Last night I did The Favorite meal #3 with Lalena Dolby. She chose her favorite to be the artist and personality extraordinaire Florence Broadhurst. Florence was Australian by birth. In her early twenties, she was known as Miss Bobby Broadhurst, traveling from Asia to India to Western Europe. In 1926, she opened the Broadhurst Academy, a finishing school for girls in Shanghi. In 1933, she moved to London under the name Madame Pellier, a fashionista who opened a dress shop on the infamous New Bond Street. She had married London aristocracy, but by 1949 she was divorced, re-attached, had a child, and moved back to Australia under the guise as British aristocracy.
(Lalena found this dress for this meal, how perfect!)
In 1959, she opened her wallpaper company. It wasn't until later in life (she was at this point in her early 60's) that she went the path of design." There is debate as to whether she actually drew any of the patterns herself, but clearly she had an eye for talented people—hired many, paid them very little, took full credit." (Vanity Fair 04.2007) She was a shrewd business woman, however it was said that her factory was incredibly hip for it's day. Artists, designers, and craftsmen working side by side, a radio always blaring, parties springing up intermittently in the evenings, and celebrities popping in to see the infamous warehouse space. She was a force, energetic and magnetic that despite her low wages and hard-nosed work ethic, people gravitated towards her because she exuded her energy all around and somehow made it fun. (I could go on and on about this woman, she was absolutely fascinating! You can find more articles on her here, here, and here if you'd like to read on. I know I did! She also has a book written on her, beautifully done, here. )
(wall texture detail)
Naturally, in order to truly evoke Florence at this meal, I had to recreate one of her beautiful patterns (and there are over 500 of them, it was amazing going through and just looking at many of them!). It dawned on me that I needed to recreate a pattern out of food, on a wall, big, bright, and beautiful, just like Miss Broadhurst (her hair was really that orange color for the last 25 years of her life). I decided on the horse pattern. Actually, I felt the horse pattern. It just stuck and when I came to the end of looking through and studying all her patterns, I puttered around with a few other ideas, but the horses were what called me. It's that power, that force, and the way the horses morph into one another that resonated with me and I think, with Florence.
Licorice was the perfect medium because of it's synthetic quality and all around fakeness. (There is nothing real about Twizzlers pull 'n' peels, ha.) And Miss Broadhurst's life was not all around genuine. She did not exactley live 'honestly', turning herself into many different people as times changed and new opportunites arose. She once said "I live in perpetual amazement at the gullibility of my fellow creatures,"quoting author HG Wells. However, this fakeness was her reality, this was just how she did things which is awe inspiring and deserves recognition in and of itself.
I also made quite an array of foods. Portland, it seems, is over run with one big cold. Everyone has one or is getting one! Lalena has been getting over one, so my inital idea of making amazing cocktails and smoking cigaretts (althgouh neither of us smoke, but the idea was funny and resonated somehow with Florence!) I decided to go a subtler and more nourishing route. So, I made Tom Yum lemongrass soup (to evoke all the asian inspired living and traveling Miss Broadhurst did, as well as help cure a cold) and Hot Toddy's with thick slices of ginger, lemon, a heaping spoonful of local honey and a shot or two of St. Remy's brandy in a slightly steeped Earl Grey tea. Then, for dessert I made Fairy Bread. Fairy Bread is an austrailian treat they serve to children on birthdays and special occasions. All it is is white bread, buttered, and sprinkles thrown on top. That's it. I thought it was PERFECT for Florence. I could see her on the morning of her son's birthday, forgetting it was his birthday, and whipping up a plate of this bread because it is so quick and easy. It's also a really fake 'food'.
(Tom Yum Lemongrass Soup)
While sipping our Hot Toddy's and Lemongrass Soup, Lalena and I chatted about the whirwind life Florence had. And how her life did not end with her tragic murder in her wallpaper warehouse. In fact, her life has spurred on people to really embrace what they want from life and do it with passion. Her prints and patterns are being re-constructed and re-produced by a New Zeland designer and pattern company but also being used by fashion houses around the world. We both agreed that we were inspired by her ability to just do it, getting it done with absolute grace and style.
Tom Yum Soup (Goong, Talay, Pla-Meuk)
* 1/2 pound medium sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
* 1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
* 4 cups water
* 2 stalks of lemon grass (~10″ long)
* 4-6 kaffir lime leaves
* 3 small red onions cut into quarters
* 1 medium to large tomato
* 4 small pieces galangal
* 18 straw mushrooms, whole
* 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 1/2 limes, squeezed
* 1 teaspoon of white sugar
* 2-8 red and/or green chili peppers
* 1 tablespoon tom yum soup paste
1. Cut the lemongrass stalks into 2″ pieces.
2. If you are using Tom Yum paste you can use 2 tablespoons instead of making your own stock with tshis step. It will cut down on time necessary… Stock: Add the shrimp heads and shells to water, then cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Soak heads and shells for 20 more minutes before removing from broth.
3. Add stock, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili padi, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili paste to a pot and bring to a boil. After boiling for 5 minutes, add tomato and onion. In 5 more minutes add shrimp and mushrooms. Cook another 10 minutes. For presentation you can garnish with coriander.
Sizeable piece of ginger, cut up into big chunks
1 lemon, sliced
1 heaping tablespoon honey
1-2 shots nice brandy
1 teabag (English Breakfast, Earl Gray)
Steep hot water, lemon, ginger, honey together for five minutes, add the shot(s) of brandy and serve.
Fairy Bread (google this, it is pretty interesting!)
Slices of white bread
Butter the bread, sprinkle on the sprinkles, slice off the crusts, cut into triangles and serve.