Just about a couple of weeks ago I hit a significant milestone. To celebrate I invited a small collection of close friends to join me in a weekend away in Sorrento.
A family friend had gifted me their holiday home for the occasion. It was a large and modern entertainers home 5 minutes walk from the main drag of Sorrento village. It had 4 bedrooms, pool, spa, a billiards room, and a large deck. It was perfect for the occasion.
I headed down on the Friday night with a couple of mates. Predictably we had a couple of drinks, a pizza, and a few games of pool to celebrate our independence. After a hefty breakfast out the next morning we set about shopping.
I like to do things a bit differently for these occasions, and had settled on the novel idea of having a My Kitchen Rules themed party. I don’t watch the show, but it seems most people do, including my friends. The idea was that I would select the menu, buy the ingredients, pick teams for different courses, and then let them go at it. I’d be above the fray acting as Manu would.
Before that we boys went out and played 9 holes at Moonah Links. That was fun, and by the time we returned we were due for a drink. I brought down a dozen bottles of mixed reds. There were a couple of bottles of white, two of bubbles, beer of course, and a bottle of rum for the mojitos. Over the course of the weekend everything bar one bottle of red was consumed among the 9 of us.
We had a beer and then mojitos on the deck. The first bottle of Chandon was popped as the lads set off to prepare the entrée for us. Though there had been some initial uncertainty about the theme it proved to be a big winner. Everyone got into the spirit of it. There was a lot of laughter and regular advice, and the food throughout was excellent.
The only contentious moment was regarding how long the eye fillet should cook. Once sealed I was of the opinion, as was one of the other cooks, that 40 minutes tops would see it done in the oven. The girls in that team were aghast at that, believing it should be cooked for well over an hour. There were some near violent disagreements on this crucial point. Acting as Manu I also put my 2c worth forward as someone who was to partake in it. I didn’t want my beautiful piece of fillet to be dry, grey and overcooked, and so eventually it was cooked for 45 minutes.
I would argue it was still a tad too long, but given the variety of tastes it probably just right. I like my meat medium-rare and juicy, but blood puts a lot of people off. It was very tasty regardless.
Through the course of the night there were a lot of illuminating discussions, debates and more than one unexpected question. For me at the head of the table it felt a strange sensation. This was all about me. These people were there to honour me. They represented a large chunk of my life and history. They had memories, stories, much as I did. I’m no shrinking violet, yet I found it a bit strange, as if a spotlight followed me wherever I went. (In contrast there was a sense of anti-climax the next day – all that build-up and then over before you know it).
After dinner there was a spontaneous roast of me, which was interesting. Most related the story of how they first met me, before giving an assessment of my character. There were some very nice, but unexpected things said of me.
Then it was over in the wee hours of the night. Everyone went to their respective beds and woke up the next day just a little jaded. That was that. Now for the next 50 years.