Friday, April 22, 2011

Royal Icing

Okay, I will admit it; I cannot wait to see William and Catherine get married. I adore all the pageantry, the excitement, the clothing, the jewels. Against my nature and all adult reason, I will force my eyes open way too early so I do not miss a thing.

On April 29th, every public move made by the Happy Couple and Britain’s Royals will be televised, re-shown, You Tubed and commentated to death. I will, I am certain, thoroughly enjoy the spectacle along with multi millions of others.

But what we will not see much of, or perhaps even learn about, is the food those fabulous folk will enjoy. There has been some chatter about the wedding cake---booze soaked fruit cake laden with white butter cream and “Sweet William” flowers---and the groom’s cake---filled with broken cookie pieces (biscuits to the British), nuts, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. The Groom's cake recipe is said to be a Windsor family favorite and requires no baking; you just glob everything together, pour it into a pan and chill.

Now I also understand that these confections are being prepared by two of Britain’s finest patisseries so the cakes themselves should be quite upscale and quite lovely to look at. Piping on the wedding cake is said to be done in the style of Joseph Lambert---fine garlands and latticework done in royal icing over fondant. Let us just hope they are just as delicious to eat as they are certain to look.  

Of course, I am aware that I will never know for sure as I have not been royally invited and therefore will not be able to taste aforementioned cakes and in turn pass along my judgment.

So all of this leads me to fantasize as to what a royal wedding costing millions of dollars (or pounds, excuse me) has in the way of food. Will proper English staff in brass-buttoned morning coats pass shiny silver trays laden with caviar and foie? Will they dine on exotic game birds like pheasant or partridge or quail, or lovely pink lamb or oysters and cod?  Sip magnums of rare Champagne and exotic teas? 

Or is too much being spent on clothing, pomp and restoring the Abbey to leave any budget for food. Will they instead have a wedding breakfast of tiny cucumber sandwiches, kedgeree and eggs?

There is a recent survey of top American Chefs suggesting that the menu include lobster with truffles (Alex Guarnaschelli---I’d go for that!) fish and chips (Marcus Samuelson---a little messy I’d say) and banana pudding (Paula Dean---that figures!) However, I doubt any celebrity Chef from the former colonies will ever be asked to cook on such a very British day.



So what will they eat for the post wedding breakfast or the gala that night? Like the rest of the world, I---and you---will just have to stay tuned.


 In Honor of William and Catherine
 (Adapted from a recipe from The 2 Fat Ladies, 1998)

8 ounces poached chicken, minced
Mayonnaise to bind
Black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco to taste
20 slices Pepperidge farm white bread
10 thin slices of rare roast beef
       For the mustard butter:
12 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons of grainy mustard

For the mustard butter, beat all the ingredients together to a smooth paste.

For the Sandwich:
Mix the chicken and mayonnaise with a fork, season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Spread half the slices of bread with the mustard butter. Lay slices of rare roast beef over the mustard butter and spread with the chicken mixture. Add sprigs of watercress. Top with the remaining slices of bread to make sandwiches, trim the crusts and cut into dainty squares or triangles. 

Serve on a shiny silver platter festooned with silk ribbon.