Home-cooking has taken on a new feel during these locked-down days.
We make do with tired vegetables that have been languishing in the fridge, dusty tins that have stood neglected in cupboards and mysterious bits and pieces lurking forgotten in the bottom of freezers.
Occasionally, if we’re fortunate, we’ll find supermarket shelves that actually have tempting ingredients on them.
The challenge of rustling up a dinner from bits and pieces is a welcome distraction from the gloom that surrounds us. And such thrift is itself satisfying.
But with restaurants and many takeaways closed, it’s hard not to crave professionally-cooked meals prepared for us.
Step forward chef Cydric Tachdjian, who a lot of you will remember from Cheval Blanc and Maison Mayci.
He also ran Scarlett Pimpernel – an eccentric enterprise involving a van that drove round the posher bits of south Birmingham selling French nosh.
Now Cyd’s launched Royal Meal, which delivers food to your door – free in the Moseley, Kings Heath, Edgbaston, Harborne, Northfields, Selly Park and Stirchley areas.
Cyd, who I’ve known since my consultancy work with Cheval Blanc, delivered some dishes to my house at the weekend.
A rustic pork terrine had a fabulous rustic texture – fibrous and satisfying.
The meat was sweet, with offal giving depth and oomph.
A vegetarian risotto was golden and fragrant with an extravagant seasoning of saffron and studded with diced al dente vegetables.
The grains of rice also retained a little bite.
For me, the star of the show was a North African stew – sunny with Mediterranean vegetables and deftly seasoned with sweet spices.
A variety of meats – including merguez sausages – and scattering of chickpeas made this a hearty and satisfying dish.
Alongside we ate cous cous, the grains of which were perfectly separate.
Next came chicken served in a wild garlic cream sauce – the sauce well-judged so that the wild garlic, which can be such a brutal ingredient, added a warm background flavour rather than a punch in the mouth.
This was a soothing and satisfying plateful, its delicate light green hue attractive to the eye.
Pommes Lyonnaise provided the carbs – diced spuds with fried onions that added caramelised sweetness.
This is a dish I shall seek to replicate at home.
The value of Cyd’s offerings seems to be verging on the ridiculous.
A portion of the terrine campagnarde, for instance, is £4.50, the spuds £3.20 and the chicken and wild garlic £4.50.
It was good to reacquaint myself with Cyd’s rustic but highly-skilled cooking.
Especially in these difficult times.
You can find out more about Royal Meal at https://www.globecaterer.co.uk