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REVIEW: New Year's Eve Dinner at the Royal Dart Yacht Club

17th January 2020

Club member Jude Owens gives us the lowdown on the RDYC New Year celebrations

New Year’s Eve at the club was a swanky soirée on the theme of black and white - and with the beguiling addition of bling. As if we needed an excuse to dress-up! And so, the bar fizzed with anticipation and club members dressed to impress, all gathered together in this elusive time zone for the final few hours of one year, and poised to step into the next.

To get into the mood, we were soon sipping a cunningly-named Christmas Comet cocktail of Salcombe Rose Gin, Chambord, lemon juice, Angostura Bitters, and ingenious vanilla – topped up with soda and a raspberry. Black and white might have been the dress code, but this was pink and pretty and oh-so impishly quaffable. Dainty canapés of cured salmon croustade - delishy fishy, along with a perky chive and red onion goat’s cheese tartelette amused our bouche. The evening had begun.

To the dinner and the dining room was dressed-up for the occasion too. Tables sparkled with candles and silver beads and pearls on silver-star cloths as we awaited our celebratory feast of culinary delights.

Befitting a yacht club and riverside location, the melt-in­-the-mouth roast scallops served in their natural abode was a delectate début. Crisp and sharp pickled pear and sweet chestnut, decorated with a bitter leaf salad offset the richness of this fruit de mer jewel in the crown. Style and substance were definitely in harmony.

The next stage on our culinary journey was a revelation. A boozy palate cleanser ready for the main event. A cocktail glass with Kirsch granita, festooned with confit lemon, and Kirsch-soaked cherries on a cocktail stick seductively balanced on top. The inevitable oohs and aahs ensued as this slinky sweet and sour delight slipped down with wild abandonment.

To the main course. The king of the beasts, roast beef fillet cooked with such loving tender care that it was like cutting through beefy butter. The mystery guest for this course that got us all talking was an oozy roast beef marrow, side by side with a sturdy and savoury potato fondant and hazelnut green beans, bathed in a Bordelaise sauce. Now, I had to Google the sauce, as “bordel” en français has an altogether fruitier meaning…! But as an interesting aside for fellow foodies, Bordelaise sauce is derivative of red wine, bone marrow, butter, shallots, and sauce demi-glace. En bref, a rich, lovingly and lingeringly deep and delicious gravy. But then greedy Northern Lass that I am (as you’ll no doubt recall), I must declare an interest as une fille de gravy.

Time for a pause (or in my case, an inter-course snooze!). Besides there’s something about the power of anticipating one’s next course and the point culminant, A.K.A. pudding!

The Quiz. Kindly prepared by Mike and Ruth Green, the Club’s Quiz Aficionados and based on New Year’s Eve – get ready – international witches. With our black and white dress code this certainly added to the ambiance.

Fingers on buzzers for witch whizzes amongst you, could you answer this one?

BEFANA: is a New Year witch who comes from…?

a) Portugal

b) Italy

c) Mexico

Answer at the end…

Two teams can perhaps claim to have excelled in their witch wisdom. To a certain extent...But there were clearly gaps in our knowledge of these enchantresses of the night. Never mind, this particular night was still young.

Then, Commodore Richard Haycock announced the winner of the best interpretation of black and white with bling recognising a number of deserving hopefuls – including Anne Davis who bore a cunning resemblance to a zebra crossing in her striped trouser suit and many a male member sporting a gangster-like white tie. But congratulations must go to Jo Hutton who took the prize for the girls with her stylish outfit; whilst Nigel Moores did the boys proud with his Christmas lights-inspired neck adornment.

And so, better informed about witches, to the final foodie business of the night; which, once again, showed Hayden’s patisserie pudding prowess - that even witches couldn’t magic up. A rich dark chocolate tart with classic Christmas partners in crime, chocolate and orange ice cream; artistically adorned with a brandy snap and orange confit and segments. Every sweet mouthful felt naughty and I was tempted to snaffle half of the tart in my handbag for a later needy naughty moment.

We were now officially in the final witching hour of 2019 as we retired back downstairs to the bar with the promise of that Holy Trinity: homemade sausage rolls, coffee and champagne. And as the clock chimed the hour of midnight we raised a glass and with magical goodwill and good cheer we wished one and all a happy new year. Cue lights, Auld Lang Syne, chinking glasses and a hug and a kiss (I blame the chocolate...!).

With my eye on the sausage rolls, all I needed now was music to dance the night away.

Thank you to Hayden and team, the waiting-on staff and the Social Committee for a stylish way to end the year and to bring in the new. I would like to wish all our Royal Dart Yacht Club members a very happy, healthy and hopeful new year.

Answer: Italy, of course.

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