Three Lambs

Being this time of year, Easter and all, there is much lamb stuff about and always willing to join in, I have had three lamb ‘references’ recently.

We went to a surprise birthday lunch for a good friend of Nick’s held in a very nice pub next to the river near Oxford. We got their early so had time to peruse the very nice menu.

We hardly ever eat out as I am not willing to go to somewhere where I feel ( not always rightly) that I could cook the food as well as they can. ( There are, of course other reasons, such as never being that organised/dressed up/willing to leave the fire and the telly…)

I hasten to add, this was not the case at The Perch. The menu all looked very delicious and I had my eye fixed on smoked goose and the rest of the ‘Butcher’s platter’ for a starter and then for main- well, not the fish and chips as you always get that at a pub, not the lamb shank because I can do that but hey ho, maybe the barbary duck….

So, we all sat down at the table and I knew I was the youngest there, always a nice feeling. Not by much, and indeed not in as good a shape as the retired GP next to me, but still.

The host suggested we would only have one course and not as bothered about the duck as the goose, I settled on that.

However, as I was basking in my relative youthfulness, I decided not to reach into my bag for my glasses and point out what I wanted to the Hungarian waiter.

‘The platter,’ I said. ‘With pickled vegetables?’ He said. ‘Yes,’ I said, thinking how nice, a bonus. ‘With chips,’ I said. ‘Small or large?’ he said. ‘Small,’ I said, feeling rather smug.

Of course, dear reader, what I got was a platter of pickled vegetables and some chips. And the moral is, those of us who are not spring lambs anymore, should always reach for our glasses.

A couple who were there, were sheep farmers.

This is the nice thing about a lunch like that.

You have the GP talking about setting up a practice to provide medical care for refugees in Bradford and alongside that, information on how you get a ewe to adopt a lamb.

It involved sheep psychology of course, something about making the lamb smell right to get it licked and once licked, it was on to a winner – and being willing to be up all night if necessary to make sure all was well in the lambing shed.

They were lawyers turned lamb experts.

Having wasted my lunch out on a pickled carrot or two, I was pleased to be looking forward to lamb kleftiko, which I planned to cook the next day.

We don’t often do the full meat thing unless we have visitors, so it was a treat.

I have enjoyed lamb kleftiko in Greece, but the best time was in Brussels.

My best beloved was in charge of a multi-national European team.

Stavros, (unsurprisingly a Greek, ) expansively announced that if Greece should win the Euro Cup that year, he would take all of us to lunch at the very nice Greek restaurant nearby.

Well, much to everyone’s surprise, Greece did win and the restaurant provided amazing lamb kleftiko for us all.

( The origins of this dish are said to be sheep minders or rustlers – depending on who you listen to – who dug a pit, put a fire in the bottom, threw in the lamb and cooked it very slowly. The pit was covered so no one would see the smoke – so my money is on rustlers. Nowadays it gets cooked slowly on a bed of garlic, lemon and potatoes.)

All a cinch if you have an aga.

But somehow, I messed it up. Wrong potatoes – and yes, that does matter. Wrong lamb – decided a leg was too much for two people so had no bone in my lamb – and yes that does matter too. And so on and so on.

It was OK and saw us through Antiques Roadshow, but not my proudest lamb moment.

Astute readers who have got this far will be expecting the third lamb reference, but this is long enough as a blog and I have to get the pseudo-moussaka made with the leftover lamb, in the oven so the last lamb instalment will be later.



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