Wagner’s Crab

Food and wine pair­ing is achingly fash­ion­able at the moment. I’m afraid my know­ledge about which wine to pair with what food doesn’t extend bey­ond when to drink Chab­lis and why Caber­net Sauvign­on doesn’t work with rhu­barb crumble. I am, how­ever, very good at food and per­form­ance pair­ing.  In case you haven’t come across it, food and per­form­ance pair­ing is the art of what to eat after a trip to the theatre. To give you an idea:

The Cherry Orch­ard — bit­ter cherry cla­foutis and a litre of vodka.

Death of a Sales­man — hot­dog with a friend who feels a fail­ure.

Wait­ing for Godot — a pic­nic of chick­en and raw car­rots while wait­ing for an acquaint­ance who nev­er turns up.

Tit­us Andronicus — noth­ing for a week.

I now know what to eat after a Wag­n­er opera. Hav­ing just seen Wag­n­er for the first time in the form of the Eng­lish Nation­al Opera’s pro­duc­tion of The Fly­ing Dutch­man, I’m proudly in the post-Wag­n­eri­an phase of my life. Orla Boylan’s inter­pret­a­tion of tra­gic Sen­ta — intense, intro­ver­ted and slightly obsess­ive — is mes­mer­ising. She’s a mag­ni­fi­cent sop­rano who com­bines touch­ing sens­it­iv­ity with a deep, vis­cer­al power.

At din­ner after the per­form­ance, there was some­thing on the res­taur­ant menu that seemed per­fect to fol­low such high and intense drama — crab. Not a prissy crab, dressed and piled softly back into the shell from whence it had come and piped with may­on­naise stripes. But an armour-plated Wag­n­eri­an crab that looked as though it had just clattered into the res­taur­ant, clambered onto the table and said “Ok — I dare you.” With crack­ers and probes, snip­pers and forks, it was a war of attri­tion to see who would win — the crab or me.

Orla is the best sop­rano to have at the din­ner table. Not only does she sing so beau­ti­fully that you want to weep, as a teen­ager she had a hol­i­day job boil­ing, crack­ing and dress­ing the crabs that her dad caught in pots. After the soar­ing per­form­ance of The Fly­ing Dutch­man, there was the impress­ive drama of watch­ing Orla do battle with the crab, hoi­k­i­ng out morsels of meat that the rest of us failed to find.

I watched The Fly­ing Dutch­man with a very clev­er friend who grows things almost as well as Orla sings things. My friend’s mag­ni­fi­cent garden is crammed with herbs that would make even a fish-fin­ger fan want to cook.

Ani­seed-fla­voured sweet cicely over­flows in flouncy, lacy heaps, along with drifts of lovage, clouds of wild flowers, perky rhu­barb and things I’ve nev­er heard of.

So, in hon­our of the mag­ni­fi­cent Orla Boylan — as well as The Fly­ing Dutch­man and my friend’s glor­i­ous garden — here is Wag­n­eri­an Crab Salad with Sweet Cicely and Wild Flowers along with a glass of Sweet Cicely and Cucum­ber Cock­tail. The crab isn’t the macho mon­ster that I did battle with after the opera. But just as you can’t watch a Wag­n­er opera every day of the week, you can’t fight a crab every day either.

SWEET CICELY AND CUCUMBER COCKTAIL WITH A LOVAGE STRAW

  • 1 part Limon­cino
  • 1 part gin
  • 5 parts lem­on­ade
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Quarter of a cucum­ber, peeled
  • Ice cubes
  • A hand­ful of sweet cicely tender stems, to taste
  • Sweet cicely leaves to dec­or­ate
  • Lovage stalks, trimmed to make straws

Com­bine all the ingredi­ents, apart from the dec­or­at­ive leaves and lovage stalks, in a food pro­cessor. Pur­ee to a liquid and pour into a glass. You can strain the liquid if you prefer. The stems of lovage are hol­low and make per­fect straws. They add the most deli­cious fla­vour of per­fumed cel­ery to any drink. Gar­nish the cock­tail with sweet cicely leaves and add a lovage straw.

WAGNERIAN CRAB SALAD WITH SWEET CICELY, WILD FLOWERS AND AVOCADO

Serves 2

  • 100g white crab meat
  • 1 avo­cado
  • 1 dessert spoon creme fraiche
  • A few chives plus the flowers
  • A few sweet cicely stems and leaves, chopped finely
  • Zest of 1 lem­on plus a squirt of lem­on juice
  • Season­ing
  • Viola flowers or any oth­er edible flowers

Slice the avo­cado and divide between two plates. Com­bine the crab, creme fraiche, lem­on juice and zest, season­ing, chopped chives and sweet cicely stems. Pile on top of the avo­cado and dec­or­ate with chive flowers and sweet cicely flowers.

Eat and drink the above after any Wag­n­er opera. They go togeth­er per­fectly.

If You are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the day to do so. So the next mat­ter is where can you find inform­a­tion that is reli­able. You can get such inform­a­tion fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pop­u­lar medi­cine is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly either adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men turn on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good health, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied phys­i­cian imme­di­ately for a com­plete med­ic test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.

A feast for Karen Blixen

There are many reas­ons to admire the writer Kar­en Blix­en and Babette’s Feast is one of them. Her story of a french woman who cre­ates a mag­ni­fi­cent din­ner on which she lav­ishes her entire for­tune is one I’ve always loved. The two eld­erly sis­ters for whom Babette cooks are aghast to learn that she has spent everything she has and will be impov­er­ished for the rest of her life. Her san­guine reply is that ‘an artist is nev­er poor’.

Early this morn­ing I found anoth­er reas­on to admire Kar­en Blix­en. Read­ing a slightly whim­sic­al but magic­al book called Writers’ Houses, I dis­covered that ‘Kar­en liked to com­bine old roses with cab­bage leaves, or blos­soms from her garden with wild herbs gathered in the forest behind the house. On days when she received guests, she rose at five in the morn­ing to go out and gath­er flowers while they were still moist with dew.’

What? I’m all for mak­ing my din­ner guests feel cher­ished, but get up at five in the morn­ing so the flowers for the table still have dew on them? I’m sorry, but you have to be jok­ing. I admit though that I was so impressed by her exact­ing aes­thet­ic sense that I nipped out­side and gathered some rose­mary flowers for lunch. It was already 7.30 in the morn­ing, which is prac­tic­ally mid after­noon by Kar­en Blixen’s stand­ards — but look, they have dew!

Herb flowers are the finest part of the plant. They hold with­in them a whis­per of the fla­vour of the stems from which they came; a del­ic­ate, fra­grant memory of their more upfront, bossy, herby rel­at­ives. Kar­en Blix­en liked to include herb flowers in bou­quets. I like to include mine on my plate.

Pea, Rosemary Flower and Crab Risotto

Serves 4

3 table­spoons olive oil

2 knobs but­ter

1 large onion

2 gar­lic cloves

350g risotto rice

1 large glass dry white wine

1 litre veget­able stock

200g frozen peas

100g fresh white crab meat

Hand­ful rose­mary flowers — chive flowers are good too

Melt one knob of but­ter with the olive oil over a medi­um heat and gently cook the chopped onion and gar­lic until soft but not brown. Add the rice and a little salt and stir until coated and glossy. Pour in the white wine and stir until fully absorbed by the rice. Mean­while heat the stock in a neigh­bour­ing pan and once the wine has been absorbed, ladle a little hot stock onto the rice and stir. As soon as the stock is absorbed, add more, stir­ring all the while. If you run out of stock, add a little boil­ing water. Once the rice is cooked and creamy which will take about twenty minutes, add the uncooked and still frozen peas and stir them through for just a couple of minutes. Don’t over­cook them because the last thing you want are khaki-col­oured peas. Stir in the second knob of but­ter, check the season­ing, put the lid on the pan and take off the heat. Divide between four warm bowls, sprinkle with rose­mary flowers and top with the white crab meat.

Pea, rose­mary flower and crab risotto is, to my mind, the per­fect lunch. I like to think the cre­at­or of Babette’s Feast would have enjoyed it too, dew or no dew.

If You are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the when to do so. So the next prob­lem is where can you find inform­a­tion that is reli­able. You can get such data fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pops medi­cine is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly each adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men turn on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good sound­ness, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied doc­tor imme­di­ately for a com­plete med­ic­al test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.