28 Dec December Happenings
A friend sits in a London café on a Saturday morning in December. She watches as a father and youngish son settle into their chairs. The father sips an Americano, son a frothy hot chocolate. The father opens the Times.
“Would you like a bit of the paper?” asks the father. “Yes daddy. I’d like the bit with Heston. Let’s see what he’s cooking this week. “
Heston Blumenthal is the food writer for the London Times. He’s also the King of molecular gastronomy in the UK, acclaimed chef, recipe developer for Waitrose (fine grocers) cookbook author and owner-operator of the Fat Duck in Bray. I’ve never been; it’s impossible to get a reservation. But who needs one now? I, and apparently seven year old boys all over the world, can pick up the Times on Saturdays and bring Heston directly into our kitchens.
Heston has caused quite a stir lately. His Christmas pudding for Waitrose, complete with a whole orange nestled within, sold out immediately. Within days the puddings were being sold on ebay for £250. Heston says he doesn’t even like Christmas pudding.
But he does like chocolate. While in London recently, I found a unique chocolate tart recipe of his in the Times magazine. It’s basic shortcrust pastry on the bottom, chocolate ganache in the middle, but on top, things start to get interesting. He tosses popping candy with melted chocolate, lets it harden, then sprinkles it over to the top (with some optional gold leaf). A chocolate explosion every time to you take a bite. I’m going to try it for New Years Eve. I, and that seven year old boy, no doubt.
Family hike in the Acadian forest, an old growth forest along the banks of the St. Mary’s River. We walked under maple, oak, and beech trees, past alders, stepped through spongy meadows, crossed streams and crunched acorns.Hardly a coniferous in sight. The area has always been a hot spot for fly fishermen. Babe Ruth fished these banks back in the 30’s. I think we found his sardine tin.
Chickadee’s are tame. They’ll eat from your hand if you stand very still. Their tiny claws feel like curly toothpicks on the skin. My father calls it minuscule spandex over bone. They perch, grab a sunflower seed, shell and all, then flit away.