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Mayonnaise (12 Years After)
February 27, 2017
09:30 AM

Mayonnaise (12 Years After)

This is my very first blog.
Written 12 years ago yesterday.
A Lifetime !

I have always loved mayonnaise. Loved to eat it but I think even more loved to make it. Before I ever started to cook professionally I had read Elizabeth Davids inspiring essay on mayonnaise in French Provincial Cooking. I say essay very deliberately because, far from being just a recipe this two page treatise and hymn to mayonnaise tells you all about its history and the legends that surround its birth, but also of course, tells you how to make the stuff.
However the bit that inspired me is where she says
"I do not care, unless I am in a great hurry, to let it, (an electric beater)deprive me of the pleasure and satisfaction to be obtained by sitting down quietly with bowl and spoon, eggs and oil, to the peaceful kitchen task of concocting the beautiful shining golden ointment which is mayonnaise"

These poetic lines moved me instantly into mayonnaise manufacture.

There is something almost magical about mayonnaise everytime you make it.
Two entirely liquid ingredients, runny almost, when blended in a certain painstaking way can merge into such a thick unctuous, well... ointment.

My very first job was in a very chic basement restaurant called Snaffles in Leeson street in Dublin. This was run by an eccentric but essentially lovable ascendancy couple called Nick and Rosie Tinne. Rosie was at this time compiling her book "Irish Country House Cooking" (still available occasionally on the internet). The time was the very early seventies and I was in my very early twenties and very naive.

Rosie flew in the door of the kitchen one morning carrying a dozen crap splattered eggs, a large tin of Italian Olive Oil, and a huge wooden bowl and spoon.
"Maahtin, Maahtin! You MUST make some mayonnaise for me. I'm having a party tonight and I've got the curse, it ALWAYS curdles when I've got the curse!"
Needless to say I got over my shock and made her the mayo, and yes I made it in the wooden bowl with the wooden spoon as she had been taught to in her Cordon Blue school in Paris.

There was a lot of mystique about making mayonnaise though. I remember an aunt of mine doing something very complicated in a liquidizer which involved hard boiled eggs, cream and copious quantities of vinegar.

We mistrusted the simple and pure flavour of good eggs and olive oil in Ireland for a long time. (When my sister came back from an au pair job in Frejus in the late fifties, fired with the tastes of Provence, she discovered that Olive Oil was only available in minute bottles in Chemists shops and intended to promote suntans!)

Mayonnaise is perhaps the simplest of all sauces. I have often said in cookery classes that I can make a half pint of mayonnaise in much the same time as it would take you to find it in the Hellmans jar in the fridge - and I can!
I will follow Ms. David's proportions for making the "golden ointment"
This is my very first blog, written twelve years ago yesterday.
A Lifetime !

3 large Freerange Eggs at room temperature
300ml Good Olive Oil also at room temperature
(I don't always search out extra virgin oil for this)
Pinch Salt and grating of black pepper
1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

Beat the eggs thoroughly with the salt and pepper (I quite often use an electric hand held beater if none of my cooking mentors are looking)
Dribble in the oil, firstly drop by drop and then as the oil starts to thicken the yolks you can increase the rate to a thin stream and add the vinegar.
Again, I will quote Elizabeth David to tell you when to stop
"It should, if a spoonful is lifted up and dropped back into the bowl, fall from the spoon with a satisfying plop, and retain its shape, like a thick jelly"
this marvellous (and sensual) description is perfect.

Make your own mayonnaise, it tastes so much better and who knows, you too
might enjoy the process of making the "golden ointment".

To Mr. The president.
February 17, 2017
10:09 PM

To Mr. The president.

Brian Bilston ‏


inside his cranium
trying to find
a brain to rack,
he found the word
and launched
an unclear attack

09:10 PM


In 1996 Julian Barnes wrote "Cross Channel" -a book of short stories which were really a sort of love story to France.
One of the stories, "Hermitage", is about two English ladies of a certain age, a couple plainly, who,at the turn of the last century bought a vineyard in Bordeaux.
By this time the Canal de Midi was established for nearly two hundred years and this linked Bordeaux to the Languedoc and went right down to the Bouche de Rhone into the Mediterranean.
The ladies employed a vineyard manager who ran all the aspects of the business. They were surprised to discover that, after their first harvest, and in the dead of night, their unfermented grape juice was loaded into a barge and taken down the Canal. Some time later, also at night, a barge full of grape juice returned to be unloaded into their fermenting tanks in Bordeaux. When they asked their manager to explain he assured them that this is the way it has always been done, this they accepted happily and went on with their lives.
With the advantage of hindsight we now of course understand exactly what the man was about. The wines of France have always been priced according to Terroire rather than Cepage. Wines of Bordeaux, Clarets, have long commanded a primium price in France and in England this, it is probably fair to say, irrespective of their quality. Wines in the Languedoc- down the canal from Bordeaux- have the opposite reputation and were always extremely cheap, this also irrespective of quality. Barnes' guess (and remember this is a work of fiction) was that there could well have been clever substitutions made using the canal as the go-between.
There are times when, as I see great juggernaut wine tankers rumbling along the A9 in October, I wonder if, by chance, it could still be happening.

At St. Tropez
February 16, 2017
07:40 PM

At St. Tropez

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Paul Signac's Etude pour le Temps d'harmonie in l'Annunciade Museé in nSt Tropez.

Swedish Boarding House
January 28, 2017
08:24 AM

Swedish Boarding House

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Danish artist Bertha Wegmann

  Martin Dwyer
Consultant Chef