This is it. Tonight is the first official girlie night in of 2010, as The Other Half speeds up to Yorkshire for an evening of Rugby League.
Planning for this auspicious occasion is well underway.
It started with today's breakfast visit to Pret a Manger. Alongside the eminently sensible porridge, I picked up a slice of chocolate cake. It was opening, with no ceremony whatsoever, 10.38am, revealing a lovely slab of rich, moist sponge, topped in grated chocolate.
The key plan for the evening is simple. I will work through lunch so that I can leave work early. I will get the bus to Oxford Street and re-visit Ann Harvey, where I will ask them to remove the security tag from the leather jacket I bought there on Monday. Given that it didn't set off any alarms when I waltzed out of the shop with my purchases, I didn't notice it until Wednesday.
I will then go to almost-next-door John Lewis. Once there, I may drool over the shoes, but the main task will be to visit the food hall.
I've got my fingers crossed that they'll have some scallops. Preferably, king ones. I had scallops a couple of weeks ago in Gateshead. The hotel boasted seasonal aspects to the menu, including a 'turf 'n' surf' dish of scallops from nearby Whitley Bay, plus a steak from Northumberland cattle. The steak was decent, but the scallops – three small ones, looking lost on top of the meat – were a disappointment, not least for the amount. And that was ironic, since the hotel restaurant had that very UK habit of serving over-sized portions.
One evening, I decided to go for the chef's menu – a very reasonable £25 for three courses. I started with a salad of red bell pepper, some other vegetable that I've forgotten, Feta cheese and a tapenade dressing. Very nicely presented as a sort of tower affair, there must have been at least two – if not three – whole peppers included. There wasn't too much Feta or the second veg, and it was pleasant – but why so much?
Then came my main course: oven roasted salmon with a shallot and roasted tomato risotto. Oh dear. Setting aside the dryness of both fish and rice, there was at least as much risotto as I'd serve for a whole meal, plus twice as much salmon as I'd serve for a portion. An absurd amount. Oh – and shallots should form the base of a risotto anyway, so don't list them as a special ingredient when they're nothing of the sort. And if you're going to claim that roasted tomatoes are a major flavouring, then make sure there's more than two small bits with such a hulking amount of rice.
There are times when knowing about food isn't really conducive to enjoying what's put in front of you. Although at least it creates some balance – not everything can be universally brilliant.
But back to scallops.
I have no intention of this being complex. It'll be simple stuff – seared seafood, served with cannellini or borlotti beans (let's see what I can get) with a little red chili and some wilted salady stuff. Simples – as those bloody meerkats on the advert keep telling me.
And a good white wine. That's a must. Something crisp and fresh to compliment the seafood and the chili. Maybe a good Riesling.
So, that's dinner sorted.
Before that, I'll get back, do any chores I need to do and then chuck myself in a luxury bath with Molton & Brown bubble bath, then I'll don my jimjams and slob for the rest of the evening.
I may watch a film. If I do, it may be a musical. If that's the case, it may be Rodgers & Hammerstein – possibly even The Sound of Music. In which case, with wine as accompaniment, I will doubtless join in.
And I will, of course, have the kittens and Boudicca to keep me company.
I'm not sure, of course, but I don't think it could be much more girlified – and I'm looking forward to it enormously.