For Steve and I, Christmas is (mainly) about the food. We spent our first Christmas together in a self catering cottage on a wolf sanctuary near the gastronomical mecca known as Ludlow. We took a big box of kitchen implements and cooked and dined in every night.
This Christmas Eve, we brunched on Omelette Arnold Bennett. I clipped the recipe from The Guardian a couple of years ago and we’ve been waiting for a special occasion to try it out. According to Nigel Slater:
“The writer Arnold Bennett was so delighted with the egg, smoked haddock and parmesan concoction that chefs at the Savoy created for him, he insisted on it being made wherever he travelled. And at the Savoy, Omelette Arnold Bennett remains a standard dish to this day.”
Here’s Nigel’s recipe:
For the fish, simmer 200g of smoked haddock in 250ml of milk,
drain it and break it into large, juicy flakes.
Use the milk left behind after cooking the haddock to make
a white sauce with 40g of butter and 3 lightly heaped tbsp of flour.
Fold in the flaked haddock and 3 tbsp of finely chopped curly parsley.
Put 30g of butter into an omelette pan, warm it gently, then add 6 lightly beaten eggs.
When the omelette is ready, add the sauce,
scatter over a small handful of grated parmesan and grill until bubbling.
Makes one very large, deep omelette, 30cm in diameter (it will serve 2 or 3), or two smaller ones.
It being Christmas Eve and all, we broke open a bottle of Prosecco served in our wolf flutes to accompany our brunch.
But, who is Arnold Bennett? An English writer (27 May 1867 – 27 March 1931), best known as a novelist, but he also worked in other fields such as journalism, propaganda and film. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, a stone’s throw from my husband’s birthplace, Newcastle-under-Lyme. In fact, Steve started reading ‘Tales of the Five Towns’, a collection of short stories published in 1905, a few weeks ago. But he didn’t finish it due to boredom.
Apparently, Arnold was a prolific writer. Quantity, not quality?? Caricaturist Oliver Herford penned this verse and caricature of Arnold Bennett in Confessions of a Caricaturist, 1917.
‘Tis very comforting to know
That every other day or so
A Book by Bennett will appear
To charm the Western Hemisphere.
I see him now, with zeal sublime,
Pounding from dawn to dinner-time
Four typewriters, with hands and feet.
When the four novels are complete,
He’ll fold, and send à grande vitesse
His Quadrumanuscript to press.