IF YOU could swap your usual dinner companion and chat over canapes or trifle over trifle with somebody from a different walk of life, who would you choose?
Organisers of EAT! festival have given it some thought and come up with a varied selection of characters to add extra flavour to your supper.
On Monday night (and last) it was our own Admiral Lord Collingwood and the themed evening proved a great success.
While this year marks the 200th anniversary of his death, Admiral Nelson’s right-hand man was there in every cleverly thought-out detail of a hugely interesting and well-hosted night.
I’d never been to Trinity House. What a gem it is, hidden behind Broad Chare. Being surrounded by 500 years of history and mingling with some in period costumes was like stepping back in time.
Setting a suitably nautical and jovial note as we assembled in the board room – with champagne corks popping for our aptly-named Admiral’s Flip (given an added kick of rum) and delicious canapes such as quails’ eggs with celery pepper – was Captain Stephen Healy, deputy master of Trinity House.
He gave us a tour of the maritime building which has a library, a chapel and, apparently, a friendly ghost. A displayed hand-written letter by Collingwood was an extra fascinating touch. And, if there was ever a man with an inside line on him it is surely his biographer Max Adams who, as fellow host, was at our table for dinner, served in the banqueting room.
Between courses of a Trafalgar-themed menu, the hosts swapped tables so everyone had a chance to ask them about Collingwood – a national hero not just a local one, points out Max.
Imagination came into play in the excellent menu by Boldon Farmhouse Pantry, which was in keeping with EAT!’s emphasis on local. Dishes had titles such as St Vincent’s Terrine – of shellfish, accompanied by scallops – and Sovereign Royale. This time TV presenter John Grundy, the third host, joined us for deboned, stuffed suckling pig and asparagus.
There was a vegetarian option too and wines – a French Sauvignon Blanc and robust Claret – were picked to complement the food. A summery, creamy “posset” dessert was followed by wonderful cheese and port.
The company is, of course, as important as the food and many people who sat down as strangers had a few shipmates by the end.
For other Supper With ... events visit www.eatnewcastlegateshead.com