The weather has played quite the see-saw. Freezing one day and way too warm the next. As I am typing this post, I am sitting in my living room with the balcony door open. The sun alternates from illuminatingly bright to sepia. I brewed a cup of tea and am savoring it with the last of my almond croissants. It is Sunday afternoon here. Last week a few happy souls and I celebrated my birthday, and a couple days after that we celebrated my brother’s birthday. January is a happy month–besides the birthdays, we also have Downton Abbey! (more on that in a bit).
On the counter lies open a recipe book featuring a carrot and olive oil cake. My project for this evening. Since this is Sunday it is Downton Abbey night. Alas, season three of the Downton drama has arrived (four weeks ago) upon our golden shores. Each night since the premiere I have baked a sweet to accompany a mug of tea (a cup won’t even last thirty minutes) for the show. As one New York Times writer noted, Downton Abbey is the intelligent people’s television. O…k…
I confess (quite readily and with much enthusiasm) that I’ve loved the show since its first airing in January 2011 (in the US). I appreciate the story, that the set and costumes are gorgeous is also a plus. What I love most of all is that the characters are uniquely their own, meaning each are distinct with their own quirks and storyline. There are characters I love, characters I tolerate, and characters I want to push into mud. Each are memorable. (Warning: spoiler alert ahead)
On opening night, since my home has unofficially become Downtown Abbey watch party central, we enjoyed the two hour season premiere with dark chocolate biscotti. Oh, and what a gem those biscotti were, studded with bits of chocolate chunks! Too hard to chew comfortably on their own, they are transformed into blissful perfection once dunked into a mug of steaming tea. As the biscuit soaks up the hot liquid, it crumbles gingerly into your mouth, releasing bits of melted chocolate. A perfect accompaniment to welcome Lady Cora’s mother to Downton and to celebrate Lady Mary’s wedding (finally!!).
For episode two I baked a chocolate tart. I know, right? Chocolate two weeks in a row. Well…one’s got to be led by inspiration, and apparently chocolate was inspiring me. The crust was made out of ginger snap crumbs. The chocolate filling consisted of melted chocolate in heavy cream beaten with eggs, sugar and vanilla and then baked. Very simple and very rich. In order to really let go and enjoy this tart, it had to be served as thin slivers. Yes, it was that rich. Oh, but poor Lady Edith! The richness of the tart softened the bitter blow (somewhat) of Lady Edith getting jilted on her wedding day. Poor Edith! That Sir Anthony!–and I so liked him in the beginning. In other news, we are quite relieved that all is well with Mrs. Hughes.
Episode three, the Irish son-in-law and former chauffeur , Tom Branson, had the nerve to leave his pregnant wife behind in Ireland and show up at Downton. Don’t you know Lord Grantham was livid. I baked a lemon-scented pound cake for the occasion. Good thing Lady Sybil got out of Ireland all right. That long, torturous silence between Anna and Mr. Bates was overdrawn, but we were glad that the issue that caused that was resolved by show’s end. Poor Mr. Bates, when is he going to be released? It looks like in the upcoming episodes Thomas may be on the prowl again.
One huge shift in season three thus far is that my affection for Ms. O’Brien has changed. Where once there was none, there now sparks a little something akin to tepid like.
Well, I best get a move on in the kitchen. Until next time!
All images © 2013 Sriprae P. McDonald