In week 3 of the royal food and feasting MOOC, I have made my first genuinely amazing discovery. I do not know how I have not come across this before, as it needs to become a regular thing. Well, not too regular. But on a cold, winter’s night, it should be an option. As a Christmas Eve nightcap, it would be perfect. And it wasn’t too bad on a mild July evening, either. The discovery? Chocolate wine. Except, there wasn’t any wine in it.
Chocolate wine. Chocolate wine!
The drink, coming from Georgian times, consists of port, high-cocoa content chocolate, sugar and a small amount of flour for thickening. Port, and chocolate. Yes, port and chocolate. I’ll give you a moment for that to sink in.
Everything is heated up together until the chocolate has melted into the port and it has thickened into a rich, luxuriously dark liquid. The smell of it cooking is so inviting, you just know that the result is going to be a tantalising taste sensation on your tongue. Pour into a small cup, sit back in your favourite chair, music on, and let yourself relax into the night.
Carried away by how much I was infatuated with this new discovery, or maybe it was the effects of the port, I completely forgot that I should have been taking some photos of this magical creation to share on here. This is something which deserves imagery. I will just have to make it again… (what a shame!) and when I do, I will share the recipe.
Fylettys en galentyne
I also returned to Week 1 to try one of the first recipes in the course: Fylettys en galentyne. This is a meat dish, using leftover roast pork that is slowly cooked into a dark, caramelised onion gravy. It’s a really simple recipe.
Take some leftover roast pork and add to a pan with browned onions, then pour in beef gravy, seasoned with the seemingly staple Tudor spices of cinnamon, mace and black pepper, along with some cloves. Simmer this until the liquid has reduced by half, then add breadcrumbs to thicken it, and some vinegar for a slight tanginess.
The result is… well, it isn’t exactly photogenic. This is definitely function over fashion. Rustic cooking. For a King? It isn’t what I would picture being on Henry VII’s dining table. But it has it’s merits: it uses up leftover roast meat, and it is a warm, filling stew that would fend off the winter chills.
In terms of taste, it is a strange one. Initially, I really enjoyed it. It was meaty, and hearty, and comforting. I served it with some very un-Tudory sweet potato mash and it was a pleasant meal. Or it started off pleasantly. But in a similar way to the ryschewys close and fryez I made previously, the more I ate, the harder it became to continue. I think it is something about the blend of spices that was in both: mace, cinnamon and the black pepper that I fell out with so much last week. In our modern, globalised world where we’re accustomed to so many different flavour combinations, perhaps I have been spoilt. These spices would have represented some really exotic flavours in Tudor times. And for many different uses, I love them. But in this combination? Nope. Just doesn’t work for me. Clearly I was not made for Tudor times. I will recalibrate my time machine now.