Home alone and in charge

Well, I must be getting things right as Peter and Orlando left me in charge of all things culinary – and the small matter of looking after the Manoir and our guests – for a few days while they went to the Jesmond Dene Food Festival, where Orlando was hosting a big dinner and doing a food demonstration for the guests…


Menus planned, crisis management in place and off they went… Luckily we have a new recruit: Debbie from California, who came here two years ago for her cousin’s wedding, is taking a career break and has come here for three months over the summer to help out.  After the mother of all crash courses from Peter on running front of house, she threw herself into looking after the guests.  They didn’t disappoint – taking the “smother them with kindness” approach, we steered our charges through their stay here and everyone came out smiling.  Well, Debbie and I emerged absolutely knackered, but in a good way…

And praise be to Saint Lawrence (patron saint of chefs) – everything turned out extraordinarily well.  We were actually getting a bit freaked out because, let’s face it, despite constantly mumbling “I am not at home to Mr F*ck-up” under my breath, I was pretty nervous about maintaing Le Manoir’s high standards…  But I turned out food that I was truly proud of, Debbie and I chatted the guests up a treat and I even managed to fit in a swim every afternoon (a sure-fire way to clear even the most befuddled brain and stretch the most knotted muscles…)
Here are photos of a few of the dishes (all starters and puddings as the main courses always seems to be on the plate and raring to go before I have a chance to point my camera at them): salad of cherries with Ecir en Aubrac cheese and hazelnuts; chocolate and cardamom torte; the blackurrant leaves I picked at 4pm to make the sorbet for that night, served with an almond tuile and rose and pansy syrups.

So, now Peter and Orlando are back, the place is still intact, the guests left happy and promising to return.  Final score?  Laura and Debbie: 1; Mr F*ck-up: nul points.