Saturday 5 April
We bussed into London for the day, to browse through Tate Modern, and to see Cavalli's opera L'Ormindo in the new Sam Wanamaker Theater. So the most convenient place to have dinner was at the Swan, right in the Globe Theater complex.
The bar downstairs was crowded, noisy, and had few comfortable chairs, so we were happy to be taken up to the second floor, which was quieter, with a view of St. Paul's out the open, small-paned windows. Why one wall of the restaurant is tiled with azulejos depicting a longhorn steer named Herakles (in Greek) is beyond us.
We opened with a bottle of Trebbiano rubico white, which suited the springlike mood. Then we set out on the theater menu, which is all the Swan serves at this pre-theater time.
Our starters: carrot and coriander soup, warm and spicy, served with a drizzle of crème fraîche; and a pot of salmon rillettes sealed with a disc of butter, eaten with doorstops of healthy bread, bitter leaves (rocket and watercress) and mustard dressing.
The best of our mains was confit duck, with proper sides of Puy lentils and braised red cabbage.
The other was almost the only other choice, haddock and parsley fish cakes with a poached egg - admittedly with a very fresh orange yolk - and hollandaise sauce. Let's be honest, the fish cake was mainly potato, so an over-ten-pound course probably contained a pound fifty's worth of ingredients.
We ended with desserts: blood orange granita with vanilla cream, again in a little glass pot; and a spectacular assemblage of rhubarb and white chocolate pavlova, looking like something we'd just seen at the Tate.
But it couldn't rival L'Ormindo, for sweetness, singing, or spectacle. An unforgettable day, indeed.