Last August, when the profit burglar and I visited The Dragon Castle we dined Cantonese style, leaving Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang on our to-do list of the "Eight Great Traditions" of Chinese cuisine.
This week, we visited Hunan in Pimlico; an establishment - like the Sappho Meze Bar - that does not have a menu. On arrival we were issued with spicy peanuts, pickled cucumber and the wine list, then Mr Peng the proprietor came over for a chat about our likes and dislikes and decided what we were going to have. Nothing as vulgar as money would be mentioned until we got the bill.
I remember that we started with soup from little wooden bamboo barrels but after that details escape me as we were served with dish after dish. It was all delicious. I particularly remember pig's ears and frog's legs but only because they were unexpected ingredients. Mr Peng - definitely the governor - paid close attention to our reactions to each dish, coming over occasionally to demand that we spooned more suace from the serving dish over our plates etc. I can see how that might irritate some, but I was more than happy playing aspirant to his adept. It is a long way from Matthew Polly "eating bitter" in Hunan's Shaolin monastery.
A great meal consisting of about twenty delicate courses and unencumbered by any rice or noodles. Six more Chinese styles to go.