“…possets and comfits and caraways and lullabies and toys…”

So, back in Canadia, eh?

How’s it feel? Boring. I mean, I when I order train tickets, I won’t get a drop-down menu like this on this side of the pond:

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The low after the adventure is always tough, which is why adventurers, once they’ve tasted the excitement of moving around and meeting new people and not knowing where they will be sleeping, continue on, moaning when faced with the reality of having to get a job and an apartment and do laundry instead of wandering the streets clutching a coffee and  checking out what happened the night before.IMG_3221

As my apartment is still being fully appreciated by my dear friend C, I am crashing at the parents abode in suburbia before venturing on to the West for the summer.

How’s the job situation looking? DIRE. I’m stressed. I hate not working. I’ve only had a handful of weeks in the past ten years when I haven’t had a job, but always had a job lined up. This is not my cup of tea.

So of course, aside from freaking out a lot, all I can think about is what I COULD be doing, if I had a job.

I learned a bit about English food, I’ll admit. I tried to experience enough of their culinary scene as I could given the circumstances. That often involved taking risks later regretted, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m happy with my decisions.

The Canadian and I were having dinner with our Head Chef the night before he left at the “rival” brasserie in the amazing Plymouth Gin Distillery. The food there is always so-so to good, the service nothing to bark about, but their desserts, though simple and often a bit weird, have always been extremely satisfactory. IMG_1410

That night they had…Lemon Posset. Lemon posset is, essentially, a sweetened cream thickened with the acid in lemon juice. When I first read a recipe for posset (without having seen or eaten it) I gagged a bit. Cheese making is the only area where the idea of curdling cream with an acid doesn’t revolt me. Every time posset came up over the first 8 months of my stay, I wanted to throw up.

So, as is the way things tend to go, I strongly suggested he order the posset and I the creme brulee, since the brulee seemed like a safe bet, but I really wanted to try the posset. He agreed, gave me a bite, I fell in love, and frowned at my overbaked brulee while he gleefully finished the posset. I deserved that.

I put it on the menu a couple months later, but did the lime version I’ve posted here. I had to use up the pistachio biscotti in the freezer left over from Valentine’s day, so I tried a different method of drying it because thin flat biscotti bores me. I served it with homemade limonoceiello granita, sea salt, and pistachios. I would have liked to sprinkle with black sesame, but we didn’t have any.

But there’s more. I did some research into Possets and tried out a more traditional recipe. It used to be a warm, boozy drink akin to Egg Nog, but it tended to separate, the booze on the bottom, then the custard, then the foam, so it was served in a special pot that was just like a tea pot but with handles on either side. You drank the booze from the spout, then ate the rest with a spoon. And obviously, they fed this to children to get them to sleep.

I googled this recipe then proceeded to fuck it up? Yessss…..

Traditional Posset

400ml cream (I’d say half milk, half cream or 18%, this turned out too fatty it broke)

60g Brown sugar

100ml Sherry

18ml Brandy

Pinch Cinnamon

Pinch Nutmeg

3 egg yolks

Alright, so I didn’t have Sherry, or Cider which is often used to replace sherry, nor did I have ale or a dry white wine from the Canary Islands (to make a proper Sack Posset), so perhaps I just used all brandy and added a teensy bit of apple cider vinegar to provide the acid to coagulate everything.

You heat the yolks, booze, and spiced on the stove (I did this in a water bath because I didn’t trust doing it in a sauce pan), and bring the cream and sugar to a boil. IMG_3252

Pour the sugar over the eggs from a great height to cause the two to mix well and froth. Let set for 2-3 min before drinking. I have it here pictured in two vessels, a wine glass and a mug designed to protect a man’s moustache when he drinks tea. It seemed like a good alternative. The verdict?IMG_3253

Riiiiiiiight. Maybe I didn’t hold it high enough? Maybe the cream should have cooled a touch before frolicking with the eggs? I don’t know, but both parts were smooth and creamy before they got together, now they are just a boozy, lumpy mess. I will say though, that for the times, I could see this being very popular. IMG_3085

My Tastier, Smoother Lime Posset (I think I adapted this from either Roux or White, can’t remember) – makes 4-6 depending on the serving dish

I used creme brulee ramekins to serve this.

4 limes, zest and juice

175g Sugar

350ml Cream

.5 gelatine leaf (bloomed — this is not necessary if you have double cream, but it’s not common in Canada so the gelatine will help thicken it without taking the time to reduce it)

Heat the cream and sugar to a boil, add lime juice and zest and continue to simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add gelatine, whisk well, then pass through a sieve. Skim off any bubbles. Pour carefully into serving dishes and chill for 3 hours. Serve cold. IMG_3099

LOOK HOW SMOOTH IT IS. This stuff is like crack, no joke. IMG_3092 IMG_3082

Personally, I would have maybe like a raspberry granita, but that suggestion was shot down.  This is awesomely simple and refreshing on it’s own, but could be dressed up with a mango-ginger granita, or raspberries, coconut sorbet with caramelized pineapple and a paper umbrella, an alternative lemon tart, a more natural key-lime pie…..

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I’d rather be moving than sitting still.

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After 4 hours of sitting on a fold-down seat on the train with this glorious view, I pulled the 90lbs of luggage from the train to the station interior, my arms feeling the weight of the oversized suitcase after only 150 yards, my jaw dropped in horror when the bank machine mocked:

The Amount you may withdraw:

NIL

Nil? Is this real? I’m not halfway home, I am again homeless and jobless, and I have nil monies?

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I sat in Paddington Station by the cute bronze bear and wept (as gracefully as possible, I assure you). Children stared. It was awkward. If only I could earn ₤1 every time I cried in public, this wouldn’t be happening.

This probably also wouldn’t be happening had I not accidentally shipped my Canadian debit card to Calgary. Clearly I am the mastermind of my own destruction.

Let’s go back. Plymouth is no longer my home. Or rather where I reside, it was never truly my home. What seemed like a good move as far as my CV goes, a good move to become more healthy and less nutrient deficient, to see the South West of England, and to save money…

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Turned out to be embarrassing for my CV, caused me to start drinking daily and consume chips instead of food, allowed me no such South West pleasantries (like eating ice cream in february by the sea) beyond the steps where all those English ancestors got the fuck out of this place, and cost me more money and emotional trauma (they did, after all, almost kill us in a blaze of pork belly) than I could afford. In that city genetically altered by sailors, a portion of my love for the food industry died.*

Upon my escape, which I planned well for everyone involved, giving my full notice and trying to set the place so they wouldn’t be left in the shit, I was not paid by my employer** which is funny considering the commis who walked out of the job were paid on time which is why I don’t see them sitting in Paddington station running their makeup.

Though I’d stopped smoking, without thinking I spent my last ₤5 on rolling tobacco.

I scrape my way to Heathrow (my Visa card apparently chooses when it feels like working), and choke down a Chorizo burger from Leon, which turns out to literally be chorizo slashed open and painfully grilled, then mashed into a bun with three sprigs of roquette lettuce. Oh Leon, I will miss your successful marketing but not your unsuccessful food.

My phone credit dwindles to less than ₤1 and my mother and I exchange a dialogue that ends with her telling me to get my ass to the Western Union. This transaction allows me to check my bag, which at this stage feels more like a dead body.

Just as it is being sucked into the scanner I remember:

“Oh! It’s full of knives!”

I blurt out seconds after the man at the counter sees all the knives come up on the screen. His eyes widen and his jaw falls agape.  “Yes, it is!” Brows furrow. “What’s that block at the bottom of the bag?”

“Sharpening stones probably.”

Latex gloves snap into place. “Show me.”

As I open the monstrous case, underpants fly everywhere. Of course. I pull out the stones, which are wrapped in stollen tea towels.

“Nope, square.”

I proceed to pull out various squareish objects that could potentially cause a problem. Headshakes.

Finally, I pull out some antique jelly moulds. Question mark. They are metal, and pink. Bingo.

Never did I expect, with a bag full of knives and dead electronic devices, that pink jelly moulds would trip the scanner.

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London, we’ll have to kiss and make-up some other time. In the mean time, stay classy.

Oh, and here (finally, I’ve been meaning to put this up but been too lazy) is my solution for Britons on Sunday afternoon when you’ve found yourselves with a basket of leftover Yorkshire Puddings:

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As per the Canadian Beaver Tail tradition, you simply fry them in oil at 180 for 30 seconds, toss them in a mix of cinnamon and caster sugar, give them a squeeze of lemon juice and consume. Or dress them up like I have and fill them with apples cooked in cider and finish with cider reduction. They taste just like a doughnut (as this happens to any baked product you fry).

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* Okay, not dead. Comatose. But she’s coming out of it.

** They cleverly paid me after I’d left the country. Cheers, mate.