Thursday, 18 December 2014

Damien Trench’s Parkin and This Year’s Kitchen Music

It's about time that I paid due homage to the man widely recognised as this country's finest food writer and cook - Damien Trench. I believe that he'll be on the radio this Christmas and there's a rumour that he may grace our television screens at some point next year. I can't tell you how difficult it is to contain my excitement at the thought of it.

As a tribute to the great man I decided to make his recipe for parkin. I've hardly baked anything this year due to a lack of time and the fact that pretty much everybody I know is constantly on a diet, but surely I'm allowed at least one treat at this time of the year. I don't want to infringe Mr Trench's copyright by presenting his recipe in full but, suffice it to say, if you take this fine Tate and Lyle recipe, adjust the ratio of oatmeal and flour to favour the flour, adjust the milk up and the syrup down, use fresh rather than dried ginger and bake it for less time, then you’re pretty near it. I'm sure that the detailed recipe will appear in the next volume of Mr Trench's Diaries.
Parkin
But enough of this cake-based enjoyment. I'm afraid that we’re now faced with the grim inevitability of my annual self-indulgence in the music that I've loved in the kitchen for the last 12 months.  Sorry about that.

Once upon a time knowing what music to play when people came round for dinner was so much easier. These days there's just far too much choice. In the late 1970s if you played anything other than Fleetwood Mac then the police kept watch on your house. In the latter part of 1984 it briefly became illegal to have a gathering of more than 3 people without playing Sade's ‘Diamond Life’. So do I have a suggestion for music for a modern gathering? You might as well ask if Jamie Oliver likes to drizzle – of course I do. I'd suggest Woman’s Hour (the band not the radio programme) for any informal gathering. The music is assured, stylish and relaxed. Their excellent first album ‘Conversations’ was released this year.


If that leaves you with a need for more stylish and assured music, then try PHOX, who released their début album this year. There was also a fine album 'Days Of Abandon' by the excellently named The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. I can't resist including this little clip because it's exactly like most evenings round at my house.


There was some very fine, old-style song writing and singing from the Australian Stu Larsen on the album 'Vagabond'. (If you have some spare time for more fine song writing then please give the gentle album ‘Home’ from the tea-drinking Icelander Hafdis Huld a try.)


This year also saw the release of the ‘Lights Out’ album from Bishop Allen, a band that’s been a favourite of mine for a number of years now. And if that’s all too English language for you, then there’s always Tourista from Peru. But in line with a short-lived tradition, here's my  favourite French song of the year to end with - ‘Transhumance’ from the album ‘Hirundo’ by Dominique Dalcan.


I'm off for a relaxing cup of tea and a revivingly delicious piece of parkin. Oh my actual goodness as Mr Trench has been known to say.

11 comments:

  1. Great music choices, Phil.

    Now, a confession - I had never knowingly eaten Parkin till a couple of weeks ago. It's not something that immediately makes me go "I must make that" because I've always associated it with 'worthiness' (don't press me what I mean - it's not rational). But my friend brought some with her when they visited recently, and my goodness but it was good. My tastes have obviously matured. And my 11 year old son absolutely adores anything rich, treacley, gingery and delicious so I am going to have to get my baking tin out, I think,

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    1. To be honest I felt much the same way about parkin until I tried some. Somehow it just doesn't sound as good as it tastes. Mr Trench has been known to top his version of parkin with a mixture of double cream and mascarpone which takes it away from worthiness and into indulgence. Personally I think it's lovely just the way it is.

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  2. Like your music choices Phil, and the parkin sounds good. We love it plain too - don't fancy spoiling it with cream.
    Have a good Christmas.

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    1. Parkin would be the perfect thing to take on a crisp but sunny Christmas walk and so any topping is out for me. But I'm not going to argue with Mr Trench. I wouldn't have the nerve.

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  3. Happy New Year Phil!
    I have enjoyed your blog enormously in 2014 and look forward to many more fascinating posts and intriguing recipes.
    As a northern lass parkin was a frequent part of my mother's weekly bakeathon. I haven't made any myself for years so as a tribute to her and my grandmother I should put that right asap. It would be a lovely post Christmas treat, not too indulgent, almost arguably wholesome and good for us, just right for cold January teatimes.

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    1. Many thanks for the kind words. I think parkin is perfect for the winter, although I'd eat it just about any time.

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  4. Ahh, it's my annual lesson in music and much appreciated. I'm a complete dinosaur when it comes to music and just keep listening to the same old tracks. I've so enjoyed Damien Trench over Christmas and I suspect I'd enjoy his/your parkin too. Wishing you all the best for 2015, although I do hope you find a bit more time for baking ;-)

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    1. Since the new year and thanks to Mr Trench I find myself saying 'Yotam Ottolenghi' at odd moments just for the fun of it. I hope I can find some time for baking in the coming year too - fingers crossed.

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  5. Oh the irony, I had to turn off Woman's Hour so that I could listen to Woman's Hour. I enjoyed that second video very much. It was captivating. That steak on brioche in your latest blog looks very good indeed. I have been fiddling around with fresh mango sauces recently and I am going to give yours a try next. Thanks for the musical lift Phil, I enjoyed that little interlude.

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