Birthday.

Yesterday, at 7.20 in the morning, I aged by yet another year. Thankfully The Man was there to pull me through, and within the hour festivities had begun. A bed full of presents, cards aplenty, and not one but THREE breakfasts to kickstart my new year. That’s the way to do it.

In what can only be seen as a stroke of marvellous fortune, one of my gifts was a book called ‘Adventures with Chocolate’. Written by a chap called Paul A. Young – one of the best chocolatiers that London has to offer – it’s brimming with fantastical recipes: Marmite ganache, sea salt and chocolate tart, strawberry and pink peppercorn truffles… Oh God! Somebody! Wipe the saliva from my chin!

As if that wasn’t thrilling enough, The Man has offered to purchase ingredients for five of my favourite recipes, so prepare yourselves for some extremely luxurious experimentation in the weeks to come. I’ll even promise not to moan about the calories.

Anyway, as wrapping paper gathered round my feet, I was already feeling spoilt (and undeservedly too). Still, I soon learnt that the best was yet to come. For dinner we would eat at Terre a Terre – my favourite restaurant OF ALL TIME. Vegetarian, gourmet, delicious: I have never had a bad meal at this place. If you find yourselves in Brighton, with perhaps a little cash to spare, then spend your money here. You won’t regret a thing.

With dinner in mind, I got through the day without pudding, hoping to save enough room for a blowout. But when the time came, my stomach almost let me down. I’ll spare you the details of starters and mains (otherwise I could get seriously carried away), except that they filled me to bursting (chunky chips in truffle oil and grated grana padano was probably a step too far in hindsight).

Savouries cleared, the two of us sprawled on our chairs, desperately wishing for hammocks, and knowing that we couldn’t pass on pudding. We strategically decided to bide our time, and after ten long minutes were finally ready to share a chocolate orange martini. Wowzers! What a drink! Fresh orange juice tempered with dark chocolate puree – not to mention all that booze. It warms my cockles just thinking about it…

But what about dessert? I hear you ask. It was, as usual, a difficult choice (especially when I heard mention of the raspberry jam ice cream), but eventually The Man and I settled on two of the most intriguing of the lot.

For me: ‘Nosey Parkin – Hot stem ginger parkin pudding, with toasted oatmeal praline ice cream, sticky ginger sauce and spiced pickled pear.’

For The Man: ‘Brambly Biccie Cheddar Cheesecake – Brambly puree topped with soft cheddar cheesecake and a black pepper
digestive bikky served with fresh blackberry and lemon thyme compote.’

Now, doesn’t that sound ace?? I was certainly pleased with my choice. There were so many textures and temperatures, my tongue was in its element. Soft sponge, toffee, crystallised ginger, oatmeal, an al dente cooked pear. The last of these tasted ever so slightly like Vick’s Vapour Rub, but aside from that I’d give it top marks.

And as for the Cheddar Cheesecake… Well. As you regular Hog Blog Ogglers will know, I don’t care much for savoury cheesecakes – and sadly this one didn’t win me round. Not that it was savoury exactly – the compote and puree put pay to that. Still, I could really taste that cheddar – and it had me pulling faces with each try. Luckily, The Man thought it was good, so there wasn’t any wastage.

Anyway, slightly weird cheesecake aside, my love for Terre a Terre is still whole-heartedly intact. To top it all off, as we staggered out we bought two boxes of awesome salt caramel truffles, as well as a bag of damson and cinnamon jellies. Just when I thought that the love couldn’t any stronger, it grew a huge pair of biceps and swept me off my feet.

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