Brownies was the last time I was a member of any sort of club.
I only had one of their triangular badges proudly sewn onto my brown sleeve, with a yellow cup and saucer on it.
It was the one for making tea.
The bar was set extremely low for the eight-year-olds at the assessment, which I remember very vividly. I’m sure every Brownie who managed to make a cuppa without pouring boiling water over their own foot or their victim’s dog, or forgetting to add the tea bag, managed to pass.
Since then, many have complained about my tea-making ability. Too insipid and weak is the main grumble.
(It takes three minutes to brew a tea properly, too long for a busy young executive like me).
Since those woggle days, I managed to dodge Girl Guides and have avoided most clubs, especially anything that involves a direct debit.
However, I did think about joining Achray House’s new Haste Ye Back dining venture, though I didn’t think I could slip a monthly charge past expenses.
It offers a choice of two subscriptions, with dishes created by Lochview Restaurant at Achray House’s chef patron, Ryan McCutcheon, who has experience at various top notch restaurants, including those at five-star hotels Gleneagles, Cromlix and Greywalls.
The options that come out of this two AA rosette kitchen include Create @ Home, which is £69.99 per month for one three course meal every four weeks, and involves you doing 25 per cent of the work. It’s more expensive, since you get instructions and gadgetry, including a “sous vide wand”, which presumably Harry Potter used to vacuum pack his enemies.
There’s also a Gourmet Kids’ version, £5, for precocious small people
Or, grown ups can also do Finish @ Home, £24.99 a month for three courses for one. It suits lazy slobs like me, since there’s only 5 per cent of the work remaining, and it can also be ordered as a one off purchase for £35 per person.
I went for this, and it was delivered on a Thursday, though they recommend consuming it within three days.
We might have saved it for the weekend, but our packed fridge is like a doss house for half empty containers. It’s one in, one out at the moment, just like at a pandemic supermarket.
The first course - wild garlic veloute - just needed some heating up, and it came with crispy feta. These cheesy bricks were warmed in the oven, and added a salty and feral tang to our huge portions of ultra garlicky and earthy soup, which was as green and smooth as Kermit after a terrible Nutribullet accident.
Our main course of lamb navarin was equally homely and suitable for an April cold snap. Never cast a clout, and don’t give up on stews yet either.
It featured plenty of meaty gobbets and bits of carrot in a salty rich gravy. There was enough for our main course, and lunch the next day.
This came with parmentier potatoes, with each cube saturated in garlicky butter, like sugar cubes soaked in tea. As a nod to good health, there was also some brightly hued broccoli, which had retained its colour and not gone all dull, limp and saggy in transit.
When it came to pudding, we had lots of fun trying to eject our dark chocolate ganache desserts from their Vegware cartons onto our plates.
It was a bit like making sandcastles out of PVA glue.
Eventually we excavated them, with the help of a warm butter knife, nail scissors and some light swearing (“bally” and “crumbs”). We did not decant the ganache with panache.
Anyway, these were super rich and dense (just how I like my men), but there’s no way we could work our way through the entire shebang.
We weren’t that sold on the accompaniments - the salted popcorn was a little chewy and the chunks of sponge a bit of chocolate apocalypse overkill.
I think the upcoming desserts, like the warm banana bread with vanilla creme anglaise and white chocolate panna cotta, look a lot more appealing to me.
Still, the savouries were most excellent, and this is the sort of club that I would haste to subscribe to, and I haste that ye do too.
Definitely better than an Edinburgh Brownie troop circa 1983.
(0749 7044 990, www.hasteyebackdining.co.uk)
How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £70.
Places to Try Nearby
Barley Bree, 6 Willoughby Street, Muthill, Crieff (01764 681 451, www.barleybree.com)
This restaurant with rooms is hoping to re-open on May 7. Their menu features local produce with a Gallic twist, with dishes such as slow cooked venison shoulder Scotch pie, white cabbage and walnut stew.
Craobh, 26 James Square, Crieff (01764 650 762, www.craobhrestaurant.com)
In case you were wondering, you pronounce this bistro’s name kroov and it means tree in Gaelic. It specialises in steaks cooked on its Argentinian grill, as well as small sharing plates, like smoked duck carpaccio and crispy polenta, and cocktails.
Yann’s at Glenearn House, Perth Road, Crieff (01764 650 111, www.yannsatglenearnhouse.com)
Here’s another hotel and restaurant, with this one opening its doors on April 29. Their chef is from the Haute Savoie and the menu also features a lamb navarin, as well as Savoyard specialities such as raclette and pierrade.