Dr Frankenstein's Christmas Ball

Thursday 16/12/2004

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Diary and Notes

I'm coming home I've done my time,
And hope you think my bloggin's goin' fine,
If you think I could do better,
You can email just for free,
I'll write you back when crimbles done,
From my home in old Blighty...,
My home in old Blighty....

Where's Tony Orlando when you need him eh? Oh, there he is, just to the right.

It was party time at the MPI where I'm currently about to finish my three month sentence and I'll soon be off home. In honour of my greatness (and something to do with this being an annual thing, but I think they only said that so as I wouldn't be embarassed by their overt hero worship) they threw a huge party and everybody brought food. I was the guest of honour and they all cheered me 'Hip...Hip...Hip...Hussar!' in an old fashioned way.

So what delights were laid before me at this winter feast? Tasty things from all around the globe, made just in my honour, oh I almost blushed.

Firstly a great and mighty drink was laid before me; the feuerzaugenbowle. This is a traditional German event where you get an enourmous bowl filled with wine, juice and spices. A sugar loaf is suspended over the top and rum is poured on the sugar. The sugar is then lit and melts, dropping into the drink. It's very good winter booze and excellent theatre. There's even an old German comedy film from 1944 about it which I saw some weeks ago. The feuerzaugenbowle is one of those quaint local traditions that are hidden away within every culture that foreign visitors rarely get to see (a bit like mooning). As is the tradition with this drink, you have to watch old black and white films as you drink it, we had some Laurel and Hardy and The Bishops Wife and then everybody stood around and sang a song about how angels must sit on my shoulders and how I bring love and joy to all mankind.

And then the chamber orchestra began and we ate dinner.

If you went to a restaurant and read the list of dishes on the menu you might think that the chef was a trifle confused. An odd selection you might surmise, but this is because different people brought different things, traditional to their homelands. I was asked to bring curry and duly provided a murghi masalam. However, as I didn't eat my curry (it was all gone by the time I got there) I am not giving you the recipe and ruining my chance of having it again later this year. I did have some excellent borscht (not my favourite soup, but I think this was the best I've ever had), some superb Greek food, some vegetarian curries (actually made by someone from India this time, not me) a massive selection of cakes, pastries and sweet things and some liquid nitrogen ice cream filo balls, which my chum Kai made and roped me in for the stirring. I'll try and get a photo and post it here to show the beauty of science at work. It's a bit like Dr. Frankenstein (I was Igor) cooks for the people of the village. Smoke, gas and safety goggles. The liquid nitrogen makes the ice cream really cold so you can wrap it in very thin filo and fry it quickly. Bloody marvelous.

And then a choir of seraphim came and sang me songs, as normally happens to me in late December.

Happy Christmas to you all (or Hannukah) and I hope you'll be reading me again when the holiday is over.

Cake Blog

A very tasty apple cake from cafe Hemer (again with the Cafe Hemer) a bit like an apple and sultana, bread and butter pudding. Yum-scrum-diddly-umptious!


  • Borscht,
  • Mixed Salad,
  • Spanikopita,
  • Pasticchio,
  • Chick Pea Curry,
  • Rice,
  • Nitrogen Ice Cream Filo Balls

  • Maybe the odd glass of beer or two.


    My good chum Kai has sent me photos of his ice cream endeavours and a recipe for you lucky folks to have a go at yourselves. I've cut and pasted from his email:

    alpha FRUIT ice cream
    Ingredients (can be scaled to an infinitely large bowl of ice cream)
  • 3 parts of fruit (all kinds of berries are good, as they seem to contain enough pectine to stabilize the ice cream and guarantee a nice texture)
  • 3 parts of liquid, consisting to equal parts of milk (whole) and cream (30% fat)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 parts of sugar, depending on the fruit
    1) Take a large, preferably stainless steel bowl. The bowl should be filled no more than a third with your mixture. Keep a masher at hand that is strong enough to cope with your enthusiasm.
    2) In this bowl clean thoroughly 3 parts of fruit, preferably some kind of berries (I know that they grow some really wonderful raspberries in southern England), mash them into a homogeneous paste. Add at least 1 part of sugar, now. Pour 1 part of milk (full fat) and two parts of cream (double, or single, which ever has 30% fat) into the mixture.
    3) now add so much sugar, that the mixture is just too sweet for your liking (don't be too timid, here. When frozen your tongue will be benumbed by the cold ice-cream, so that the extra sweetness is needed for the taste.)
    4) Now, for each liter of ice cream, count in a liter of liquid nitrogen (Don't forget to take a bit more just for the show !) Pour a good glob of the liquid nitrogen onto the mixture and smash all the hard bits that form on the surface with the masher, but don't smash the masher.
    Keep doing so until the texture is that of perfect ice-cream. Be careful not to overdo it with the liquid nitrogen and add more of it rather carefully towards the end.

    beta) Vanilla ice-cream
    alternations for step 2):
    you will need (for 30 people)
  • 6 packs of vanilla sauce (not the instant one, but the one that needs to be cooked while preparing)
  • 2 1/2 liters of milk (whole)
  • 2 liters of cream
  • 9 packs of sugar with real bourbon-vanilla in it (if this cannot be obtained, take five pod of vanilla (or whatever you may call these crumpled black stripes of fresh vanilla) and strip them as you would normally do. Mix the contents with sugar. Do not throw away the empty rests, but boil them together with the milk.
  • 1 kg of white sugar

    Prepare the sauce as prescribed on the pack, but only with the 2 1/2 liters of milk. Add all the vanilla while boiling and let the mixture rest overnight. Fish out the vanilla pods and add two liters of cream. Now add the sugar and again, make the mixture really, really sweet. Proceed as above.