Sunday, 9 August 2015

Episode 10: Woman Clothed in the Sun

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forest of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Blake's "Woman Clothed in the Sun" 

Dolareba...or Dragonhyde?

In his most famous poem, Blake could be describing the Red Dragon as much as The Tyger. So it's not surprising that Dolarhyde - so enraptured with Blake’s paintings, would choose that animal for Reba.

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seized the fire?

Reba reveals her fascination and faith in Mr D when she embraces the tiger in one of the most romantic moments in Hannibal. (In light of the recent Dentist vs Cecil the Lion incident, don’t you think it’s uncanny that Dolarhyde's tiger is out cold at the dentist?) And how magnificent Reba is as the woman clothed with the sun! You almost believe she could redeem Dolarhyde's soul.

Blake's "Woman Clothed With the Sun"

Get the selfie stick...there's a tiger passed out in the studio!

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand, & what dread feet?

For about a week, our “puppet” tiger lay about the studio on a slab in the zoo lab set which gave dozens of crew opportunity to sneak selfies with him. Not me, though. This food stylist would never inflict such jokey indignities on an animal, taxidermied or otherwise. Well actually, we did try to feed him a muffin from the craft service table. But he wouldn’t take it...he must have heard us mutterings about crew food.

This is Dolarhyde's episode so there is no food for me to serve up this week - the only thing he eats is the Blake painting. Stephen Levitt, our intrepid props master, sourced edible rice paper from a company in Buffalo, New York. He had to drive to Niagara Falls to get the blank paper then have it printed in Toronto with edible ink on an inkjet printer. When we shot the scene, Richard Armitage wanted to get it perfect so he ate a real paper print as well. And that's why we love him.

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Well, did he, Hannibal?
Blake's "Ancient of Days (God as Architect)"

OK Hannibal's not cooking enough

A girl's gotta eat, so I've been sneaking around doing little food styling jobs for with the other devils, time-shifters and super heroes who are shooting around town:

For DAMIEN I made some gnarly roots out of bread dough and
ugly shoots from marzipan to "grow" out of victim's mouth
I had fun making posh dinners for SUlClDE SQUAD
Here,  have a little shrimp cocktail.
Billionaire devil-worshippers have to eat too, so I did this dinner for DAMIEN
We set our work station up in this smart tented area just off the pool. Very GBBO!

Roast "Venison" that I made out of seitan for HEROES REBORN
(It had to be non-meat for the vegan director)
And I was asked to make candy iPhones for Stephen King's 11/22/64
Below: Pouring black sugar candy for glass screens. The backs are marzipan. 

Plus bizarre alien fungus food I made from marzipan for EXPANSE

And all the while, YOU are busy making beautiful Hannidinners! YAY!

Blood-streaked and delicious - made by budding chef, Nicolas E
Another gorgeous plate by Nic E - check the ffffava beans up ffffront

For his wife's birthday Justin F made Sanguinaccio Dolce for the whole family.
And served it in true Hannibal style wearing a 3-pc suit and paisley tie!

Smashed glass impaled heart cake created by Bridget M as a
tribute to the Season 2 finale
She does lots of Hannidinners - documented on her blog

Next week: Just hide under the bed and scream yourself to sleep... 

all content except contributors' Hannidinners copyright of Janice Poon/Feeding Hannibal 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Episode 9: Woman Clothed With the Sun


Will's new dog

Ate my opening poem.

Nothing to put here.


Peeking at the sets and poking around the studio 

As the food consultant on Hannibal my job is to create the food you see on screen. But as part of the Hannibal team, we are all immersed in the each other's creative stew - there is so much to admire. It starts with the scripts which are so beautifully written. Then every time I come to set, I am awestruck by the beauty of the components that the various departments create. They often go unseen. Mrs Jacobi's murder scene has nothing to do with the food but it is so striking that I want to show it to you here:

First the script where it all starts:
This episode was written by Helen Shang and Jeff Vlaming

 Then the source material is considered:

Blake's painting : Woman Clothed with the Sun

Then the Art Department makes a concept sketch:
The set decorator will follow this drawing to create the set, the costumer to make Mrs Jacobi's robes and hair and make-up to add their part on the actor to create the dramatic tableau

Then the set is built, decorated and actors prepared
The lighting department gets to work

And then they shoot it 
But the lighting is so dark that you can't see anything anyway. But never mind...take my word for it - it's spectacular. Now, on to the food!

Keep your fork...there's going to be pie!

Wow, previously luckless Francis Dolarhyde sees a glimmer of good. He has met Reba and a flicker of love lights his darkness. If anyone can pull his soul back from the edge of evil, it would be she. Her metaphorical offering: a fresh whole cherry pie that welcomes love’s plunging knife. I’ve always said that you can get anything you want with a well-made home-baked pie. There is magic in that confection and it speaks directly to the heart.
Plenty of pies for Reba to cut

By the way, if you wondered why Reba sticks a toothpick in the centre of the pie, it’s so she can use it as a knife guide to tell where the centre is: all radial cuts from there will create a complete wedges.

Prepping platters for the dinner.
BTW, the numbers written on the table are for when we have a big party scene with tons of extras as party guests. Each extra has a glass that has to be refilled for each take, so each extra has a number and their glass goes on the corresponding spot on the props drinks table so everyone gets the right glass back.

Get Granny Dolarhyde's dinner on the table -- or else!

Now that Hannibal is in jail, the food scenes are limited so there isn’t much cooking for me to do. Thank goodness this episode’s script calls for a flashback of Dolarhyde as a boy having dinner with Gramma Snaggletooth and her crusty tenants. I am tasked with making a dinner of bad boardinghouse food. What??!! Ugly food? You want me to make unappetizing dinner for 10? Impossible.
Lining up the reset plates for Granny's dreadful dinner
Nevertheless, of course I swallow my art heart and do what is right for the scene. I compose a menu of greyish mush: tuna salad, mushroom macaroni casserole, boiled cauliflower with fava beans, pyrogies in sour cream and onions. This is way harder than anything Hannibal might have cooked up. Making up the platters, my hand reaches out to embellish, fluff and decorate. NO, hand, no! No garnishing today!

Hey, did someone drop their dental plate in the vegetable dish?

One bit of fun I had: throwing giant pozole corn into the cauliflower fava bean dish. I thought they looked just like snaggley teeth.

Giant white corn "teeth" sprinkled in the vegetable dish.

Dreary storm...a long night at the Dolarhyde's 

This was one of those shoots: a cold dark Toronto night. Gobs of food to schlepp – tons of dishware to fill. The set looked musty and dusty. The food looked worse. The extras holding area was set up facing my cooking station. So the actors who were playing the seniors at the dinner slumped in these chairs between takes and watched our every move as if they were front row at a tedious avante-garde play.  Victoria, my assistant and I worked the whole night under the unamused glare of 16 glazed, bored, crabby eyes. The only break we got was an unexpected power failure when the entire building was plunged into darkness and everyone had to file out to the winter night. The crew moved on and shot the bus stop scene outside while we lounged in the craft truck waiting for the lights to come back on indoors.

On the plus side, it was my first time on set with Richard Armitage who is thoroughly charming and courteous. As well as the sweet actor who played Granny Dolaryde who was warm and bubbling with youthful exuberance until she was on camera and transformed instantly to a hollow-eyed evil harpy.

Those Dolarhydes…I guess every family is weird in its own little way.

On a lighter note: wasn't it fun to have Freddie back? Even if I didn't do a food scene with her!

LaraJean Chorostecki in the snow

Next week: Becoming a Dragon doesn't require fine dining. 

More of Bedelia and her history with her mysterious dead client to look forward to!
Reba and Francis get to know each other really well. I mean really really well.
Hannibal is helpful, then NOT HELPFUL.

With all this going on, who's got time to eat? Or cook?

I'll take this time off to do some work for other shows around town: Suicide Squad, Damien, Heroes, 11/23/64 and see what the other special agents, devils and superheros are up to. I'll show you the results - and some more Hannidinners cause although Hannibal is in jail, that hasn't stopped you from cooking!

All material copyright of Janice Poon/Feeding Hannibal, except Blake painting of course and photo of LJ Chorostecki which is from Far, Far Away site. All other photos are by Victoria Walsh/Feeding Hannibal

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Episode 8 The Great Red Dragon

Vide cor muem 

When you see the beauty of my heart

You no longer see the beast

Blood-red black in black of night. 

Empowered by the moon

But longing to burn in the fire of the sun.

Vide cor meum “See my heart” is from Dante’s sonnet to Beatrice, his unrequited true chivalric love (why are these objects of epic love always called Beatrice?). He only saw her twice but was devoted to her long after her death.
Dante and Beatrice before the Eagle of Justice (c1450)

Eating your heart with flaming lips  

According to Benjamin Daniels, Dante, in a dream “sees the vision of Love holding a woman (Beatrice) who is wrapped in a veil. Love says, "I am your master." In one of Love's hands there is a heart on fire and he says to Dante, "Vide cor tuum: See your heart". Then Love wakes Beatrice and feeds Dante's burning heart to her which she reluctantly eats. Love, then, becomes very sad and takes Beatrice with him up toward heaven.”

Vide cor meum, the Musical 

At the request of  Dino DeLaurentiis, Vide cor meum was written by Irish composer Patrick Cassidy for the film, Hannibal. It was to be the aria sung at an opera attended by Lecter and Pazzi and was used at the end of our season one and two.

While we are in Florence portion of the Memory Palace, let's enjoy Botticelli’s painting of Fortitude one of the Seven Virtues. He painted this, one of his first important commissions when he was 24. Hannibal sketches it with Alana’s face.
Fortitude by Botticelli

Art, art, art. Where's the beef? 

I tell you all of this because there is not much to say about the food in this episode. Why I hardly had to run around at all! Because it’s all hopeless.

This time I had to fake the white Alba truffles Here they are made out of plastecine and cocoa

Truffle Surprise

White truffles are no longer in season and I really can’t believe I spent over $700 on fresh truffles a month ago when we shot a scene where Alana shows Verger all the luxury comestibles that Hannibal is consuming in Italy.  They were barely seen. (Dark….far away…out of the frame) Now there’s a truffle close-up and the truffle-hunting boars have all left the building. So I have to make one out of modeling clay and cocoa. I have some truffle oil that I rub on it so that Mads will get something to sniff at in the scene and really, no one is the wiser. 
Yet another out-of-season request from the writers' room.

But how about a chilled glass of beer with good old Alana?

In that same scene there’s only wine now, not beer which the Old Alana used to love. But now having been thrown from a window, Involved in fratricide, got a girlfriend and still-birthed a baby, she is the New Alana. Cool, wiser, tougher -- not up for the infatuated three-ways of her youth.
Remember back in Season One, having a beer with Hannibal in his kitchen? Times were simpler then...
Speaking of beer, the Doubters have been voicing concerns that beer does not have anything remotely people-ish in the recipe. Well, I don’t know much but I do know that recipes were meant to be altered.
Sweet bliss of innocence enjoys a tall cool one
This image borrowed from
I always thought that Hannibal had barrel-aged his beer for Alana in an oak wine barrel that had previously held body parts (eau de Mirium Lass’ arm?) but if you have any suspicions that he would stop at that, just check out these few breweries for the possibilities: Walking Dead tribute by craft beer-maker Dock Street:

This fine craft beer is made with smoked goats' brain to celebrate the Walking Dead. And cranberries of course for a nice red colour.

Drippy, sticky, scary but delicious

And Right Brain Brewery’s Mangalitsa Pig Porter made from pig faces. A nice accompaniment to Verger Stew.
Porter.  Pig parts. Party.

OK ...who's been in my beer stash?

Meat me half-way...

Another possibility, albeit remote (oh, the first three recipes aren’t?) is that Hannibal could have made glycerine from bones, cartilage and fatty tissues of his victims by boiling them to render the fat and collagen. Then, to extract the glycerine, he would have boiled the fat with lye and salt then strained off the glycerine that separates out. (what remains is soap) He would add the glycerine to his beer to add a velvety texture to the beer and to stabilize it so it keeps longer. But this is not likely since glycerine is not something you would add to a quality hand-crafted beer.

Sanguinaccio with Ladyfinger biscuits and fresh berries

But don't get me wrong, there was a food scene

Bryan Fuller, our genius showrunner/creator/god wanted to show that Hannibal could still have a gracious life in prison. Feeding Dr Chilton was one way of maintaining his pattern of sensuously cooking to classical music and serving Dinner with a Speech. So we had to do something that was simple to make but beautiful. Writers Nick Antosca and Steve LIghtfoot did a lot of practical research eating out in LA and found Sanguinaccio Dolce on a menu of one particularly posh place. It is an old Italian recipe that calls for fresh blood and dark chocolate cooked in milk. 
Soundies sampling sanguinaccio on set - Ao and Sean

Everyone loved it, not the least because it references "Blood and Chocolate" a horror movie from a decade ago that stars a very young Hugh Dancy as a graphic novel writer who gets involved with a werewolf (Kids these days -- what are you gonna do?).

Chris Hargadon, Head of Costumes holding Red Dragon's silk robe
Of course rest of this season is all about the Red Dragon. And although he has the teeth to chew his way through anything I could concoct, I am sad to say he’s more into tattoos than tasty treats.  So I give up. Here’s a lovely picture of his robe – since I know you were inspecting it closely and annoyed that he dropped it to reveal his muscled inked posterior. 

For those of you who would like a closer look. (Hey, eyes, my robe is up here ^)

Robeless Red Dragon

By the way, I can see why Richard Armitage has such a loyal fan base. Not only is he a gifted and dedicated actor, he is a wonderful man. All the crew adored him - especially Hair Department's - talented Karola Dirnberger and Make-up's sweet Katie Brennan. (Hello: daily tattoo application/removal)

NEXT WEEK: Dinner at the Dolarhydes’. Keep your fork – there’s pie.

stole this carved watermelon dragon right off This is Colossal

Hannidinners: Too many to post but a few select ones from Australia

Thank you Aussieannibals! I will plug in your names as soon as I get them from eOneANZ.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Episode 7: Digestivo

I don’t find you that interesting...

 A bullet inscribed

I won’t miss you

Hits its mark.

The pain, a chill.

 You will.

Poor Will. Death by a thousand cuts – it’s six hundred sixty-six and counting. He’s been beaten, shot and thrown from a train, sawed in the brain* and operated on without anesthetic.  Reading the latest script is draining to say the least. As the bodies hang upside down...I can barely read on.

The last page of the script breaks the bad news 

This is where Hannibal goes to jail.

We all knew Hannibal would end up in the Big House. It’s right there in Thomas Harris’ books and the Hannibal movies. It has been the only thing I have feared more that a brain-eating scene because, as every food stylist knows, there are no smart dinner parties in jail. Unless you’re like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas...faint hope for that.
Mafia meals in jail with Ray Liotta (Goodfellas)

More oysters; more flavour

So I make the most of my one food scene: Verge feeding oysters to Hannibal – in the same way that Hannibal fed Bedelia with his own tastes in mind, not hers. Verger is fattening Hannibal up so he can eat him.

Getting Oysters and Salsa ready for Mads
I decide upon Oysters Rockefeller for this scene because Cordell would think that dish to be quite posh when really, it’s a bit over-produced to bake oysters (which are best eaten raw) in that rich Pernod-scented sauce – and pretentious because Rockefeller was nowhere near the chef or his New Orleans restaurant in 1899 when the dish was invented as a substitute for hard-to-get escargots. (Maybe they all went to Hollywood to get jobs as background snails in Episode 1 to 4.)

If not Now, then When?

Odd to find this in the kitchen sink? Not really. It's Hannibal.

Head Table

What would be perfect for a Hog Magnate’s table? A showy roasted pig head centrepiece. I don’t want to make it too lovely – in spite of his confidence and workmanship, Cordell’s cooking is not and never could be as exquisite as Hannibal’s.  I garland the glazed pig head simply with cauliflower and sausages (or overcooked penises – however you prefer to perceive them) to make the point. But I can’t resist wreathing Ms Piggy’s forehead with a pepper and radish flower crown as a wink to Fannibals.

Speaking of Miss Piggy, Hannibal writer Angelina Burnett tweeted this gem: BBHMM. Who would have thought Kermit could take on Mads' role with such aplomb.
A flower crown for Verger's Roast Pig's head

Yes, that fat-testing knife thing that Verger did to Hannibal is a real thing.

Pig farmers used to stab a very sharp knife into the back of the live pigs to measure the thickness of their backfat. The fat is much softer than the muscle so the farmer could tell by the resistance to the knife where the fatty layer ended and the muscle tissue began.

Although Google will tell you that modern pig farmers now use MRIs to measure fat, I suspect there might be a bit of this knife-in-the-back thing still going on as I can’t imagine most profit-minded factory farms and feed lots are willing to pay the high cost of fat analysis by MRI. Why are we so cruel to the animals we raise as food? Is it because we fear if we cared for them we wouldn’t want to eat them? Especially pigs which are very smart animals – much smarter than the dogs we so cherish.

I swear, this show is turning me into a vegetarian.

And reading this book hasn’t helped.
Great new book by Mark Essig on the history of pigs and pork

Everyone should have an insane Fairy Godmother with a rifle-wand.

Chiyoh is making pheasant pie out of everyone this episode. The girl is everywhere with that shotgun. She’s like Inspector Clouseau’s Cato, jumping out to assassinate people when least expected. Or an omnipresent one-woman cavalry. There was a crazy fight scene in Sogliari’s  elevator between Chiyoh and Jack that was scripted but unfortunately, wasn’t shot due to time issues. It would have been so much fun to see. I just love Jack when he gets mad. (USE THE LADIES ROOM!!!) Another reason we need Season 4 - to see Jack go mano a mano with everybody in the cast.

One of my early layouts for Hannibal cookbook proposal with Hiroshiga woodcut "Pearl diver"
Earlier in the cookbook planning, I wanted to make an octopus recipe for Murasaki because I would use any excuse to show my favorite Ukiyo-e by Hokusai that illustrates an ancient poem about a pearl diver's encounter with an octopus father and son. But then Murasaki became Chiyoh and now she's indelible as our very own crack-shot pheasant hunter. So now, a  recipe for Chiyoh Pheasant Pie is in the works. Which reminds me – I must end here and get back to work on that cookbook as I’m reporting in to Titan Publishing next week.

Next week:  Meeting the Red Dragon will shock, astonish and exhaust you so you’ll need something sweet…even if it’s made from blood.

Hannidinners are all Australian this week

It's all part of last month's contest from The which I am judging this week and will post results after Episode 8 for all of you to enjoy.

 *thank you Stevi Deter for that "train-brain" couplet you live-tweeted yesterday

All content copyright of Janice Poon and Feeding Hannibal. Photos by Victoria Walsh/Feeding Hannibal