Monday, November 23, 2009

Fruitcake: Hellish Loaf of Penance or Delightful Dessert?

Much is made this time of year about fruitcake. While my friend Beth writes about her recipe in all its moist delicious glory, most people think of the leaden desiccated bricks that are the usual holiday fare. Well people, you're usually being served turkey that could be used to sand the paint off steel and mashed potatoes that would be better used as mastic. Open your mind to good fruitcake.

I don't have the recipe, but my mother made a good fruitcake. Back in the dim days of the Seventies, this didn't entail a trip to Whole Foods (yes there's one in my hometown now); this was ordering the dried fruits from California, the nuts from the South and some of the ingredients from, I don't know, Albany, Albania or perhaps Alpha Centauri- whatever place Angelica might naturally occur. After the fruits were soaked in Cognac for about a week or so they were added to the roasted nuts and cake batter and were baked (and how it didn't burn down the place I don't know), then the actual cakes were ritually soaked with more booze to the point that if one didn't wish to consume it one could light it afire and bask in its warmth for quite a few days. I do remember that after some initial resistance of the part of family friends to receiving the dreaded Holiday Loaf (ending perhaps upon sniffing 400 proof) that mothers fruitcake became looked upon as something between a Christmas tradition and an active, unending scrip for Ativan. Serenity in a slice. So much so that after my father died and she decided that perhaps packages from California of dried fruit were too much of a luxury for us in our sadly reduced circumstances needy WASPs showered us with enough packages not only to make the Secret Fruitcake for several seasons, but to keep us all regular well into the Eighties...

Image by the inimitable Edward Gorey from

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Thanksgiving. So I am giving Thanks.

I'm giving thanks for my health, my continued employment, my varied interests and finally and most importantly for my wonderful friends.

Is is heresy to write that I don't like turkey? I'd be giving much more thanks if the Pilgrims had served Fettuccine Carbonara...

Image: Butterball

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IFRA regulations, letting go and hope from the House of Chanel..

Not that anyone cares but the powers that be in the EU have declared that your perfume might kill you, and has to be neutered. Evil compounds like Citrus and Oakmoss must be stampted out: if you enjoyed Annick Goutal Eau de Hadrien please rely on your memory of it and walk past what passes for it today at Bloomingdales.

Guerlain hasn't been passed over, the new Spirteuse Double Vanille is a little less Spiriteuse and I don't even want to think what might have happened to some of the Miller Harris scents that I love. I don't think I want to investigate except to stock up..

I can only hope that the French will rise up against the threat of changing Chanel No 5 (if not Mitsouko). Surely the desecration of a shining example of all thing Fwehch will cause them to wake up and pelt the walls of the IFRA offices with orange peels until sense (and scents) are restored?

Because really, what's the next step? A statue of Marianne holding aloft a bottle of Purell?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose..

My friends at Perfume Posse wrote about a new Diptyque candle that is scented with "marrons grille". There's something about the scent of roasted chestnuts that is New York at the holidays for me, even though I've not lived there for 25 years. For all I know they might not even do it anymore, and lord knows I've enjoyed these decades of the absence of actual Winter and look forward to it's to be hoped decades more. That, and I actually don't care for chestnuts.

But I do have gilded memories of running around mid-town in an overcoat on errands, scarf and a Tam in place, smelling the roasted chestnuts on the crisp air and smugly cursing the tourists for slowing me momentarily down.

I know, you're all asking yourself, "how does he remain single?"

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V is for Vacuous, Part Deux.

Well, the new series premiered. They did do a lot more in the first ten minutes introducing the Visitors (which you saw in the previews); cramming into one hour a mention of "universal healthcare" and a reveal of the whole plot that the original took three hours to get to. But the original stuffed the story full with extraneous backstory. Like character development.

But they have done some interesting twists; the spray-painted "V" is now a mark of the Visitors rather than the resistance. The latex is thicker and we've had one major character come out as a lizard. I'll be there to see what happens next time..

Sunday, November 01, 2009

V is for Vacuous..

The remakes continue: ABC is premiering the new version of V, the 80's SciFi allegory of fascism in the form of Aliens who pretend to be benevolent humanoids on a mission of peace who turn out to be big lizards with bigger shoulder-pads whose favorite snack is.. us. The original is being shown on SyFy right now in all it's 80's glory and I am loving it: Jane Badler as baddie alien Diana gives a performance Joan Crawford would have high-fived and Marc Singer loses his shirt with regularity. I do remember the posters for the original series in the NYC subways: somewhat retro prints of the smiling aliens greeting children and the elderly with bland sayings like "The Visitors are our Friends" defaced by a spray-painted red "V". Nobody knew what the heck the ads were about; it's a concept that's been done enough to be cliché now, then it was an attention grabber.

One of the things that will not be in the remake is the Los Angeles lair of the resistance fighters: the site at Glendale and Beverly where the old Red Cars exited the tunnel starting at the Downtown Subway Terminal Building on their way to Glendale and Hollywood. That site, which you can read about here and more fascinatingly here is now the site of an inexplicably expensive new apartment building called Belmont Station. Inexplicable because it's located in a neighborhood that is still fairly gritty on a very busy street that is traversed by both Glendale Blvd at street level and the Beverly Blvd Viaduct, meaning motorists can see into your more-expensive-than-Westwood 5th floor bedroom. I'm still not quite sure how this parcel went from being a proposed park, to affordable housing to overpriced rentals for hipsters willing to pay top-dollar for apartments in a neighborhood they'd better think twice about walking at night...

Photo: ABC