We turned up at 7 pm with two bottles of the recommended wine (a Medoc and a Vin de Pays d'Oc), to find the church lit by the candles usually reserved for Carols by Candlelight or Midnight Mass, and two long trestle tables running the length of the nave. Final touches were being made to the decorations, and a man dressed as an orthodox priest was wandering around muttering in a thick French accent and dusting down guests with a pink feather duster!
We took our places and were served a cocktail containing cider, drambuie, sherry, and lime! It was surprisingly palatable.
Proceedings took a while to get started but we had plenty to drink and friends to chat with. Eventually the 'real' vicar said grace and service began. Each course was introduced by the French priest who would have been very informative if we could have made out what he was saying. However it didn't matter in the least as the most important thing was what the food tasted like - and it was delicious.
We started with a Delice de St Antoine, boudin noir and caramel apple.
Followed by a platter of charcuterie - coppa, saucisson sec, pate de campagne and pate en croute, served with Bertinet sourdough bread and a dish of radishes, cornichons, pickled onions and olives.
Next came a slice of brawn with celeriac remoulade.
Followed by a glass of poached rhubarb and vodka.
The main course was a slice of slow roast pork ham loin with madeira glaze, smoked pancetta, cotechino and braised choucroute, served with a potato, leek and apple gratin with cheese.
The cheese course featured Trethowans's Gorwydd Caerphilly and Stichelton and Homewood's Old Demdike with more Bertinet sourdough bread.
And to finish we were served a Royal au Chocolat with a coffee cream sauce.
This will go down as one of the most memorable meals of my life. My only quibble was that I found the loin of pork slightly too salty for my taste, but I don't salt much at home and no one else remarked on it. The highlights were the delice, the boudin, the pate en croute and the cheese.
The ambience was excellent. We were serenaded by the Gaulois brothers on their guitars and an accordion. Guests were invited to get up and dance between courses and a few did. There was none of the pretension I feared. Everyone was there to enjoy the food and the company, and neither let us down.
I'm grateful to Mike for organising the event and Castellano's for rising to the challenge.
I hope it is the first of many such events.