What is it about midweek drinking that seems like such a good idea at the time but which can so easily turn into the morning after sent directly from the crotchpocket of the Devil himself? I used to be able to to do it, I really did. I used to be able to shrug off a couple of three quid bottles of barrel scraped plonk that I picked up from the local petrol station before a nice little night cap of Asda own-brand whiskey*, then get up bright eyed and bushy tailed before breezing into the office without stinking like Father Jack after a particularly heavy session. But no more, and quite honestly I’m pretty glad about that because it means if I do deliberately choose to make myself feel like crap for a day or so, you’ll be damn sure I’ll do it in style.
Mrs P and I were recently invited to The Old Thatched Inn at Adstock and were very impressed. So much so, that immediately following the meal we signed up for an upcoming wine tasting night to sample some of visiting vineyard owner Geoff Merrill’s finest product alongside a four course menu from TOTI’s kitchen. For those who don’t already know how I feel about TOTI, take a look here and then come back, but for those who don’t need reminding let me jump straight to the juicy details:
The evening started well with multiple glasses of bubbly and a selection of canapés pressed into our eagerly accepting palms before we sat down at communal tables and I introduced myself to the young at heart gentleman** sitting next to me. He was also called Rob but was thoroughly (and vocally) unimpressed when I told him I was a blogger and took a picture of my place setting. His wife, Sue, was sat next to Mrs P and very soon we all engaged in discussions on the absurdity of the ‘youth of today’ taking photos of everything***.
The menu looked good and I sipped on my glass of Pimpala Road (a very reasonable £10 per bottle) while I listened to the man himself introduce his story and his wines. Geoff, it turns out, is a gloriously politically incorrect character who spoke with passion about wine, his life and the way that the two things are inseparable. Unsurprisingly I really liked him. Not usually a white wine drinker for preference, this was easily my favourite of the evening. Classic Souvignoun Blanc with some soft sweet Semillion flavours mixed in gave this bottle the perfect summer evening vibe. Seriously easy to drink.
If you consider that the kitchen was cooking for over 50 people simultaneously, lobster was a brave choice and there were understandable inconsistencies. Geoff and Mrs P agreed that their lobsters were cooked perfectly, whereas mine and some overheard conversations suggested that not everyone was quite so lucky. However, ever so slightly overdone lobster is completely forgotten when it is dipped into some avocado mayonnaise because that stuff was utterly moorish.
Mains followed swiftly with more than a couple of glasses of… well, I’ll have to admit that I can’t tell you which of the two reds I had first. Both were nice and clearly worth the £15 that you can buy them for but by this point I was well on the way to enjoying the evening a little too much.
I do remember Geoff’s very poignant story behind naming his Shiraz Jacko after a lad who used to work for him and the whole room appreciated the honesty and integrity as well as the smooth, dry punch of the wine as we moved into the main course.
Again, I place any issue firmly at the feet of cooking for so many people at once which is something that’s very, very hard but the kitchen had produced a good plate of food with the beef and veg faring well. However, I’m afraid that the rice didn’t taste much of ginger and the sauce was a little backyard-BBQ generic, which for a restaurant like TOTI is unfortunate. Still, by this point the evening was in full swing and quite honestly the atmosphere and ambience was far more important as Mrs P, Rob, Sue and I were busy thoroughly enjoying every second.
Pudding and pudding wine followed and the evening was finished in perfectly rich chocolatey style with, what Google tells me, is a “white chocolate cheesecake on a lamington finger base. Perfect for Australia Day or any special occasion.” So there you go, never having had a lamington cake or even a finger before, I can testify that in the hands of TOTI, it was indeed delicious.
From the little else I can recall, the evening was crowned off by me leaning out of the car window and performing drive-by highfives before Mrs P could take me home. I’m not proud of that. Looking through my receipts a day later, I was reassured that on top of the £45 per person for the meal and drinks, I didn’t spend too much on ordering more of Geoff’s wine and I can therefore accept any headache and nausea that may have ensued as a necessary side effect of such a brilliant evening out. Check out their events page, but if you fancy joining us there at the next wine tasting evening, I would recommend booking the next day off work.
*It used to come in a plastic bottle like all your classy hard liquors.
**My inherent sense of British understatement refuses to allow me to describe him in any other way.
***I’ve not been a ‘youth’ for over 20 years but I’ll take that.