A friend was graduating with a master’s degree and invited me to Trinity College’s graduation lunch. There were perhaps 25 of us in the Allhusen Room, dominated by light new panelling, rather than the more usual wood darkened by centuries of coal fires. On one wall sits a huge coloured panel like a clock face, with a pointer connected to the roof. What might you want to know about the outside weather? Hot or cold? Wet or dry? Calm or gale? No, this one just tells you the wind direction, not even its strength. It was easterly.
Legend hath it that they serve exactly the same food every year. It began with Orkney smoked salmon with raw onion rings and lemon, and green peppercorns. It was good quality stuff, too. Then came beef Stroganoff with rice and crunchy green beans. No detectable fat or gristle on the beef, and a tasty sauce that didn’t overdo the cream. Then came a dish invented in Trinity: crÃ¨me brulÃ©e. I wonder if it would have caught on had they called it “Burnt Edinburgh Cream” as originally intended. This was in large dishes to serve several people, so I thought I’d miss the pleasure of hearing the sugar surface break with a satisfyingly loud crack. But no, by chance they broached a new dish when my turn came, so they broke it in front of me. The sugar shell was about a millimetre thick and very crunchy. The crÃ¨me was thick with texture and tasted brilliant. They still know how to do it.
It was a really good lunch, though the white and red wines were totally unremarkable, and the coffee tasted of nothing at all.