The best Champagne
‘,…Short of the best—which some may find an extravagance at eight pounds—it doesn’t make sense to buy champagne. The five pound variety is rarely worth the price. Since competitive alternatives can be had for half as much. From France, the dry sparkling wines of Seyssel are often the equal of medium-priced champagne. California “ champagne” ( the long arm of the French labelling law does not reach across the Atlantic ) can also be quite decent; the best are Korbel Natural and Hans Kornell.
The best college at Oxford
‘Magdalen, both the most beautiful and the most intellectually diverse. Christ Church is an unreconstructed sanctuary of the worst in British snobbery; Balliol is like an American law school, full of politics and ambition. Magdalen has everything : class warfare on even terms, superb tutors, an immense spectrum of interests and tastes’. Other colleges are available…
The best diet
‘The crashing bore of it all. Everyone knows what the best diet is…Lean meat, cottage cheese. Skim milk, an occasional slice of bread or a baked potato, fresh fruit and veggies; no skipping breakfast, apples and carrot sticks for snacks, plenty of leafy greens to prevent the inevitable…The only thing wrong with the diet—besides the fact that no one in his right mind would stick to it –is that calorie recommendations are too generous, even for the intended audience… Continue reading
Spotted in California at De Luxe Foods this American/ Irish cheese named after Oscar Wilde. Aged two years. Probably very decadent. There are not that many commercial foods and beverages named after writers and artists. Plenty of dishes, however, like Omelette Arnold Bennett, Peach Melba, Chateaubriand etc.,- Wikipedia has an extensive list.) I have also seen a Jack London wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon with a wolf motif on the label) and a Conradian coffee called ‘Heart of Darkness.’ Back in Europe there is a very more-ish chocolate biscuit called Leibniz, the name taken from the great thinker and mathematician. Jerry Garcia was the inspiration for Benn and Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’ and in France there is a champagne named after the Marquis de Sade- at 35 euros a bottle it is not cruelly expensive. The Wildean cheese was $6 for just over half a pound. News of any other such products would be welcome. Why isn’t there a small sponge cake with a distinctive shell-like shape named after Proust? Or a Balzac coffee (did he not sometimes drink 50 cups a day?)
Found among a large collection of menus printed at the turn of the nineteenth century by the high class Cambridge printer W.P.Spalding is this menu for the annual ‘Agamemnon Dinner’ of the famous Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, which was held at King’s College on 27th November 1900.
A copy of this particular menu, signed by some who attended the Dinner, is in the King’s College archives. It shows that the medievalist M.R.James, a good amateur actor who enjoyed reciting his famous ghost stories at ADC events, was present at the Dinner, along with A.A.Milne, then in his Fresher year. All the menus reflect the high gastronomical standards of the various Cambridge colleges at that time, but the dishes on offer at the Agamemnon Dinner seem particularly delicious.
James and Milne could choose from starters that included Potage Dauphine served with an amontillado, Turbot boulli, sauce crevettes and filet de sole a la Villeroi which came with a liebfraumilch, perdrix aux choux, or petites timbales a la Royale, which were served with a 1894 Champagne Irroy.
The main courses consisted of Boeuf pique a la Godard, Oison Roti, sauce aux pommes, celery a l’Espagnoles, haricots verts, pommes de terre en croquettes et Oakley.
Or they might prefer Langue de Boeuf a la Ecarlate with puree d’Epinards.
Dessert number one came in the form of ‘Pouding A.D.C.’ or Bavarois au Curacao.
Then there were liqueurs offered with Glace au pain bis a la Jamaique..
Then, rather bizarrely, came Croutes d’ Anchois ( marinated fish towards the end of a meal; I wonder if this was ever popular). And finally, another Dessert (not specified), after which came port and coffee.
Personally, I could happily scoff the lot—apart from the anchovies, obviously, although I’d want to know what potato croquettes ‘et Oakley’ exactly meant. [RR]