Sometimes, there is no plan. Nor dinner. Sometimes, even the most foodie-est of us forgo a meal in favour of a glass of wine, a bit of company, and maybe a bowl of fruit. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been a foodie since before foodie became a common description for someone like me. Until recently, missing a meal – any meal – was anathema.

Our most recent ‘meh’ night was triggered by the failure of our refrigerator. A devastating loss for yours truly. That said, the shopping had gone wanting, leaving me without too much in her (yes ‘She’ like a ship) to rescue. The local greengrocer had the first strawberries of the season, fresh from Queensland at a decent price. Good thing I splurged and bought three 250-gram punnets!

Of course, no chilled white wine miraculously appeared in the failed fridge. Luckily, the red wine in the rack matched delightfully with the red of the berries. Combined with the bar of chocolate taken from my baking barrel which stays in the cupboard – full – we were sorted.

The dinner plan, foiled as it was, continued unfolding organically. We moved to the balcony to sip, nibble, chat and watch the birds swoop and the leaves continue to trickle off the Japanese elm out front, the unusual afternoon warmth offering a reminder that winter wasn’t finished with us yet.

Suddenly, a knock on the door. Seriously can you believe this – a neighbour looking for a handful of mint. She knew, and here’s hoping you’d have worked it out by now, that I would have a variety of herbs growing on the very balcony we were sitting on.

She followed me out, noticed our relaxed ambience and looked a bit longingly at our dinner plan for that night. How much convincing did it take to get her to have a seat, you may be wondering? Not much. In fact, one simple question was all it took. “Can we pour you a glass of wine?”

Before long, another knock on the door. “Do you guys have my wife over here?” No need to ask this time. I grabbed another glass and away we went. Dinner without a plan for two became dinner without a plan for four.

The bottle soon ran dry, so the four of us trooped across the hall in search of more libations, a different outlook, and a few salty nibbles to round out the meal.

The sun began to set, the sky to the west showing off its beauty in shades of red and orange, so the movable feast settled indoors. Like all good Aussies can, K- reached into her pantry for a bowl of cashews, dried fruit and a few savoury biscuits. Then from the fridge – hers working quite well, thank you very much – a few chunks of cheese. Excellent companions to the nuts and fruit. (The mint was long ago forgotten.)

We, human companions, lingered over another bottle of wine, nibbling and chatting languidly while the reddish hues of the sinking sun gave way to the deep purple of a night sky. As the glasses ran dry, our hearts were sated, as were our bellies.

Have you ever dreamed about a dinner, planned to perfection, with extreme hunger and passion only to be disappointed in the reality? Yes, so have I. Then a night like this ‘happens’ and those disappointments fade into the background. Perfection doesn’t always need meticulous planning.

The moral of this little missive? Keep a few fallbacks in the fridge and pantry, and an extra bottle of red in the rack. You never know when the fridge will fail, and you’ll need to make some ad hoc adjustments.

Look at a dinner plan with a good degree of flexibility. You have heard it said, I’m sure. The best-laid plans…

Epilogue: a new fridge has been procured and filled. Oh boy have I got plans!