My dear friend and lush Kirsty proclaimed to me that Wimbledon had started on Saturday. Ever the traditionalist, I spat out my early morning iced tea and said that this could not be true! Kirsty took the high ground and stomped her foot like a cornered wild boar.
“Check the Television dear, there is a man with long hair playing as we speak!,” she said.
Ah! television that superb fabulist. I flicked on to see a brilliant five set match of tennis unfurling before my eyes….alas it wasn’t quite live.
“OK this is a match between Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter from 2001. The biggest giveaway is that they keep mentioning that it is the final!!”
We mustn’t laugh too hard at dear old K because she, like the rest of us, was just looking forward to a wonderful tennis tournament that stinks of summer; the All Englishness of it, the champers, and the plump English strawberries. I often show my face on the first Monday and always pack a lovely Eton Mess, or being Shirburnian, a Sherborne Mess.
But it is equally good grazing with a jug of Pimms on the weekend while watching the matches from home!
Sherborne may not have had Churchill, a plethora of Prime Ministers, or the splendid Henry Blofeld. But by golly we had the King of Swaziland, Chris Martin, Hampshire’s captain JHK Adams, and the marvellous John Le Carre.
A Sherborne Mess. Yields 4.
1/2 litre double cream
1 punnet of strawberries
5 meringue nests
If attending SW19, all prep must be done the evening before. But from home, one must begin before Sue Barker has graced the television with fabulous old Tim Henman.
1. Hull the strawberries (leaving 5 aside) and plonk them into a saucepan with the lemon juice and a generous tablespoon of icing sugar. Place a lid on and gently cook over a low heat until the strawbugs are tender.
2. There will be a lot of liquid – strain it into another pan – put the poached strawberries into a magimix. Bring the liquor to the boil and cook for 30seconds – add to the magimix and blend until super smooth. Transfer the coulis to a bowl and refrigerate.
3. In a large bowl pour the cream, 3 tablespoons of icing sugar, and middle of the vanilla pod. Hand whisk it – do not us a machine, it will become butter!! Plus you may lose some weight whipping – until the cream forms soft peaks. Reserve in a large serving bowl.
4. Chop the remaining strawberries and put them in the bowl which already contains the cream.
5. Tend to the Pimms and perhaps pour your first glass of the splendid punch!
6. Whilst Roger Federer glides serenely round the court you should do the same in the kitchen whilst your guests talk about new balls.
7. Crudely crack meringues into the cream bowl and paddle it around.
8. Bit by bit add the coulis carefully folding it to create a marbling split effect of thee two colours.
9. Chop some fresh mint and sprinkle over the top.
10. Hey presto – Wimbledone!