Mr PBBB took me to Copenhagen this weekend for a belated birthday treat and to mark our 10th anniversary. What a lovely husband he is, sometimes.
The decision to take me to the Danish capital may not have been as random or indeed romantic as I first thought, given the number of times I heard the sentence 'well of course Denmark has one of the most exciting craft beer scenes in Europe these days'. However, this weekend was one of those that was entirely enhanced by the beer thing. We had dinner with the fabulous Anders Kissmeyer at his brewpub, Norrebro Bryghus and were taken on a gastronomic beery feast that included most of a cow, an unlikely dessert made from liquorice, beetroot and parsnip and a range of Anders' astonishing beers, ending up with a brandy snifter of the delightfully named Little Korkny Ale, a foot-stomping, who-needs-dessert barley wine that was so delicious we took out another mortgage for some more in the bar downstairs after Anders had left. If you ever go to Copenhagen, put Norrebro Bryghus at the top of your list and don't have a big breakfast.
But the best moment happened entirely without the helping hand of beerage. Mr PBBB's not fussy about his food (I know that's hard to believe given how malnourished he looks) but two of his least favourite things are cream and coffee. I can recount literally hundreds of conversations that go something like 'Cream - I don't believe it!! I hate cream. Why don't they SAY there's going to be cream on it on the MENU for God's sake? It's ridiculous. Cream, yeuch.' Then there's the equally familiar 'No thanks, I don't really drink coffee. Do you have peppermint tea instead?'
We ate at the wonderful Peder Oxe on Saturday night, and the sheer elegance of the interiors - Portuguese tiles, open fires, atmospheric lighting - was matched only by the absolutely exquisite waitresses. Every single one of them made Helena Christiansen look like the unfortunate love-child of Les Dawson and Ena Sharples. The most divine of them came to take our dessert order, all silky blonde hair, dainty features and skin like rose petals. "Peppermint tea, please", I said, factoring in the fact it was nearly midnight and I didn't want caffeine jitters. "What about you, sir?" asked the angel-like apparition, twinkling coquettishly at Mr PBBB.."an Irish Coffee?" Long pause, possibly a twitch. "Hmm, yes I think I will", he declared, trying to look as though it was a really really good idea - one that he wished he'd had, in fact.
Once she'd gone to grind the coffee beans and start churning, I laughed so much I think I may have let out a little wee. "IRISH COFFEE?" I hooted. "Coffee and lots of cream?? Since when?" Apparently I think I'll find that sometimes he DOES have coffee and actually, cream is, um, you know, nice in, um Irish coffee because of the WHISKY, so there was no need for me to Go On About It.
Miss World came back and set up her tray just round the partition behind Mr PBBB's seat. First round the partition was my peppermint tea. Then came the bowl of thickly whipped cream. "Ooh look, your favourite," I beamed at him. Then came the coffee. "And your second favourite". Then came a bottle of Jamesons. "How much whisky would you like?" the elfen beauty pouted. "A little one or a man sized one?"
One whole month without alcohol, sugar, caffeine, wheat, dairy and red meat and the January detox is properly over. However it did what it set out to do: I'm nearly a stone lighter and, more importantly, have proved to myself that yes, if I squint, I do have an inner core of steel and thus am not permanently a molten jelly of giving-in-ness when it comes to rich food and the demon booze.
But what the hell, look at these babies: Chocolate Whisky and Beer Cupcakes. I fell in love with the Guinness cupcakes at delicious cake-emporium Konditor & Cook (mercifully only a short stagger from the Rake in Borough Market), and have even been known to make one last for a whole weekend, with judicious use of a cake knife, an alarm clock and a small plate. If these are half as good as the recipe promises, I'll be very pleased indeed, and Mr PBBB's shelf of dark beers in the cellar will come in very handy, thank you very much for asking.
My mission to unearth the alternative benefits of beer continues - it's not all barging around shouting about hops and sticking it in old sherry casks, you know.
Now I'm off to find a vicar to invite for tea. Must be one in North London somewhere.