Sunday 9 February
For Evensong, we went to a united collegiate choir service at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, and enjoyed the sensation of all the choirs singing together around us. Then we went back to Brasenose, where Barbara is a member of the senior common room this term, for drinks in the medieval kitchen and dinner on High Table.
Francesca, from the Development Office, kindly lent Barbara a gown. We met and chatted with Rich and Bill, attorneys, who later put Harold in touch with a barrister to interview; and Leslie and Helen, who are theater historians, the former from Albuquerque (talk about your small world).
Then we proceeded into Hall, which is not quite as stunning as Christ Church's, but considerably homier; and the food was even better.
We started with prawn and scallop tortellone with sautéed vegetables in a bisque sauce, accompanied by Chateau Maligny Chablis 2007.
Then we went on to a perfect rare Oxfordshire fillet of beef, with horseradish potato cake, seasonal vedge (chinese cabbage, parsnip, butternut squash), swimming in rich beef jus. A Chateau Thieuley 2006 stood up to it all nicely.
And of course, there was pudding: a tower of Italian meringue with plum-blackberry ice cream and dabs of plum compote artfully arranged on the plate.
Then we picked up our napkins and were led back through the Senior Common Room into a formal parlor for dessert, where Jonathan cordially seated us with people we hadn't talked to on High Table. We were served a wide selection of cheeses (Barbara went right for the Stilton), chocolates, and fruit. The claret was Gigondas Domaine la Rubine 2006, the dessert wine Coteau du Layon Vielle Vignes 2009, and the port Doña Antonia Reserve Tawny - and we now have a great respect for whoever runs the Brasenose cellar as well as whoever runs the kitchen.
Snuff was ceremoniously carried round in a silver box; Harold and Holt tried and regretted it, but now they can say that.
Eventually we staggered home in an agreeable state of over-the-topness.