Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Banana flavoured Cinnamon Chips Mmmm!

Wienfluss Stadtpark

I think the Snow Kitty Litter people are using some smaller, grittier stuff this year and it clogs up my boots. I am not really complaining because it does stop me from falling over and killing myself but it is really gritty and crunchy and is making a terrible mess of the entrance foyer.

We are actually leaving our boots outside our front door this year because they are in such a state when we get home. Frau Helgersnizten our building lady has been out sweeping and mopping the elevator and the stairs. There is a particularly gritty path between the door and Japan Studio where men go to compose Haiku with young ladies.

Tuesday was the first day of ‘Mad Screaming Panic Christmas Food Shopping Time’ .

This lasts for 3.5 days, commencing at dawn on Tuesday and finishing at midday on Thursday – Christmas Eve – when workmen go through Austria nailing all the shop doors shut and shooting any shoppers left on the streets.

During this period there are many critical tasks I need to perform. These include Goose collection (update Rozalin has done this – there is no stopping that girl!), grocery and vegetable buying and assorted tasks which have not been thought of yet and will not be until just before midday on Thursday. I will have to run the gauntlet and hope I don’t get picked off.

As I am the cook during the year - Cate is cooking Christmas Dinner and is doing what she did last year – Goose. Last year was the first time we had eaten Goose and it was wonderful. There are no Geese in Stadtpark so we don’t feel so guilty.

The menu includes Date and Red Wine Sauce, Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Rosemary Spiked Cabbage and Calvados Glazed Apples.

The Goose recipes is one of Gordon Ramsay’s. You know him – he is the world’s most unpleasant chef. I tried to watch his TV show once but I had to grit my ears so tightly I couldn’t hear anything.

Cate’s recipes always include at least one impossible ingredient (which is always critical). This will be something like ‘Ethiopian Honey Glazed Lemon Pips’. These will be almost impossible to find and – when found – will be eye-poppingly expensive.

They will be so expensive because Selassie’s Honey Glazed Lemon Pips are ‘hand selected and rolled (by virgins) in the finest Ethiopian Honey. They are then sun dried for 5 years, being turned daily with eyebrow tweezers, before being individually wrapped in silver paper bearing the motif of the former Emperor. The bees used for the Honey are descendants of the former Emperor’s Bee Hives’.

When I finally find these damn things I will take them home and in the final recipe Cate will use 6 out of a jar of 600. The rest will then linger forever in the back of the kitchen cupboard which is full of things like ‘Grilled Curlewis Forearms’ and ‘Toasted Macaque Monkey Rubbings’ – the sorts of things that have been essential because some chef had a tub of these things under the stove and threw some into some bizarre concoction he was inventing.

I know how these things work. To make a living celebrity chefs have to invent new recipes for their books and TV shows. Well – there are not really any new recipes and haven’t been for some time so they have to be really creative. (foam was created for this purpose).

So after coming up with something like ‘Chocolate Coated Pork Crackling with Fricasseed Bat Ears and Duck Feet Foam’ the chef will decide that he needs something to give him an edge.

Ratting around in his kitchen cupboard he will find the ‘Banana flavoured Cinnamon chips’ which he bought (while drunk) in the spice market in Istanbul in 1996 – and has never used. He will throw a handful of these in and cause complete panic when the recipe is published in another excruciating Christmas recipe book and given to people all over the world.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, Mehmet Mustafa, the entrepreneur who invented this concoction, who has hitherto sold only two jars of Banana flavoured Cinnamon chips per annum – usually to his mother – will sell the remaining jars in an instant and will be inundated with orders.

Thinking his ship has come in he will immediately buy the entire Cinnamon crop in Turkey and make 100,000 jars – 99,600 of which he will have left 25 years later when he dies bankrupt – leaving these as his only useful possession. His children – unable to cope with the sight of these damn jars in his bedroom - will bury them with him.

Luckily one of his daughters will marry a wealthy Cinnamon farmer and will be able to support the family.

I have made a list – actually a spreadsheet – so that I at least try to get everything that is needed.

This has everything we need together with the precise amount required. I am working through it and ticking things off as we go. I am confident that the only errors and omissions will be minor ones and can be solved with things that I can scrounge from the back of the kitchen cupboard.

I am going to St. Petersburg. Rozalin managed to extract the Visa from the Russian Embassy and it is liftoff for Saturday morning (at – I regret to say 5:00 AM).


  1. O blindy shopping hours! #
    I have to venture out right now and fend for some foodstuff, to survive from Thursday, noon, until Monday morning at 8am! Those holidays, one after the next, are killing me! At least we know now why restaurants are always full here: Viennese are simply tired of hoarding food!

    Happy shopping!
    (Don't forget your reusable jute shopping bags!!!!)


  2. We have our special green bags from Australia. Never go anywhere without them!

  3. Hey, I saw a Grey Wagtail in that gutter once, and often some Mallards!

  4. @ Maalie:
    Sir, this ain't no gutter, but the Wien river!!!!


  5. You're definitely right about the snow kitty litter - I have a pair of boots that are designed for this weather and the grit has ruined them...

  6. Gordon Ramsay (shudder!). Maybe you can find the next hot ingredient in the back alleys of St. Petersburg and sell it to an up and coming chef in Wien.

  7. Jim will be very jealous if I tell him about your goose! So, maybe I won't.

    Two of my nieces are spending Christmas close by in Salzburg with their aunt (obviously not me) and two cousins - all from Australia. Frozen eyebrows are one of the complaints.

    Wishing you lots of jolly...