Friday, 20 May 2011

Winner's Dinners

I had dinner at Michael Winner's house the other night. This kind of stuff occasionally happens to me - occasionally - and it's always so surreal when it does that I tend to forget all about it. But I remembered just now that I had been because I was thinking about dinner parties.

I had better be discreet about Michael Winner's house because I'd want some shitty half-arsed blogger to be disscreet about mine but I can definitely say that it was extremely grand with a lovely garden. As you'd expect. And Michael Winner is a very charming person and Geraldine is a hoot. But I've always thought that. People think that Michael Winner is some kind of monster because his columns are a bit brisk but they don't understand that he's only joking. There was another guest at dinner who did an outrageous impersonation of Michael pretty much all evening and Michael seemed to think it was funny. Or at least didn't mind, which I think speaks volumes.

The really interesting thing about the dinner was the dinner. There is, thanks to programmes I guess like Masterchef and Come Dine With Me, to attempt to make dinner at one's house like a restaurant experience. And I really thought that was what would happen at Winner Towers.

But actually what we got was the definition of a kitchen supper, which is all any of us ought to aspire to when making dinner for friends in our own home. There were some fantastic canapes, (mini spanakopita, thai pork somethingorother wrapped in lettuce, roast beef on crostini etc) and some really good smoked salmon as a starter.

THEN there was a choice of chicken in a kind of tarragonny cream sauce or beef stroganoff with salad and either white or brown rice. And you were allowed to help yourself!! There is nothing more terrifying or kind of un-jolly than someone else deciding how much you want for dinner. Then there was some cheesecake so amazing that I still regret not taking the leftovers home. But I didn't know if Michael was joking or not when he said that I could.

I hope you don't think I'm bragging telling you about this. I don't mean to. I just thought it was interesting and instructive that what Michael Winner wants to eat is moreish canapes, excellent smoked salmon and a good honest plate of stroganoff with rice.

So next time you're sitting there going "fuck, fuck, fuck" at the prospect of cooking for six people, just bear this in mind. People aren't coming to a restaurant, they're coming to your house. Don't even bother with something as elaborate as a roast.

Keep it simple and everyone will be happy; someone might even impersonate you for the whole evening. Imagine that.  


  1. Yay for Winner!

    I love the man and by the sounds of it he knows how to entertain.

    I enjoyed reading about it so don't feel guilty for sharing your fortune.

  2. Love it! Programmes like come dine with me always put the pressure on when you have people round, but I always find that a good old lasagne or fish pie goes down amazingly well. I feel like I'm cheating a bit by cooking something like that, but people always seems to enjoy it, plus you don't have to spend the entire evening stood in the kitchen while your guests amuse themselves. Good on Michael Winner.

  3. Very true! Although, not sure I would go so far as offering a choice - it's hard enough balancing everyone's vegetarianism/dislikes of certain foods etc...without preparing 2 separate mains, although thinking about it maybe that's the answer.

    I have a friend who has started doing lots of little courses all presented to you - is nice in some ways, but you do feel a bit of pressure and it can get a bit formal like you're having a tasting menu in a restaurant.

    Leftovers - I always palm mine off to friends, I live alone and so leaving me with half a sticky toffee pudding is not the best idea as I'll scoff it all myself. I've got past the fake offer - everyone knows now that I mean it.

    Good to have you back (know I'm a bit late on this one....)

    Oh and - I know you're a perfectionist or I wouldnt't say it, but "disscreet"??


  4. Hello Esther

    A nice piece, discreetly written and not bragging at all. I'm ashamed to admit I brag dreadfully.

    You're dead right when you write "people aren't coming to a restaurant, they're coming to your house." It's daft to try to produce intricate, restaurant-style meals as a) you'll probably fail and b) it's an insult to your guests if you spend all the time in the kitchen.

    Though we DO sometimes serve roasts, we also serve traditional, delicious, comforting casseroles – such as Boeuf Bourguignon – which can be ready in advance with much of the washing up done. Homely dishes like that are something restaurants rarely do well and probably shouldn't try to, as it's an entirely different experience.

  5. Winner, Winner, chicken dinner! Sorry, very lame, but couldn't resist!

  6. Aww, I was going to say what highpriestess said! Instead I'll just say "lucky you." Sound like you had a great time!


  7. True. To paraphrase Nigella Lawson, "It's dinner, not a fucking home-economics exam."

  8. Did you ask him for the cheesecake recipe by any chance


  9. Loved this, plus the fact that you got to serve yourselves - I did that once when I had friends over and got accused of being rude letting them help themselves! Don't get it myself but there you go! Great post, thanks for sharing.