It’s okay to grieve the small stuff. Just because there are bigger struggles, more tragic tragedies, doesn’t mean
you can’t feel sad about the thousand little ways your life has changed over the last month. You can miss the days when you didn’t have to cut your own hair and still support front-line healthcare professionals. Sadness is not a zero sum game.
I miss restaurants. I miss those silly smears chefs daub over every spare inch of plate. I miss a sommelier confidently handing me a glass of something that tastes like watermelon or crisps. But most of all, after weeks of cooking for myself, I miss someone putting a plate of
something delicious in front of me, wanting nothing in return but the contents of my wallet.
For those experiencing similar withdrawal symptoms, allow me to direct you towards One Fine Dine, a company that preps fine dining quality food and delivers it chilled to your door for you to construct and heat up. It’s the brainchild of Daniel Hulme, who developed some nifty techniques working as a chef for the private jet industry. Through some “blast chilling” witchcraft, he is able to deliver little tubs of ingredients that you can simply stick in the microwave, which is just as well, because my oven packed in on day one of lockdown.
After warming it all up, you just have to follow the attached menu cards – or YouTube videos – to make sure it looks as good as it tastes. The instructions are granular, right down to which direction and angle you should make your (inevitable) smears of puree, which are not as easy to pull off as they appear.
For those of us living in quarantine – a sentence that still feels utterly mad to write – the prospect of restaurant quality food is almost unbearably exciting. I even made an effort and put on a pair of trousers. The menu is exhaustive, but after many minutes agonising, I went for a quail scotch egg with truffle and pickled girolles; crab salad; beef fillet with fondant potato and king oyster mushrooms; miso cod; citrus tart; and an apple pie.
And it really is excellent. This is food you would be genuinely pleased to be served down a fancy mews in Mayfair. It’s low-key astonishing that you can make fillet steak this good in a microwave, something that is only partly explained by the fact I haven’t eaten red meat in a fortnight. The apple pie even had that ‘straight from the oven’ crunch, despite – I reiterate – it having been finished off in a microwave.
They even have a wine list so you can pick out something more exciting than whatever hasn’t been ransacked from the shelves of your local Co-op. The punchy Portuguese red I had was a fine accompaniment to what is, without a doubt, the best meal I’ve eaten in weeks.
• One Fine Dine costs £59.95 per head for 3 courses. For more information visit onefinedine.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3733 2303