'Who?' my little sister asked once again, her voice rising incredulously. 'You know,' I tried to explain once again. 'She's a new friend.' My little sister looked at me disbelievingly. Honestly, I'd had enough. It had started days ago, over breakfast. Or what I wanted to call breakfast, adhering to the strictest terms of the word itself - to break fast. 'It's 12pm,' my little sister announced, as I carefully scrambled some eggs. 'I don't think you can call this breakfast.' Thrilled, I began my detailed etymological explanation. During it, my sister left the kitchen, so I had to follow her into the living room, and then, inconveniently, finish my explanation outside of the toilet. During this time, which would have been much shorter if I wasn't being interrupted so often with cries of 'stop following me', my eggs dried out.
That was the first strike. The second was when she asked if I was certain that this person was really 'a friend', and when I assured her that she was, asked for certain 'proofs', such as a sworn affidavit and medically-certified certificate of full mental capacity. In order to prevent the third strike, which would have forced me to take drastic action, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the great teddy-bear shaving of '97, I invited my sister to dinner.
I agree- it seems like an odd sort of pre-emptive strike. But this dinner was different. One, it was cool, which meant that my sister would think I was cool. Two, it was one of those places where you eat at long trestle tables- sort of like a wedding, if food at weddings was any good and you hadn't already slept with half your table, which made introductions nigh on impossible. I was hoping to prove definitively that I am excellent at making new friends.
I took her to Carousel, which is in Marylebone, and run by four impossibly beautiful young cousins. 'We could do something,' I pointed out to my sister. 'Some kind of family business.' 'Oh, I'm already doing something,' she replied cavalierly. 'With the cousins.' She paused, to look at me. 'Sorry, we would have included you but we didn't think you had anything to offer.'
Luckily, we were greeted at Carousel with a stiff welcome cocktail. Carousel hosts a revolving set of two week residencies - chefs from all over Europe take over the space and put on tasting menus. It's one of the best reasons to Bremain I've heard yet. Bar Brutal were in charge - they usually run a wine and tapas bar in Barcelona, which specialises in 'vins libres'. I was reliably informed that 'vins libres' refers to wine made without chemicals and with minimum technological intervention, which I thought sounded very impressive, and dutifully wrote down on my napkin. (I later used said napkin for its intended purpose, so it is possible that this is not entirely correct, but it sounds good, and really, isn't that what matters?)
We had a 7 course tasting menu, with wine pairings for every course. Now, I know I'm a bit hazy on the technical definition of 'vins libres', but I can say absolutely that, however they may be made, I do not like them. Which was a shame, because the food was faultless. Beautiful, interesting, perfectly balanced plates that made me wish that each course was bigger - although that is no reflection on the portion sizes, but only on my own greed.
Bar Brutal are gone, but Carousel continue to host impeccably thought out, innovative and delicious set menus, alongside the opportunity to sit next to new friends, one of which might very likely be me.