Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dining with the Stars

Last night I went to dinner, the Piano Pavilion’s annual Christmas dinner. Every year I’m lucky enough to be invited as my good friend Karen is the boss! Although always a fabulous affair this year was a little more special.

We were dining at the Lemon Tree  in Southchurch a Mediterranean restaurant owned by 4 brothers. I’d spent the whole day listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album to get me into the festive mood; Michael was later joined by my friend Malibu and Ginger Beer to add to the “sprit”.

It only occurred to me this morning that Mr Buble’ may have been jealous of my evening in little old Essex, as we were dining with two legends Mr Buddy Greco, who was part of THE Rat Pack and his beautiful wife Lezlie Anders currently starring in FEVER! a tribute show to Peggy Lee.

The Greco’s have become friends of the Piano Pavilion over the past year and we all (including me!) hope to raise money together for (at risk/young carers) children to have piano’s and lesson’s funded as a creative outlet to their current situation. 80 years ago a four year old Buddy was given the same chance and as I heard him say the first time I met him - In Philadelphia you either became a criminal or a musician. Dozens of albums later we all know which path he took. See about the Project here

We were a 20 strong group and so I wasn’t able to chat much to Buddy and Lezlie, I find myself a little shy and star struck when I’ve met them and have to hold back an embarrassing barrage of questions about their careers and lives!

It was completely satisfying when the brash table next to ours stopped to watch Buddy and our very own local musician Tony Compton duet on the restaurants piano (Of course from the Pavilion) on their way out and to see their jaws fall to the floor when they were informed of their entertainments name and status – now if only we’d informed them earlier!

Buddy and Tony

What I love about the Piano Pavilions Christmas meal is the eclectic set of personalities around one table! I spent my evening chatting to Karen’s friends Frank and Dave who both had long careers in casino’s all over the world, most of the stories I wouldn’t dare repeat, but it makes me appreciate that although I may not be living in London or New York (childhood dreams) you can meet some of the most interesting people on your doorstep – yay for Southend!

The food at the Lemon tree was delicious! I had goats cheese with filo pastry shards dressed in a walnut and honey dressing to start and a beautiful rump steak in a mustard and mushroom sauce followed. Due to the volume of Christmas parties; the restaurant doesn’t have time to ask how you’d like your steak but mine came out medium to well done with just enough pink through the middle, the only criticism was the Brussels sprouts were overdone tasting bitter (yes I am one of those weridos who loves their sprouts) but you had such a large plate of other veg and lovely crisp roast potatoes that you certainly didn’t go hungry! The staff at the restaurant were so attentive and helpful, couldn't do enough for their customers, I will be going back soon!

To finish the meal I had profiteroles with a generous dose of cream, as for what I had to drink I couldn’t tell you, all I know was it was a beautiful white wine picked by the Piano Pavilions resident wine connoisseur Michael and thanks to him we never just do with the house wine but get to sample gorgeous tipple from around the globe, just another very interesting person sat round our dinner table!

Lastly I have to thank my friend Karen not just for a wonderful night out but for her continued friendship and support, as she puts it “Lynsey and my son split up, but we didn’t” and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

L x

*If you’d like to see Buddy in action this Christmas; he’s performing on Jools Hollands Hootenanny on New Years Eve BBC One

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