On a recent Friday evening, I lured Paul to Covent Garden with the promise of nerdiness. The new Star Trek film, in fact.
Ever since we moved to the UK we have been talking about going to see a movie on Leicester Square - where all the premiers are held - but somehow we never had. But I was convinced that Star Trek would be worth seeing on the big screen and it would put us in the perfect position for dinner afterwards.
It was definitely worth the ticket price! I'm not a hard-core Trek fan. Most of my viewing of ToS has been in the context of university film and television lectures (humanism, check; fear of communism, check; zeitgeist, check) so I have seen episodes, but I don't really know the mythology. I just thought this was a well-made movie. The liberties they took with changing events to fit a prequel were explained well, and the "younger selves" all did a very good job of getting the look and mannerisms of their original series counterparts.
But Winona Rider as Spock's mother? Really? Am I that old? How did that happen and who do I complain to?
I've realised in recent years that I don't like suspense. That visceral feeling from movies when you don't know what is behind the door or what is coming up behind them and knowing (thank you very much JK Rowling) that sometimes the heroes don't survive... it's for the birds. So this was all very comforting. I KNEW that Spock, Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov were going to live to fight another day, so I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.
And after a very enjoyable couple of hours, we emerged blinking into the light to search for dinner. We decided to gamble on there being a table at Mon Plaisir. It was only when we were seated that I realised that it was almost exactly 3 years since we'd arrived in England - and therefore almost exactly 3 years since we first went to Mon Plaisir - and also that we were seated at the same table as that evening 3 years before. Serendipity.
Paul started, in his traditional way, with onion soup. I started with roast tomatoes, crisp Bayonne ham and roquefort icecream. Other than the fact that the tomatoes were cherry tomatoes on the vine, leading to the ever-amusing cherry tomato roulette (will it explode? will it slice? will it burn my mouth? will it shoot off the plate and land in that woman's champagne glass?) this was a perfect starter. The sweet roasted tomatoes mixed with the sweet and salty cheesy icecream and the crispy salty ham in a perfect combination of flavours and textures.
Then again, dictated by tradition as well as inclination, we had the cote de boeuf, with bearnaise. It was superb. The bearnaise at Mon Plaisir is occasionally insipid, but this was perfectly seasoned. The lovely rich beef only needed some tiny haricots vert and a bunch of watercress to make a magnificent dish.
Paul had a glass of cognac instead of dessert, but I'd seen all these little clipseal jars being carried past on triangular slates and knew I had to have what was in them. It was Cappuccino Lèger Vanille Café, Madeleine Tiède au Miel - coffee and vanilla mousse with a warm honey madeleine. It wasn't very successful. It was way too large a portion, the mousse layers had too much gelatine in them and the madeleine was a bit tough. Excellent flavours, not so good textures. But such a gorgeous presentation that I would do it again in a moment.