UNDER the heading “need to get out more” and the twinges of ‘cabin fever’, we decided on an early Christmas treat and took ourselves off to meet 30 close friends at Barrafina, Covent Garden, on Friday for what’s colloquially known as a fat lunch.

They don’t come any fatter. Eight magnificent small plates covering crab, squid, jamon, tomatoes, scallops, artichoke, pork and goat’s cheese. Followed by suckling pig, sweet roasted red peppers and patatas a lo pobre (poor man’s potatoes, which was a bit ironic), c Culminating in an almond tart and washed down with more wine than it was possible to drink. All prepared under the watchful gaze of their Michelin starred chef, Nieves Barragan Mohacho.

It was a truly wonderful, four-hour experience of table hopping between groups of mates and catching up on what’s going on in the world outside of Salisbury.

I came away thinking ‘must try harder’ and am already planning some new dishes to add to our spring menu, dishes to lift the spirits and enhance the joy of life. They don’t have to be complex or complicated, quite often it’s just two or three ingredients coming together like cavalo nero, pan fried in rapeseed oil, seasoning and a light splash of cider vinegar to finish it off. Not a drop of water in sight, absolutely sublime.

Talking of sublime, I was tipped off about a great trick last week, something to make a baked Tunworth even more exquisite. Crisscross the top of the cheese with a knife and insert some shaved truffles under the skin, a splash of white wine doesn’t harm either. Then bake in the oven at 180 for about 25 minutes and scoop up with a slice of Henderson’s toasted sourdough. You can find truffle carpaccio online at Truffle Hunter, it’s not that expensive really considering the joy it brings.

Have a very merry Christmas. 2017, bring it on.