The 2012/2013 season started on an impeccably high note. Member Saltieri (incumbent Curry Ace) treated all that attended to a masterclass in curry-based event planning: a 3-pint paddle apiece at The Woodman, an outstanding meal at Varanasi Chefs and a decampment to Bunga Bunga so debauched it would have made its patron saint proud.
“Best Curry Club ever!”
“That won’t be topped for the rest of the season!”
“Where the hell is Boxing Steve?”
As the Club dispersed into that fateful winter night, unbeknownst to all, these superlatives wielded a double-edged sword. For from this dizzying height, the Club was doomed to wander the proverbial wilderness for the rest of the season. A few spatterings here and there to the odd curry house, but with no real direction or sense of purpose. Member Dirtbox deserves an honourable mention here for his valiant attempts to maintain the banner in turbulent winds.
However, the Club (and indeed man himself) did not get to where it is today by dwelling on past mistakes. The only thing to salvage the situation and rub a soothing cumin-based salve into open wounds was, of course, a winter formal for the festive season. One that would promise a bountiful 2014; a year of goodwill to all men and plenty of well-spiced Dhansaks.
And where better a location than Gymkhana? A self-described fusion of the Colonial Raj and modern British cuisine that has been the recipient of stellar reviews across the board. My favourite here by Jay Rayner who asks the more than appropriate question: Why do we balk at spending money on expensive Indian food?
After some predictable naysaying from members Dyson and Glenhole, the date was set for Saturday 7th December.
The whole experience was certainly a far-cry away from the usual fare. As the Club descended into the dimly lit vault room in the cosy bowels of the venue, even member Glenhole was momentarily silenced by the resplendent décor.
New member Danger Fleming chose to open proceedings with an off the cuff speech. He later shared his extensive notes with me so I could prepare my own between the Gilafi Pheasant Seekh Kebab and Kasoori Turkey Tikka. I post them below in their entirety in case anyone else is ever in need of emergency speech preparation techniques:
– Thank Johnny (mispelt)
– Something about curry
Amid some unusual but refreshing cocktails such as The Spice Monopoly and the Ooty Town Gimlet, member Kev led the Club through the Curry Prayer which was respectfully observed by all. It was then that the six course tasting menu (preceeded, thankfully, by a healthy smattering of poppadoms and chutney) came thick and fast.
Aside from the aforementioned Kebab and Tikka, the Club noshed down Potato Chat, Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns (a firm favourite), Kid Goat Methi Keema, Suckling Pig Vindaloo, Garlic Crab and Saffron Pistachio Kulfi Falooda. Oustanding. Every last morsel spiced to perfection. Everyone in harmonious agreement.
However, grizzled patrons of the Club will know better than anyone that discord is rarely struck amongst the food. But member politics prove time and time again to be a hotbed, with certain members constantly getting ideas above their meagre station. The self-styled Che Guevara of the lower tables, member Glenhole was insufferable throughout the meal and did not abate in his heckling of the top table throughout proceedings. Needless to say, his presence was artfully struck from the photo above by member Dyson.
A resounding evening that has reaffirmed the foundations that the Club was built on. Bring on January!
Member Skinny Pete will of course start the 2014 season at -1 points for bringing a bird along.