Good morning, you gorgeous lot. I hope that you are all ready to face these final few days of January with gusto.
If you are finding that recent global events have continually kicked the gusto out of you, I hope that you will stand beside me, feign gusto, fake it until you make it with every fibre of your being, and not take any of this lying down.
On Saturday night, I gathered with like-minded friends to celebrate Burns Night. Yes, we may have been a few days late but we certainly managed to enter into the belated spirit of the event. There was haggis (both meaty and vegetarian versions) accompanied by neeps and tatties and lashings of single malt. For my own contribution, I assembled a Cranachan, which it transpires is just a trifle with Scottish produce thrown in. As I layered raspberries and clusters of rolled oats cooked in honey, between generous dollops of whisky cream I thought of how Tiramisu is the same trick pulled by the Italians. Both resulting in infinity more pleasurable versions of the (presumably English) trifle that I hated as a child.
Coming over here, making our trifles better…
The following morning, I found myself rather weighted in my bed with a heavy, unliftable skull. Thank goodness for social media and the writings of Jay Rayner. As I lay there, regretting my life choices, I stumbled across Jay’s most recent article, a review of detox aiding products. If you are skiving off with a cup of tea, I urge you to click through and read the article because it is wonderful. In it, there is one very simple conclusion that you should come away with; there is no such thing as a detox. Sure, you can cut down or cut out consumption of alcohol, sugar, whatever the designated ‘bad thing’, but you cannot detoxify yourself with anything that you eat or drink or don’t eat or drink. Your liver and kidneys do this job for you, or they don’t.
(Cue a shameful cut and paste because this is Jay Rayner’s source and not mine)
“The whole idea does make me smile,” says Dr Donal O’Donoghue, professor of renal medicine at Manchester University and president of the Renal Association, “because it is cobblers. There is nothing like this which will improve your body’s detoxification system.”
Taken from Dishing the dirt on detox – Jay Rayner (The Guardian) Click here to read the article in full
So as we come to the end of January in whatever way that you have denied yourself a little luxury, a little pleasure – to atone for the indulgence of Christmas – I hope that you will treat yourself to something in the first week of February. If it is a glass of wine, make it a really good glass of wine from a fancy bottle. If chocolate is your poison, submit in style to a hit so pure that it knocks you back in your seat with a “hot damn!”
I was lucky enough to see Jay Rayner performing his Songs of Food & Agony at The Rose Theatre in Kingston last year. In this evening, the tales of foodie adventures were peppered liberally with jazz from this talented musician and his ensemble. If you love food, jazz, and light bitching, click here for more live dates and tickets as the show is on again in that London.
Though Jay may have been leading the band from behind the piano, the undeniable force at the front of the stage was provided by vocalist Pat Gordon-Smith, Jay’s wife. I found myself caught up in the romance of a couple who can make such fantastic music together, imagining chic soirees with exquisitely curated menus and impromptu jazz. The equivalent in our home is Frank Sinatra Live at The Sands played on the radiogram!
So I would love to bake a cake for Jay Rayner and risk being read for filth by this uncompromising food critic. I would play it super-safe with my legendary Chocolate Mud Cake, the recipe for which is available by clicking here and has become a firm favourite for so many of you who have been kind enough to tell me so. I would take a generously proportioned bake round to place on top of the piano for an après-Jazz treat.
I genuinely believe that Chocolate Mud Cake can cure most ills and solve most of the world’s problems. My confidence in this statement is only emboldened by the ridiculous similar claims that have been made by an onslaught of unqualified ‘experts’ (or, thin people who look good on the cover of a cookbook).
Jay Rayner has repeatedly called out these so-called experts and I applaud him for it…
“IT’S CALLED STOCK. And it won’t beat that cold.”
@jayrayner1 from Twitter
…We would all be downing endless mugs of Oxo to heal ourselves without him. I know cake; I am a cake-xpert. I prescribe you all cake today as the only cure for Monday.
If we are all grown-ups and all responsible for what we consume, eat and drink what makes you happy and your body will look after itself. Proof of this revolutionary approach? I love Chocolate Mud Cake but I can only eat one slice. To quote the old adage, ‘a little of what you fancy does you good.’
We all need something delicious to look forward to today so I am going to release you back into your Monday with your cake prescription and a parting thought from Jay Rayner himself, taken from his book, My Dining Hell: Twenty Ways To Have A Lousy Night Out.
“Dr Robert Atkins, the king of the low-carbohydrate diet, died a couple of weeks back, at a relatively youthful seventy-two. What a perfect story to point up the mendacity of the diet industry. For decades Atkins made a fortune selling desperate souls of the idea that the secret to a long, healthy life lay in the pages of his books. And then what happens? One morning he slips on an icy Manhattan pavement, bangs his head, and a few days later they’re arranging the funeral. All of which proves that the Fates have a very dark sense of humour, and that life is far too random for it to be wasted on a faddish diet that excludes great bread and pasta.”
Jay Rayner’s Songs of Food & Agony is live at Zedel on Saturday 18th February and Friday 24th March, then at Ronnie Scott’s on Saturday 23rd April. Click here for tickets.
Click here for more fantasy bakes. I go off on one every Monday to kick start the week.