My husband and I wanted to mark our 50th birthdays. Life has taught us to make time to enjoy family and friends and look for any opportunity to do something fun. However, sometimes it feels like a challenge when trying hard to suit a variety of age ranges and it is often difficult deciding the size of a gathering; worrying about leaving loved ones out. Therefore, under the guise of 'any excuse' we decided that we would host a special meal with our respective immediate families then a host a big, joint party for all our friends and family at the end of my blogging year. That way we could celebrate with everyone over the year.
My sister-in-law, a lawyer by day but also a foodie and fine-dinning enthusiast, suggested the perfect venue. Queans is a small, cosy but reasonably priced fine-dining restaurant in Leamington. It has had some amazing reviews, notably a 5 star from the renowned Matthew Norman, in The Telegraph. Planning well in advance meant that we managed to secure the whole restaurant for the evening and enabled us to liaise with Laura, the proprietor and chef, to plan the perfect menu. We are a mixed bag when it comes to dietary requirements but Laura coped magnificently with the spreadsheet of meat-eaters, vegetarians who eat fish, vegetarians who don’t eat eggs, small portions of both meat and vegetarian meals for the younger children, my milk, egg and fish allergies thrown in with the no beef as members of my husband's family are Hindu. An important factor for me is being confident that I am able to join in the festivities without having to worry about repercussions from my allergies. Since my lymphoma diagnosis and blood tests that identified my allergies eating out has become more difficult and that can tend to dampen my enjoyment sometimes. However, I do try and not let this stop me from joining in and will celebrate alongside revelers even if it means eating at home first and just joining in with a drink. Therefore having some control over the fine-dining menu was brilliant. Laura understood the food issues and created a personalised menu for the evening that would enable all of our guests to have fabulous choices of wonderful food.
The first event that we needed to organise was my husband's 50th family meal. The requirement was a stress free meal but in an atmosphere that would be conducive to three generations; spanning 79 years to 3 months. Leamington Spa is my husband’s home town and a central point to gather the clans as it midway between scattered relatives of North London and the East of England.
What could be a better treat than spending quality time together eating quality food ?
FINE-DININGFACT: The very first Michelin Guide was published in 1900, in France. It is thought to have been devised to encourage motorists and therefore increase the need for new tyres!
It was a lovely evening of fine wine and food, with beautiful pictures to prove it. However, the main courses were so appealing that the photographers got stuck in and were busy devouring them rather than photographing them! They remembered once their plates had been licked clean. Fortunately the photos of the starters and puddings give a taste of the food artistry that Laura produced entirely on her own.
Laura and her staff were attentive. The food and atmosphere were just perfect for the three generations to enjoy quality time. Most importantly, we could concentrate on chatting to family without any other stresses. It was a lovely treat to mark the beginning of my husband's 50th year. Our aim is to grow old disgracefully (in a good way!) by appreciating the beauty in the small everyday things but with the bonus of an abundance of special treats along the way.