce my engagement to a couple of press-meetings and an interview. Mark’s words – or rather what I had not heard – was stuck in my mind. I was on edge.
When I am nervous, I shop. And I was very nervous. By Friday, out of sheer nerves, I had completed a big chunk of my christmas shopping. Still, the one big question remained: what would I wear?
Friday night I spent rummaging through everything I (and Kate) owned. I considered skinny leather leggings topped with an oversized chunky knit christmas jumper and stiletto boots. Too harsh.
Next I threw on a pale green pleated dress with gold embroidery, matched with short lace gloves and a fox fur bolero. Mhhh, not bad. Mabye a little too chichi? A red, calf-length, figure-hugging wool dress and long black gloves looked nice and christmassy, albeit a tad tame.
I wanted nothing short of spectacular! I might not be famous, or rich or otherwise noteworthy, but I was going to look fabulous!
A deep purple, long Edwardian-style dress with a high-collared white blouse that Kate had bought for one of her fancier christmas parties was tres chic, but too austere (Although I am fervently in love with Mary Crawley, I just don’t have that stern elegance. Instead of looking glam, such frocks make me look miserable…).
A pale pink and sunny yellow tea-dress with delicate flowering enhanced my waist nicely but was so tight that I wouldn’t be able to sit or eat (while breathing simultaneously). And after all, this supper was about food… Or was it?
In the end, I threw myself onto my hardly recognizable bed. I was devastated. How could I possibly wear something ordinary?
After a short and exhausted night’s sleep I awoke Saturday morning with a surprisingly clear vision of a dress: palest silvery-gold, embroidered on ivory silk. Soft, flowing ostrich feathers on the skirt… short, sassy, sparkly and perfect!
I knew this dress. I had seen it somewhere… but where? I jumped out of bed and started pulling out all my magazines. It had been earlier this year, I was sure of it. Vogue, Madame, Marie Claire, Elle – nothing! Then I remembered. April, my sweet friend,had worn this dress to an opening night of some sort and she had rocked the entire after-party.
Two long hours later and the dress had been safely delivered to my house. April had thankfully not only been at home but also in possession of said dress and willing to send a London courier. Alas, I had my dress! The remainder of Saturday passed in a haze of make-up, blow-out, jewellery-picking and a minor tantrum when I realised I had apparently lost a pair of heels I was desperate to wear. But, I managed to be ready to go just in time and felt like a glamorous film star from the 1920 when I stepped onto Kings Road.
The soft sound of a jazz band and the captivating scent of white gardenias greeted me in the entrance hall. Armed with a delicate crystal glass of something sweet and bubbly I gazed at the flock of breathtakingly beautiful people. Here and there I thought I recognized a face, but knew no one personally. After a while, during which I sipped the delicious cocktail and observed my fellow guests, a set of double doors leading into a sumptuously decorated dining room opened.
Suddenly, a man stood there. He seemed to be reflecting the light of thousands of candles. Or maybe, I thought wonderingly, he was glowing himself. I heard the deep, succulent voice of Christian, my host, welcoming us. He bade us to enjoy the dinner and sat down, at the far end of the table. I was strangely disappointed.
He wasn’t obviously handsome. On the contrary, he could have been almost ordinary. Dark, chocolate-coloured skin, closely cropped hair, an average face. However, there was something utterly enchanting in the perfection of his fluid movements and soon I felt unable to avert my eyes.
Course after course of exquisite food was brought in. Each dish containing at least one unexpected ingredient. The gentleman to my right was incessantly talking. About what I could not say; I had long given up following his tiresome monoversation.
Instead I was watching Christian from under my lids. There was something about him that made it impossible for me to focus on anything else – with food being the single exception. The man was emanating strength and calmness, yet surprising agility and charme. No, charme isn’t strong enough. He was radiating sexual power!
His effect on me was confusing me so much that I started concentrating on his appearance again. He was wearing a dark purple tux, a crisp white shirt and a lavish red velvet bow tie. His short hair was greying at the temples. Yet, it was impossible to gauge his age. Indeed, he seemed almost ageless.
I was deeply immersed in my observations when – suddenly – I felt rather than saw his eyes boring directly into mine. It must have been the briefest moment, for when I blinked, he was engaged in conversation.My breath was coming in sharp, shallow gulps and I sternly told myself to remain calm. After all, a perfect stranger had glanced in my direction. That’s it, no more.
In the meantime, pink-pepper-chocolate ganache, mini strawberry-chili-cheesecakes, pistaccio and green-tea macaroons had appeared in front of me, the culmination of an extraordinary dinner. I was glad to have something else to focus on and marvelled at the perfection of the taste-compositions, when, suddenly, I felt the heat of a gaze almost physically and looked up to where Christian was sitting. The seat was empty.
Instead, he was standing next to me, holding out his hand. The force of his charisma was so strong that I felt my will melting like the chocolate ganache in my mouth. Without a word he took me through the double doors, the now deserted entrance hall, up a dark mahogany staircase and into a spacious bedroom.
Well, my dear friends. What can I say? I yielded to sweet temptation and was rewarded with … an explosion. I am of course talking about the superb dinner :). Let’s see what the next week brings!