Star (anise) wars


Lord Vader was playing with his food. They always scolded him when he did it, but he couldn’t help it. He sensed something. A presence he hadn’t felt since..... At that moment, Obi wan entered, surveyed the room and took a seat next to Vader. Darth Vader couldn’t believe his luck. Years of searching the galaxy, and Obi Wan had just sat down next to him. ‘Play it cool’ he thought to himself. ‘Here’, he gestured, ‘try some of this. It’s truly delicious’, offering Obi Wan a bowl of plum and blackberry cobbler, tucking a whole star anise just beneath its steaming surface. Obi wan, being the gentle and benevolent soul that he was, gratefully accepted the offering. Picking up his spoon, he lifted a large spoon of cobbler towards his mouth. ‘Almost there’, muttered Vader under his breath, barely able to contain his excitement, ‘almost there......’

Ok, so this isn’t quite how things played out at Tante Marie, but I maintain that it isn’t far off. In our little scenario, I of course play the kind and powerful Obi wan, whilst Lord Vader is played by my classmate Sheetal. Whilst biting into the star anise certainly would have made the first week memorable, I think on balance I’m glad Neil was there to dive to the rescue at the last second. I should point out at this juncture, that in reality, Sheetal had no idea the star anise had been left in the cobbler mix and the whole thing was an honest mistake. But it’s my blog and I shall take artistic licence where necessary to make my contrived analogies work. Nevertheless, revenge shall be exacted.

Ridiculous star wars puns aside and onto the last few days. On Friday, our morning session comprised what was essentially a roast, learning to truss a chicken and making some brown stock which we’ll be using next week to make a French onion soup. And of course the previously mentioned plum and blackberry cobbler which was delicious, and I have to say, far more enjoyable than a crumble.


Afternoon saw a demonstration of some of next week’s dishes from Alex including pork escalopes with orange which on paper sounded rather 70s and strange but tasted amazing. Most excitingly we watched him make a latticed apple flan which again tasted amazing. My pastry skills are...challenged, but I’m looking forward to trying the lattice pattern. It’s far simpler to do than I expected, but just not the sort of thing I ever would have figured out on my own.


I intend not to make a point of listing things I eat at home, for the simple reason that I fail to see why that would be of particular interest to anyone. However, I feel I have to mention the garlic and rosemary baked camembert and home-made focaccia that I ate at a friend’s house on the weekend. I’m not usually a camembert fan, but both it and the bread were truly amazing.

Sunday is worth mentioning for two main reasons. Firstly, in helping Rebecca to move house, I came across her digital camera which she has given me for the duration of the course at least, so I can stop taking photos with a device that doesn’t even have a working flash any more. So hopefully, some far more appetising pictures of food will appear on the blog once I figure out how to charge the thing. Secondly, I watched Ewan eat a burger the size of his head. If you haven’t met Ewan, you may think this is of little importance. If you have seen the size of his head however, you will realise how significant an achievement this was.


I had intended to write a piece on something non Tante Marie related this weekend, but my hectic schedule of catching up on sleep prohibited this, but I intend to get round to it this week sometime. Fear not Mirabel, the true history of millionaire’s shortbread is on its way.