- Created: 16 October 2017 16 October 2017
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From the back of the church comes rhythmic clapping and percussion. On screen, Mr and Mrs Bunting, landlord and landlady of a boarding house, go the door. It’s the police, led by Joe, the detective investigating the serial killer called The Avenger. Joe speaks; “We’ve come to have a word with your lodger”. They go upstairs as the tempo picks up and into the lodger’s room. The suspect is kissing Daisy. She is the landlords’ daughter and Joe’s girlfriend.
A baritone voice begins “Oh, you’re gonna lose your soul, tonight”. Joe shows his search warrant. The other detectives search the room. Joe and the lodger square up. The voices of the choir swell. The baritone, “Your gonna lose control tonight”. The police find a hidden bag. The choir sings “I get up in the morning to the beat of the drum. I get up to this feeling, keeps me on the run”. Inside the bag, Joe finds a pistol and a map, showing where The Avenger has struck. The arrest is made.
This is where the Herne Hill Music Festival’s showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger jumped from good to superb. The setting was St Faith’s Church on Red Post Hill, with its brightly painted ceiling and excellent acoustics. Pianist, Ashley Valentine drove the evening but was more than ably supported by the rest of the band and the Camberwell Community Choir. Meanwhile, the print was excellent, with scenes tinted blue, sepia and pink.
The Lodger was made in 1927 and was his first Hitchcockian film. Lots of classic ingredients are there. Daisy is blonde for a start and we have an innocent man suspected of a crime. There’s a MacGuffin in the form of The Avenger and even the protagonist’s mother plays a role. She isn’t perverse in a Strangers on a Train or The Birds way but a brief and wonderfully framed scene between her and the lodger is pivotal.
Ivor Novello is by turns creepy, romantic and tragic as the lodger. There is a remarkable slow, sensual, diffident kiss between him and June Tripp’s Daisy. The emotion is so strong Novello looks almost as if he’ll cry. It was the equal of the extraordinary kiss between Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window.
There are other Hitchcockian flourishes. We look down on a hand sliding along the banister, as the lodger descends the staircase, Mrs Bunting straining to catch his footsteps. The lodger pacing his room is shot through a glass floor. The opening montage follows a murder through to newspaper coverage hitting the streets. Meanwhile the finale recalls the end of the 1925 version of the Phantom of the Opera.
In the queue for the toilet at the interval, a member of the choir told me they had performed the The Lodger a few years ago. If they do it again, I strongly recommend it seeing it.
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Prince Luitpold of Bavaria in London to announce that “beer is for all occasions!” especially weddings!
- Created: 10 October 2017 10 October 2017
- Hits: 492 492
Prince Luitpold of Bavaria has been in London this week extolling the benefits and joys of beer drinking. During a lunch the Prince gave at Royal Windsor Racecourse on Monday we were served a different beer for each course. The pairings were surprisingly better than I expected (being a more wine orientated drinker) but, perhaps given the profiles of the different beers, they are more obvious than we might imagine.
Kaltenberg beer, of which Prince Luitpold is the CEO, is based at one of his castles in Bavaria and he makes no bones about it being “royal beer”. The equations are quite simple: drier blonde beers that have a refreshing mouthfeel are great for dishes like salmon et croute. Darker beers, Dunkel, have a natural affinity with goulash style courses, as well as slow cooked meets, in darker heavier sauces. The rich malty, chocolatey flavours of these Dunkel make them great colder season food partners.
Then, of course, there is the strudel dishes and for this it has be Weissbier. Light and fruity and perfectly refreshing. The two together go hand in hand.
The Prince made other suggestions for food pairings but seemed most keen to emphasise that beer is not just for session drinking:
“We have beer at any occasion as an option. There is no state reception where people are only served Champagne or white wine. You would always have the opportunity to have a beer! The same applies to a wedding or whatever the occasion is.
“Nothing against a decent wine; a good white wine, red wine or Champagne… but it is about giving them a choice. Even at a wedding party we would have people who would prefer a glass of beer to a glass of wine. If this is so then they should have the choice.
“It is a case of social acceptability, not flavour. In many cultures it is socially unacceptable to have a beer at a state reception. It has to be a Champagne. The French did a better marketing job!
“I think it would be totally unacceptable not to have a beer, as an option!”
Perhaps having a brewery in one’s own castle makes it easier to ensure that beer is always on the menu at state receptions. The Queen of England now has her own vineyards on palace land producing sparkling Champagne equivalent bubbly, and is also very publicly serving English sparkling wine at state events. Could it be a while before Her royal hops become a staple offering for visiting dignitaries?
Even in this respect the Queen is quite avant garde. When we consulted one of the UK’s most prestigious wedding planners, he said “For our clients it has to be one of the top Champagne houses. Maybe a beer later in the evening but not before or during the dinner.” And for English wine: “Hm, our sommeliers tell us that people aren’t asking for it yet. If it is good then people will eventually ask for it.”
The Kaltenberg beers tasted:
Kaltenberg Royal lager is, as the Prince says, the perfect aperitif. I had a glass on arrival and found it very refreshing. Plenty of the essential "one more glass syndrome" going on there!
It also paired very well with the salmon et croute. A light uncomplicated dish with a refreshing thirst quenching beer. Very good indeed.
König Ludwig Dunkel (5.1%) - richer and round in the mouth with full malty, slightly chocolately flavour. A thicker mouth filling texture that means it stays the course with roasted or stewed meats in sauces and gravies. A great match and one I hope to be repeating over the oncoming darker months! Very enjoyable.
König Ludwig Weissbier Hell (5.5%) - I am not sure why this has the word "Hell" attached to it. Good marketing for the devil? Contrary to the dark and firey pits of Lucipher's domain, this full flavoured weissbier packs plenty of citrus fruit that make the drinker say "Ummm".
A real mouth cleanswer that works very well after the maincourse with the strudel, leaving the palate clean and wet and wanting for another glass. In fact, that is exactly what I did.
I enjoyed the König Ludwig Weissbier very much.
Interview with Prince Luitpold of Bavaria filmed at Royal Windsor Racecourse by Nick BreezeAdd a comment
- Created: 03 October 2017 03 October 2017
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My walk to work takes me through Brockwell Park. This morning was one of those cold, crisp mornings. The leaves are a lovely mix of green, gold and red. My wandering mind stopped lighted on sloe gin. This rich and warming drink is very easy to make, with has just three ingredients; gin, sloes and sugar. Opinion about the proportions varies and I guess there are family recipes aplenty. This is our one:
First, sterilise a bottle with boiling water. I used a 750 ml, screw cap wine bottle. Just over half fill it with sloes. The standard advice is to pick the sloes after the first frost, though they are usually ripe before then. They certainly are this year. We went for a walk in Epping Forest a week ago and I have never seen such quantities of sloes. Blackthorn after blackthorn was laden with large and luscious berries. To simulate the frost, just put the sloes in the freezer for a night. The other received wisdom is to prick them before putting them in the bottle. I find it quicker to just give them a squeeze or scratch to break the skin.
The next step is to pour in a good slug of sugar. A “good slug” is a bit of a Jamie Oliver term, so I should quantify it – about 200g. If you want to, then you can always add a bit more sugar later in the process. I used caster sugar, though I’ve sometimes thought about using brown sugar. Either way, granules are easier to pour through a funnel than soft sugar.
Now you can add the third ingredient, the gin. I topped up the bottle and then gave it a gentle swirl to dislodge air pockets. Repeating this, I was able to fit in 35cl. Which gin to choose? Well, clearly there is no point in using an expensive craft gin. You shouldn’t use a crap one either. My rule is that if I wouldn’t drink it with tonic, I should drink it with sugar and sloes either. In Dickson, a local off licence, I asked whether Grosvenor was any good and was answered with a negative shrug. Instead I paid an extra quid and bought a half bottle of reliable Gordon’s London Dry.
Give the bottle a little, gentle shaking and put it in a cupboard. It should stay there for about three months, getting the odd shake along the way. If you have room, it’s probably best to lie the bottle down but it will work whether you do or not. At the end of three months, decant it into another, sterilised bottle and then put it out of temptation’s way for a year or preferably two or three.
The trick is to have a stash of several years’ worth, so that each winter you replace the bottle (or bottles of course) you drink with a new one. Your initial abstinence will be rewarded. Sloe gin does benefit from time spent in the bottle.
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- Created: 10 September 2017 10 September 2017
- Hits: 193 193
We at InDulwich tend to do things at our own pace and if we are on trend it is more by accident than design. I did remember an article in the Guardian declaring edible flowers to be the “summer’s hottest food trend” but it was returning from a summer holiday to discover that nasturtiums had taken over the garden that stirred me to action. They and strawberries had been battling for garden supremacy, snaking across the patio, enveloping a bench and surrounding pots. The strawberries had put up a valiant fight but the vibrant flowers and lily pad leaves of the nasturtiums had been victorious. I knew the flowers were edible but a friend remarked that the leaves were too and the die was cast. It was time to fight back and in fashionable style.
Our nasturtium flowers are a bright yellow with smudges on red on the inside, though the odd one is an exciting red or orange. The taste offers a soft but still pronounced sweetness, followed by an unexpectedly hot pepperiness, with a wrap of something that tells you it’s a flower. The leaves are a little less sweet but still pack a decent pepper punch.
I take a packed lunch to the office, usually including a salad made with whatever is in the fridge. The one in the picture is golden beetroot (a current favourite), yellow pepper, cucumber and nasturtium flowers and leaves.
I pick a few flowers and leaves each morning but there is so much new growth, that I haven’t made much of a dent in the nasturtium tide. The flowers look too lovely to do anything with but pop them in my mouth but what more could I do with the leaves?
The obvious thing was to try them as a spinach substitute, just steamed. This was not a great success and yielded a couple of surprises. The first was the strong smell, as the oils are released. Apart from a slightly unpleasant aroma hanging around the kitchen for a while, that wasn’t important. The other surprise concerned the flavour. Sweet and peppery had turned to bitter. I‘m not averse to a bitter edge to flavours but this reminded me of a hideously bitter tea substitute I’d bought in communist-era Poland. The nasturtium leaves weren’t as strong as that but they did make a poor spinach replacement.
For a second experiment, I fried some onion and garlic and then threw in the leaves. I decided to cook them for a little longer than the faux-spinach, so put in a little liquid – just water – and covered the pan. This was much better. The sweetness of the onion offset the bitterness, which seemed less anyway, presumably from cooking them longer.
A photographer friend once told me that food is the hardest thing to photograph, so apologies of my effort isn’t up to scratch. Anyway, nasturtiums are the gift that keeps on going and I’ll be munching on them for a while yet. If anyone has any suggestions of other ways to cook the leaves, I’d love to hear them.Add a comment
- Created: 05 September 2017 05 September 2017
- Hits: 505 505
There is Montepulicano d’Abruzzo wine everywhere in London but how do you sort the truly remarkable from the truly ordinary? Well, it is all in the taste, and considering that I have visited this winery, tasted their wines and enjoyed them emphatically, here is a very decent tip:
Cantina Zaccagnini, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo - a rich full bodied red wine with smooth silk tannin, cherry, spice and a hint of chocolate. Perfect for a whole range of dishes especially roasted foods but equally pleasant with lighter dishes or with cheese.Add a comment
- Created: 17 August 2017 17 August 2017
- Hits: 741 741
When the new version of Beauty and the Beast was released, an Icelandic woman sent a message via Facebook to her daughter asking if she would like to see it. Realising she had directed it to the Finance Minister by mistake, she sent a quick retraction. ‘Oh well, I’ll see it later’ came the reply.
- Created: 18 July 2017 18 July 2017
- Hits: 1969 1969
We once spent a weekend in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It rained steadily and heavily. We had a room in a cheap B&B. We had an energetic five year old with us. A lull gave us half an hour on the beach but the rest of the time was miserable. We divided it between some mediocre cafes and an arcade where our kid played air hockey (fun at least) and had her first taste of a shoot ‘em up video game (hmm....). We dived into a cinema that was showing Top Cat: The Movie. It was desperately awful, even our daughter thought so.Add a comment
- Created: 06 July 2017 06 July 2017
- Hits: 589 589
Walking around the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate Modern there is an unmistakeable intensity in the air. It’s always been there since our first encounter in the sculpture garden of The Maeght Foundation, Saint-Paul de Vence in the South of France. Giacometti achieves something in his creations many other sculptors can only dream of; he imbues them with the fiction of life. The sensation of presence lasting only a split second, a first glance, emanates from the work in front of you. Add a comment
- Created: 19 June 2017 19 June 2017
- Hits: 436 436
There is something about oppressive hear, when the air thickens and the sunlight bears down like a thing with mass. Movement slows and becomes more deliberate. Hurry is pointless.Add a comment
- Created: 19 May 2017 19 May 2017
- Hits: 993 993
It’s a sultry summer night, 23 July 1977. After much pleading, the thirteen year old me is allowed to stay up for the first half of BBC2’s double bill of horror. The film is Son of Frankenstein and I am sucked in by the heavy gothic atmosphere, the weird, expressionistic sets and lighting, the haunting music played by Bela Lugosi’s Ygor and finally, Boris Karloff’s monster.Add a comment
- Created: 12 May 2017 12 May 2017
- Hits: 667 667
The Cultural Revolution was a particularly brutal period in Chinese history. In 1966, Chairman Mao unleashed a torrent of violence and ignorance that aimed to purge the country of revisionists, the bourgeois, the traditional and the capitalist.Add a comment
- Created: 09 May 2017 09 May 2017
- Hits: 2373 2373
Having lived in West Dulwich for the last 3 years, I have become aware that is a bit of a desert when it comes to dining out locally. While other places like Herne Hill seem to have an ever growing choice of eateries and drinkeries, West Dulwich has Cafe Rouge and the god awful pub-come-wedding venue, the Rosendale. Add a comment
- Created: 05 May 2017 05 May 2017
- Hits: 899 899
Yesterday would have been Margo Durrell's birthday. There was always a little bit of confusion about her age because she used to chisel off a year here and there. She died in 2007 at an agreed age of 87. So to commemorate her 97th birthday I have written this short piece. Add a comment