Winter is not coming. Winter is already here. So no GoT opening line. Rather a dull weather forecast of rain, grey skies and falling temperatures. Except in my kitchen. There it is bright and hot.
The pleasures of winter are many. Boots, scarves, gloves. The first open fires, faux-fur throws casually draped over couches and armchairs. Hot chocolate, deep red burgundy, and steaming hot food.
Winter food equals comfort food and the ultimate comfort food has to be a stew.
Stews are an acquired taste. Each country, each region has its own, unique variety, yet most stews boil down to the same principle (pardon the pun) of meat, wine or beer, stock, root vegetables and strong flavored condiments be it mustard, cloves, juniper berries or bay leaves. Just visualize. Venison in red wine jus. Beer braised beef with mustard and gingerbread. Lamb shanks with chestnuts.
Not so new on the block but enjoying a clear revival (the pun is being completed) is broth with as forerunner the good old bone broth.
For my own version of bb, I blanch, roast and boil with minimum interference of carrots, celery stalks, garlic, onions and peppercorns. I use my XL witches’ cauldron, my finest cheesecloth and I have devised a state of the art cooling method that involves ice and transvasing (decant?).
There is nothing like a bowl of bb under a faux-fur, the open fire roaring and your TV switched on to your favourite program.
This year TV is at its best once more with a remarkable offer of royal grandeur and jewelry (get it?), and, not in the least, the holiest of holiest, the Vatican.
The Pope has indeed made his youthful TV debut with Jude Law as Sorrentino’s Young Pope.
I love the young Pope for all his mischief, his secrets, his sharp humour. I love Sorrentino for his scandalously daring Catholic revival ideas.
Now picture this. A phone call, a friend who wishes to introduce his new partner. A weekend together. At ours. The new partner’s name is _____
‘Oh, and by the way. _____ is vegan.’
I do not care about what others put in their mouths. And it is good to break your routine. Switch off the TV. Go on a culinary adventure.
‘Pasta,’ my better half says when I tell him.
Does not pasta contain eggs?
‘Gluten free?’ he tried.
It was time to Google.
We had a great weekend. _____ was charming. And there is such a thing as a vegan stew. It contains vegetables. Plenty of vegetables. Excellent flavors. Rosemary. Rich.
But, truth be told, it lacks that ‘je ne sais quoi’.
Our friend and _____ left. They make a gorgeous couple. I waved them off. Heated up a bowl of bb. Crawled under my faux-fur. Switched on the TV.