Sunday, August 2, 2015

My last day at Hampton...sadness... Alternate Title: day 11

I am greeting you with sadness, this will be my last post for this trip. :(

Today was my final day at Hampton with the amazing team working there. Jeff was off on his own today, so I made the last trek on my own. It was a beautiful day and they had the Prudential Ride London today, so if I was coming in by car, I would probably have cursed. LOL but I was on the train again. It is a really nice ride.

When I arrived the street was blocked and a lot of cyclists were coming around the corner there. It was really exciting to watch.

Cyclists for the Prudential Ride London @ Hampton.
Walking to the palace I was struck with how wonderful it really is, and that this would be my last time for a while. I was sad. So I took a selfie! LOL

I think the Palace was smiling. ;)
I was excited to see everyone again. I popped into registration and waited to be picked up. This morning it was Barry who came and got me. We chatted about yesterday and what I wanted to today, I explained I would like to maybe do a couple of the audio tours and of course do some more stuff in the kitchen.  We said good morning to everyone and Barry walked with me to get my audio guide. I love talking with him, so much knowledge and great tidbits. I wish I could be there longer to get ALL the information from them. OK, it's and excuse to want to sponge all the information.

So I decided to do the Henry VIII apartment tour. They had the actors in, and I would always seem to get stuck when they would be doing a scene. I video taped some of the music bits for Marie again. :) (I hope they are of use for you, Marie).

The great hall - amazing tapestries
I have more pictures on my real camera, so you will have to wait for those. I will create a nice picture gallery when I get home. I went to see the Chapel again (sorry no pictures allowed). Once I finished the tour, I headed back to the kitchens, excited to start my day.

As I entered, Marc told me there were SCAdians from Canada at the table, so of course we introduced ourselves and chatted. They were curious about how I came to be cooking here. It was fun to meet fellow Canadians AND Scadians!

Once they moved on, Marc was working on the Pudding of an ox again, so this time I helped mix the items together, so I almost did the whole recipe. What I didn't do was prepare the blood, chop the bacon fat, measure out the oatmeal or spices. It was really fun AND I got to taste it from yesterday. They had sliced it and fried it in bacon fat...Yum, it was quite tasty, and with an egg it would have been even better. I like it when I am surprised on the taste of something.

It is so easy to get distracted by the people coming through. Everyone was saying really if they finished a recipe it was great, but the main purpose was to engage the visitors and let the food facilitate the interaction. It was a lot of fun explaining what I was doing.

When there was a bit of a lull, Richard had me work with Robin on a recipe called Ryschewys close and fryez. Which is basically a paste pouch with minced dried fruit and spices, fried. Really delicious. So the first thing we needed to make was the paste (or pasta). I opted to have saffron in it, so it would be a really nice yellow colour. The first thing we needed to do was to grind the saffron, the once it was ground we added water to it, which was a lovely yellow colour. So we put flour in a bowl, add sea salt to it (it helps with the gluten in the dough), mixed it with my hands, then I made a small well in the flour and added the saffron water to it. We mixed it until it started to form a dough. We then had to kneed it until it no longer stretched or bounced back. This is so we can get it as thin as possible. For me with no muscles and little hands was really hard to do. Robin would take over and get it going really well. He said that it should take about 20 min to get the right feel to it.

The dough waiting to be rolled. Under a damp cloth
While that was resting, we had to get the filling together, so robin had my cut some dates, figs and raisins. Putting it into the big mortar, add a little bit of red wine to give it a bit of liquid, I needed to make a paste with it. This was also really hard, as I have no muscles or muscle memory. Poor Robin had to take over to help wimpy me. :p

Fruit paste coming along.
Once it was the right consistency, it was time to decide on the spices. Now I was really nervous here as I have never tried some of these spices. Robin was very patient with me and explained what they had, how it tasted (and gave me tastings) and how it smelled. One I had never seen was cubeb. Robin crushed it and had me smell it. It had a floral note to it and a little bit of heat when you tasted it. Really a nice spice. You don't need much either. So, I decided on this mixture: cubeb, long pepper, black pepper, cannelle buds (Cassia buds). I ground them up, Robin suggested I give it a sniff and see if it smelled ok. So I did and I said it was missing something....maybe cinnamon. So he shaved some and put it in the mortar for me to grind. When I smelt it again, I announced it was perfect. He said, if it smelt good it would taste good. :) Into the fruit it went. I have to say I was really nervous that it would taste awful. I felt so out of my league.

spiced have been added
We then rolled out the paste, it needed to be paper thin, so that when fried it would crisp nicely. I loved the rolling pin I was using. It wasn't as long as a French pin and it was a lot thicker, about 3" diameter and about 1.5' long. Really awesome pin. Then I needed to cut out circles in the paste to form the packets. we used the very technical top of a mug. :) I cut out about a dozen circles, then Robin showed me how to stuff them, and try not to rip the dough. also we needed to get all the air out too.

Frying them up
We couldn't have a full fryer on site, so we made due. This was really cool as you can control the heat of the oil on the fire really well, and just take it off when it was too hot. While it was cooling you could add another one in.

The final product:

waiting to be eaten. 
These were so delicious! delicate, crunchy and gooey. Really nice. Thanks Robin for all the time on this one. :)

I realized that it was soon time to head back to London, as I had to meet Jeff at the Globe for Measure for Measure. We were going to be groundlings, I was very excited.

I made my way around, saying my goodbyes to Richard, Jorge, Marc, Robin and Barry. They were so nice and amazing to work with. I can see why these guys have been together for so long, they are the well oiled machine. I hope I didn't disrupt too much, but I am very grateful for all the time they spent me Jeff and I.

I wasn't able to get a picture with everyone, but here is one of Richard, me and Jorge - taken by Barry. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Richard, Erin and Jorge (Barry behind the camera)
Missing was Marc and Robin.
I left Hampton Court Palace with a lot of new ideas and concepts. It was amazing watching these guys cook and interact with the visitors. I would love to work with them again. They are very inspiring!

Now to stand for 2.5 hrs watching Shakespeare...can it get any better? Jeff was waiting in line for us, so I could be close to the stage. The only problem with being short. This show was amazing and being a groundling...I felt I could be a little more rowdy. Lots of sexual innuendos (that's how I like my Shakespeare) and lots of laughs too. Really amazing and I would be a groundling again any time.

Well time to pack!



Saturday, August 1, 2015

I have made the pilgrimage to Hampton! Alternate Title: Day 10

EDIT: I made an error in one of the historian's name, it was not Oliver but Robin. My apologies.

I have made it! Greetings Tudor fanatics!

Soooo....this day was long and coming and I don't know if this post will do it justice. I will try, but man there was so much info.

The day started out beautiful, Jeff was coming with me, so he made sure we had a good breakfast before we headed out. To be honest, I was not hungry. I was just too nervous to eat, but I made sure I stuffed my face. lol

Jeff decided he was going to video tape our ride to Hampton. When he is done with it, I will post it. It should be awesome.  We decided to walk to Canada Water tube station since it was so nice, then hoped on the Jubilee line to Waterloo station. From Waterloo station we took the train to Hampton, which is about a half hour ride. I can't say how amazing it was outside...and of course I am going to be in a kitchen all day. In fact, I think this weekends weather will be the best since we have been in London. Figures!

Main gates - 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace

Starting the walk up the drive!

Amazing Palace

Our instructions were to go to the reception office and Richard Fitch was going to meet us there. So at the reception desk, we had to get special name tags to wear.

Very official!

An excited Erin...or really nervous, hard to tell

Richard came and got us and brought us through to the main building and had us do the audio guide till they were ready to help us get started. I was so nervous, my stomach was doing flips. We had done this before, but there was some new stuff added since we were there last. Since they are celebrating the 500th anniversary, there are special activities happening till the end of august. We made our way to the main court to see the Henry VIII come in with his courtiers.

Singing and dancing Tudors
I am not sure how accurate this singing and dancing Tudors are, but it was fun to watch and listen to. Marie, maybe we can find something like this for the choir. Jeff has some video! 

I think this is Henry...they really didn't say! lol
It was a fun thing to watch, but I think anyone who has to do protocol work for Royalty would be kinda offended. lol

Heading back to the kitchens, we watched Robin (My mistake yesterday - it was not Oliver - I apologize for that.) & Zak working the roasting meat. The great thing is that anyone can have a go at it. In fact, they encourage it. Richard had us start with Jorge who was playing the kitchen clerk. His specialty is period handwriting and manners. we watched him chat with all the visitors and get them to sign the visitor book they were creating. He even created a nice Tudor letter for our visit and sealed it with his personal seal.

Our personal letter from Jorge
His amazing handwriting
Jeff had a go at creating a ledger list.

Jeff's ledger
Jorge was telling us all about the paper and that it was important to have this linen paper as they had examples that are well over 2000 years old. Modern paper is just not the same, it is too acidic and won't keep like historical parchment. We talked about inks and how cheap it was to make, and sealing wax. I really want to learn how to write like this. :) He then had us help him set up a Tudor table to talk about table manners. He explained how strict they were in Tudor time and how the table was set and the dishes used. This is very interesting!

A Tudor table setting
The table linen is better quality than the linen smocks I own. Sigh, my standards need to go up I think.

Once we were done with learning with Jorge, Richard had us come back to the kitchen area and work on some recipes. First up was Pudding of an Ox (or blood/black pudding) with Marc. Now I missed the messy part of making it, but I was there to stuff them. :)

Getting instruction on using the horn to stuff the pudding.

getting ready to stuff

poking in the stuffing

pushing the stuffing down, making sure no air is in there.

Pleased with my sausage. :)
The second dish I was working on was Sorge (sp?)

This dish was really easy and Jeff and I completed it together. First was the chicken Richard had been boiling for some time. Then we needed to get some hard-boiled eggs going.

Richard checking the chicken

getting the spices ready
So the recipe calls for eggs whites and egg yolks, chicken, vinegar (vine, ale or cider) sage, galangal, ginger and cloves. A very simple recipe. Jeff placing the very heavy bronze pot on the fire with the eggs inside.

Jeff putting on the water for the eggs

Eggs are on
 Jeff and I worked together to get the spices ready. The ginger and galangal were dry so we had to shave it before placing it in the brass mortar and pestle. We started with the ginger, then ground it fine in the brass M&P. Once it was a nice consistency, we dumped it into the very large marble mortar with a wooden pestle. We did 2 cloves next, it was recommended to chop the clove a bit before using the mortar. The last one was the galangal, we also shaved this before putting it in the M&P as it was very fibrous and like a dried mushroom (which it is not). Once all the spices were done, they were placed in the large mortar and pestle and the fresh sage was added. the technique to get the fresh sage to mix was really interesting. Richard showed me the proper technique and it had a unique sound, when done right. I need one of these!

The herb and spice mixture
When the eggs were done, we needed to peel them (damn eggs are just like that lunch we did), then we needed to separate the yolks and whites. the yolks were then added to the large mortar and mixed together with the spices. Once it was well mixed, we added malt vinegar to the mixture to get a wet consistency (like a deviled egg). It was quite a bit of vinegar, but the flavour was really nice. Then I shredded the whites into the mortar as Jeff stirred it with a spoon. I then placed the mixture into the bottom of the bowl. Richard recommended that I smooth out the top before placing the shredded chicken on top.

The egg mixture going into the bowl
Below is the final dish, this recipe is served cold and boy was it delicious!

chicken on top - the final dish
This ends day 1 of my Tudor adventure. All I can say is that this is all I have ever wanted to do, I am in heaven!


The Foodie Geek Out! Alternate Title: Day 9

Greeting my fellow foodies!

On Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a whole day with Marc Meltonville at Kew Palace Royal Kitchens. Marc is one of the lead food historians for the Historic Royal Palaces. He is an idol for me, I was so nervous meeting him. He is in many of the early Tudor food shows and is a Hampton often. Though this weekend he was working at Kew doing the Georgian food weekend.

Tide is out on my way over Kew Bridge

We chatted about so many food and non food related items. He told me about his work in the US on brewing and distillery. About the Chocolate kitchens at Hampton and everything in between. This man knows so much! He knew the history on the kitchens in Kew, how they were completely forgotten in 1818 and used as storage until just recently. How they restored the kitchens, speculated on their uses and amazed at the technological advances.

Original Kitchen with all accessories

Recreated side - as was destroyed with the addition on a flat in the building

The spits

Spit rest (curved part) so one person could load the spit

Fan inside the chimney powered by the heat of the fire, which turned the spits - innovation

I won't drone on about what we chatted, but if you want to know more, corner me at an event. I assisted in cleaning the copper pots for the cooking weekend and helped Tom and Marc set up the new side for the cooking demonstrations. I wish I could have seen both Hampton and Kew!

I enjoyed chatting from 11am to 4pm. It was an amazing experience and I am so happy to have met him. Maybe when I get home, I can ask some more pointed questions, that when I was there was too awed to ask (or completely forgot!).

The Dutch House (Kew Palace)
yes I was there!
I looked at some of the gardens, but to be honest, I was tired. It was an exciting day. I shall leave you with me leaving Kew and the tide was up.

Tide is up - Kew Bridge

EDIT: Oops! I totally forgot to mention that I was interviewed on All in a Day with Alan Neal on CBC radio one today. It was on at about 4:50pm. Jeff and I actually caught it on our way back from the grocery store. When I get the mp3, I will post it! ~Erin