À la recherche du temps perdu: cakes and carrots

No madeleine (surely the most-overworked cake in literary history), but a taste for that Augustinian —  and the need to feed the Lady in his Life and the Pert Young Piece — drove Malcolm back to the Stag.

The Augustinian was off. Instead, the offerings were not only St Austell Proper Job, which Malcolm knew well and had relished in joints such as the Harbourside Inn in Charlestown (that’s the Cornish one), but … hello! … something different!

Old Daily Gold Top

Here is an indicator of how one trend in the great British beer revival is going.

The presentation and the advertising are helpful clues:

This fine recipe gives a beer that will appeal to ale drinkers and lager drinkers alike.

“…so light, you could mistake it for fine lager!”

Well, only if you’d ruined any remaining taste-buds on mass-market froth.

The Old Dairy is located where the depths of Kent are about to tip over into East Sussex. It’s kind of the centre-point of a roughly equilateral triangle made up of Sandhurst (no, not the one for the military types), Sissinghurst (for the gardeners) and Tenterden (the birthplace of printer Caxton and TV-man David Frost). In short, this locality is about as couth and twee as anywhere in England. Just what the day-trippers from the Pas de Calais are expecting.

The brewery is a ten-barrels-a-week micro-brewery — that’s significantly less than 3,000 pints, so you’re not going to find it swilling around too readily. Moreover, the Old Daily boasts some ten brews, several only seasonal, in its recipe-book. The one you’re most likely to meet is Red Top, a simple, honest Best Bitter at 3.8%. And you’ll most easily find it in bottles.

So Gold Top on draught, well off its home patch in East Finchley, counts as a distinct, and worthwhile “find”.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

There’s that note of agreement on the ever-present topic of Greene King Abbot from gingerfightback.

Which leads into another of those coincidences that plague Malcolm’s life (as much as they provide the unlikeliest of plot-devices for Dickens’ novels).

For our gingerfightback uses a cute gravatar (as right).

The coincidence is that Malcolm had just cleared out his ever-burdensome spam file, where one “sell” had been:

Not the best post unfortunately. Sorry to be so blunt. You should try some Norwegian carrot cake (gulrotkake) to cheer you up instead.

Ah, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless critic!

Malcolm can cope with a bit of elementary etymology: so kake (which is straightforward Middle English) and rot (right out of any of the old Scandinavian tongues) are easy. Anyway, gulrot has its own Norwegian wikipedia page. Which leaves only the “gul-” element. Yet gules is heraldic red, and here the OED goes in for a bit of speculation:

The ulterior etymology is disputed: the word coincides in form with the plural of the French and medieval Latin word for ‘throat’. If the heraldic sense be the original, the allusion may be to the colour of the open mouth of a heraldic beast. It seems more likely, however, that the heraldic use is transferred from the sense ‘red ermine’, in which case the word may represent some oriental name; but the suggestion of derivation < Persian gul , rose (Hatzfeld & Darmesteter), is very improbable.

In any event gulrotkake, taken out of context, sounds as unpleasant as one might wish. After which the criticism seems mere spiteful jealousy at Malcolm’s art, perhaps sort of perverted  vegetable love …  Vaster than empires, and more slow. [Irony alert!]

Particularly so, since Alan in Belfast provided Slugger O’Toole with a particularly tortuous and sinister New Year political insight into carrots.

So, it’s as well Malcolm has the recollection of Proper Job and Gold Top (a quart of each) as a comforter.


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Filed under Beer, blogging, Britain, fiction, Literature, London, Military, pubs, reading, Slugger O'Toole, travel

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