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eG Foodblog: John Whiting


John Whiting
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Denouement

Since my 70th birthday, the living room centerpiece each year has been the lighthouse that Mary had secretly constructed for the occasion by model-maker Kath Dalmeny . It’s full of symbolism, the details of which would put even a Freudian to sleep.

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The tomatade on toast quickly disappears; I’ve barely time to photograph the first plate.

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The half-dozen guests include some of my closest associates: composer James Wood, sound engineer Mike Skeet and international author/producer/gadfly Warren Leming.

Here we are, helping ourselves to the rémoulade.

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Come on, Mike, cheer up!

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Warren, delayed by London Transport, makes up for it by reading a birthday poem he’d written for me on the slow train.

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Finally, the moment of truth.

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It’s too dark, crusty and thick for some tastes, but it’s the way I like it. All that collagen in the pigs’ feet makes it stick densely together. With only a kilo of dried beans to almost five kilos of meat, Atkins Diet followers—if there are any left—could call it hi-fat, lo-carb!

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It’s accompanied by the sacred Bandol:

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Next, Mary’s architectural triumph, the terrine des fruits

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…followed by the cake, a stormy sea surmounted by a lighthouse. (Having grown up in Provincetown, my early sensory memories are of lighthouses and foghorns.)

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It’s a rich white Christmas cake full of candied fruits and nuts, similar to one my mother used to make, but this recipe came to Mary’s mother via a GI billeted in their road in Grimsby during WWII.

Finally, the desolation of a deserted battlefield.

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Roll on 2007!

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Do you know Kees Elfring's restaurant, Maurius, fifty meters or so from the Zoutkeetsgracht terminus of the number 3 tramline?

Wow, you really know your Amsterdam.. :smile:

I've never been to Marius, but I've heard about it and read really good reviews on the Dutch restaurants sites. It's a table d'hote style of restaurant I think? Have you been there?

edited to add: What an impressive dinner. The cassoulet looks delicious...

And I count 3 different lighthouses in the pictures. They must really mean a lot to you!

Edited by Chufi (log)
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What a fabulous birthday dinner. May you have many more. Would Mary allow you to discuss the construction of her Terrine des Fruits? It looks like a refreshing antidote to a very filling meal.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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Denouement

What a magnificent birthday feast, made all the richer by first and over the course of days following your perambulations around London to source your ingredients - and at the same time your efforts to eat for Britain - followed by descriptions and images of your detailed and precise preparations. This is surely great cooking, void of all pretention, complex and multi-layered, a bubbling pot of comfort, shared with Mary and your closest friends. If life is a moveable feast, then you have truly shared a delicious slice of yours with all of us, wherever in the world we may happen to be located. I truly felt that I was around the table with you and Mary. Bravissimi to you both!

Marc

PS How was that magnificent Bandol?

PPS Do tell us more about the lighthouse.

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Friends -

I don't know when this blog will be locked, but before it happens, I want to thank you all for your generous response. Nothing stimulates the adrenaline like the constant feedback of a knowledgable and enthusiastic audience! It made the simultaneous cooking and writing a joy rather than a chore.

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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... a bubbling pot of comfort, shared with Mary and your closest friends.

And if you, Marco, had been closer than Devon, you would have been among them!

EDIT: The Bandol was smooth and mellow beyond description--or at least beyond mine. If I consulted the Davis wheel, I could come up with something pretentious. :laugh:

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This little pig went to market,

A gentleman escorted him home.

Took off his vest,

You know the rest…

From Jack's handful of beans sprouts a tome!

Thank you for writing such an entertaining blog!

May your birthday wish come true during the year ahead.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Friends -

I don't know when this blog will be locked, but before it happens, I want to thank you all for your generous response. Nothing stimulates the adrenaline like the constant feedback of a knowledgable and enthusiastic audience! It made the simultaneous cooking and writing a joy rather than a chore.

I lived in Islington for awhile. London is one of my favorite cities. John, merci again for sharing. I feel like I am back in London. I feel as if I was actually with you for yor birthday. :wink:

Your friends have it good!

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Thank you, for sharing not just your cassoulet, but your entire week with us. Happy Birthday.

BTW- what goes on for Mary's birthday? Another cassoulet? I'm wondering if SHE makes some amazing dish and you cover the cake and dessert end. That fruit terrine is beautiful.

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I've never been to Marius, but I've heard about it and read really good reviews on the Dutch restaurants sites. It's a table d'hote style of restaurant I think? Have you been there?...

I count 3 different lighthouses in the pictures. They must really mean a lot to you!

I worked in Amsterdam several times, but not since Kees opened Marius. I know his cooking from Het Pomphuis, the wonderful restaurant he ran in Ede. My info about Marius comes from his old Chez Panisse friend, Charles Shere.

From my early childhood on Cape Cod, lighthouses held a fascination for me. Later, in my more misanthropic moments, lighthouse keeping had a strong appeal, but I had to satisfy myself with a bit of light housekeeping. :rolleyes:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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"By popular demand", Mary has written up the terrine recipe:

Terrine des fruits

I’m delighted to pass on how to make this easy and delicious dish – it’s so useful to have something so juicy and refreshing after a rich main course; and as it’s all fruit, it’s that rare thing, a totally guilt-free dessert!

But it’s really just a fruit jelly. I make mine in a high-sided (i.e. not a low-&-long) 2lb loaf tin, very lightly oiled. I just put in layers of a few thinly sliced, different coloured fruits, such as kiwi fruit, pink melon, raspberries, banana (each cut into 3 long strips), peach, papaya and always a final layer of segmented navel oranges. I put kiwi fruit on the bottom so there’s a good strong colour on the top when it’s turned out – and also because kiwi (like fresh pineapple) contains an enzyme that would stop the gelatine working. In summer, I sometimes scatter a few redcurrants here and there between the layers. It’s important the fruit is really ripe so you can cut slices without demolishing the whole caboodle.

I make up an orange jelly with half a pint of juice and a sachet of gelatine powder, the amount which the packet says will set one pint (20 fl oz) of juice. I just pour the gelatine-juice over the fruit and leave it to set.

The coulis is a purée of 1-2 mangos and sieved passion fruit juice plus the juice saved from segmenting the oranges. I pour it round the turned-out terrine, so the bright amber colour can set it off well. I wrote the recipe up in ‘Entertaining single-handed’, now out of print.  Do try it, anyway – it’s luscious, and you do tend to get a few oohs and aahs when you bring it in!

Mary Whiting

EDIT: Mary's the real cook in our house. She's written six food books--and she bakes! :biggrin:

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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"By popular demand", Mary has written up the terrine recipe:
Terrine des fruits

I’m delighted to pass on how to make this easy and delicious dish – it’s so useful to have something so juicy and refreshing after a rich main course; and as it’s all fruit, it’s that rare thing, a totally guilt-free dessert!

But it’s really just a fruit jelly.

Mary Whiting

Thank you so much! I can't wait to try this. But anything that beautiful isn't "just" a fruit jelly.

I also made your tomatade recipe. Wonderful! (I have to start with the simple recipes and work my way up to Cassoulet.)

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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I had no intention of moving in that direction from the game you play with children's toes, but I was intrigued by the poem we didn't get a chance to hear.

Cassoulet final assembly

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"Ducky Fat, Ducky Fat, where did you stray?"

"I've been to London to make cassoulet!"

Nursery rhyme just didn't seem worthwhile....

On a more serious note, this really has been fun to turn to throughout the week, and inspirational too. I need the right pot before attempting your beloved dish. My stepmother claims to have been born on the wrong side of the Thames. A part of her is still very much a Londoner, so I am sending her the link to your blog. I know she'll get a real kick out of seeing how magnificent your markets are.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I need the right pot before attempting your beloved dish. 

As I mentioned somewhere above in the midst of all that verbiage, an old-fashioned wide-mouthed pottery mixing bowl is almost exactly the same shape as an authentic cassole. I used one for making a cassoulet with local ingredients in the north of Scotland.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This has been a treat. I've been doggedly trying to turn my first cassoulet cookery into an essay, but haven't gotten far. Your good writing makes me think perhaps I'd better use it to line the birdcage. Thank you, Mr. Whiting, for letting me accompany you through the week.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

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"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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That cassoulet looks awesome! ...As was the entire blog. Thank you for the recipe for the fruit terrine. It's a beauty, too. As much as I enjoyed the photos of all your wonderful shopping places, your last dinner put the icing on the birthday cake for this blog! ...Sorry, terrible pun intended. Many thanks to you and yours.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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