Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On a cold and rainy December night in Charleston, reminiscent of a blustery London night, to be sure, a lovely 4 course dinner was served at theWentworth Mansion's restaurant, Circa 1886.  The annual Dickens Dinner, featuring storyteller Tim Lowry reciting Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol, took place in their cozy dining rooms on Dec. 12th.
The attentive wait staff served each course between segments of the story told by Mr. Lowry, who alternated between the two dining rooms, in period costume, with vitality and verve.
The first course was a creamy parsnip soup, an English specialty, with a Lowcountry touch....lumps of tender poached crabmeat.  The nutmeg whipped cream swirled throughout was the perfect finish to the dish.
The second course this year featured braised chestnuts, (last year's chestnuts were roasted) which were perfectly prepared with just the right nutty flavor.  They complemented the poached egg salad, served with wilted endive, lardons and a tangy malt dressing.
Our main course was wild pacific salmon, "Fish & Chips" with a twist.  It was cooked in a light lemon caper sauce, served over a very crispy potato cake and accompanied by tiny, whole baby carrots.
Our fourth course, the "Sweet Finish", was an absolutely perfect Christmas pudding.  The dish was full of plump golden and dark raisins, with just the right spongy consistency and a strong but sweet brandy flavor.  All of the guests at our table agreed that it was the best dessert they had tasted in a very long time, and a picture perfect Christmas pudding.  Bravo!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Author Mitch Albom's books are always interesting, thought provoking and controversial.  I say controversial because they are sometimes considered "light" by those who feel you should read "high brow" or stay home, so to speak.  As someone who reads voraciously, everything from St. Paul, Dickens, Wiesel, Dostoevsky, Hardy, Fitzgerald and Hemingway to Theroux, Stewart, Mayle and Krakauer, I feel like I can speak honestly enough about books to say that my first reaction to his books, just for a flash of a few seconds, was "light weight".  Then, I read them.  They make you think, they make you feel and they make you remember and return.  Isn't that what good literature is all about?  
Albom's newest book, the time keeper, lower case, is certainly interesting.  It gives us time personified, in the form of a primitive man who produced the first clock and calendar, much to his eventual dismay.  The dismay is thought provoking, as it makes the measurement of time the villain.  The controversy comes in when you see the squandering of time by both young and old.  Is time put to good use, which actually is still measured, a villain?  Not in the summation of the events in this novel.
The Ben Franklin quote, first published in Poor Richard's Almanack in June 1746, comes to mind....
"Dost though love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of."  Is it the squandering of it or the measuring of it that's the enemy?  Take the time to read the book, and you can decide for yourself.