Sunday, 18 May 2014

Episode 12 Tome wan

Endless loop

Swimming slipping surging

Never reaching the end.

Only a quantum leap

Will take you

To the other side.


Renewed.

This episode is named for Tome wan, the penultimate course of a Kaiseki dinner. A simple  miso soup with rice, it signifies the end of the meal. Just desserts will follow.


My concept sketch for the food for episode 12
Our on-set continuity photo for resetting the plates

Prepping for episode 12

     Now we are getting so close to shooting the last episode, everyone can taste the end. No more late nights shooting overtime, no more standing out in the freezing snow “going again” (doing another take), no more dragging your tired souless body into the sound stage for early call; no more trolling the craft table for junk food to cut the tedium of waiting for your scene. The work is exciting, challenging and the camaraderie is wonderful but we are exhausted. I saw a guy fall asleep mid-step and crumple to the floor as he was walking toward the set - now that's tired...

Getting the food ready for the scene

But no rest yet.

   I have just opened the draft script and as I read, the little alarmist homunculus in my head starts running laps in its ninth ring of hell (or how ever many there are). Is this a terrible joke Jose and Bryan are playing on me? You know it’s not nice to toy with the food stylist. She has sharp pointy things she can hurl at offenders when rage is the only answer...

Imagine an evil stepmother asking for:


Property Gaumont International

Chopping up a boar's head for the "roiling broth"made of suspicious-looking long bones and other bits
     You can probably guess that fresh anchoveta (Peruvian anchovies) are impossible to find from January to April which is their off-season. We will have to settle for Mediterranean anchovies which are dribbling in to market now that it’s February. 

I read on…it looks like a twisted dwarf has joined forces with the evil stepmother and is asking for:


Property Gaumont International

What??? A swirl of small fish!!!! 
Property Gaumont International

 In the shape of a Mobius strip!!!

   Are you kidding? A Mobius strip? I throw my hands up and decide I will use fake anchovies – made by the model-maker and wire them together. That is, until he tells me they will be $47 each. EACH?? I need about 100.

Prepping the platters in the studio for the Kholodets dinner scene

Surprise, the prop master says NO. 


     "What about those small preserved bait fish we used in the trout fishing scene", the Prop Master suggests. He sends me a package. Other than being smallish for anchoveta, they look great. And it says “organic” on the bag. So I won't kill anyone who accidentally licks the jelly mould.

     But they are rigid and it takes a lot to wrestle them into anything that looks like a Mobius strip. Plus they smell funny and I start to grow suspicious of how food-safe they are. Not that anyone is going to eat them – after all, fish eat them and it’s OK to eat the fish that eat them. But just to be sure, I phone the manufacturer. The woman on the phone enthuses about how safe they are to eat and I ask her to send me an email stating such. 

     Unfortunately, the follow-up email her boss sends says “do NOT place these bait fish in nor anywhere near food that is going to be consumed." 

Then a revision comes in -- the coup de grace:

  

     Mads is going to cut through the Kholodets so the anchovies can’t be wired together, and…
Property Gaumont International

…so it all has to be edible.


     My assistant says, “What about marzipan – it worked great with the ortolans.” No, unless marzipan comes in dappled silver. I can’t paint them because the gelatin just sucks the colour right off the marzipan. Anyway, marzipan melts in gelatin. I don’t even have to do tests on that because I previously had a bad trip making Jello “Acid” Shots – a dessert treat I had suggested for a wild party scene in an episode of “Warehouse 13”. That’s how I learned that sugar pills melt in Jello.


It’s just not possible. 

     But this is the film industry and  “impossible” is not an acceptable answer. So I decide to use Greek anchovies. There is only one fish dealer in the whole city that has them and they are in terrible shape but I manage to get 50 good ones. I gut and pickle them (like white anchovies) so they will not go bad in the Kholodets. I’m not saying they will taste good. I’m just saying they won’t go bad. I’ll use chicken in the main part of the Kholodets which will be – although not yummy, at least edible.

     Now I just have to figure out how to wrestle these tiny pickled fish into a Mobius strip suspended in aspic. I try suspending them from wires like puppets. They slip off. Then I try gelling them in a long narrow strip then flipping the strip to make it Mobius. They flop out.


Only the nose knows, but here's a tip...

   In between all this, the Prop Master is phoning me for suggestions of what to use Michael Pitt's nose-eating scene. I send him off to the West-Indian stores to look for souse and the Chinatown markets to look for pig jowls. He calls me from the various shops elated with the huge selection available - a revelation in pork product for a nice Jewish boy. Of course in the end, they use marzipan - the food stylist's miracle food.

Buddha bungzu!

     While I'm staring into middle space my gaze falls on a stack of foil stove element liners. OMG!! Perfect for my Mobius fish strip!!!! 
Anchovies strapped to the foil stove liner


     I clip and twist the foil rings into Mobius strips and, using wires and disappearing thread, strap on the pickled anchovies as if they were midway suckers on a Tilt-a-whirl. I pop the whole assembly in the freezer – because as anyone who has ever tried to chip one shrimp out of a bag of frozen ones knows, everything sticks together when you freeze it. Then, when the anchovies are frozen solid, I peel off the foil and lower them into the waiting jelly moulds. Yay! Next!!



One of the twelve Kholodets we made to do the scene

A literary zakuski, Hannibal-style


     What else will I put on the table for Hannibal’s Kholodets? I figured it’s a perfect centerpiece for a zakuski dinner, that lavish legendary Russian spread. 
Star Gazy Pie with purple asparagus and sage
     Perhaps the most extravagant zakuski ever offered in literature is in Gogol’s “Dead Souls”: a pie made from a gigantic sturgeon’s head, an assortment of caviar and smoked fish, cheeses and headcheese, wild mushrooms all washed down with vodka. That will be my inspiration for the table.

    The art department sends over a few fake vodka labels to choose from and we select a wonderfully authentic looking but totally made-up brand (oh snap out of it, people - Hannibal wouldn't buy vodka off the shelf. He makes his own from Mr and Mrs Potato Head).



What's a zakuski without three kinds of caviar! And baby blini

Tea to end the Kaiseki


     I also want to use a Japanese tea service (after all, a zakuski meal would have tea from a samovar). 

The props buyer got this amazing teapot and lacquered tray for a tea scene that got dropped
     It might be my last meal of the season. I have seen the production draft of the final episode and there isn’t any food in it. I figure that there is so much action and so many lives hanging in the balance and so many surprises that there will definitely not be time for anyone to sit down and have a meal cooked by Hannibal. He will be so busy cleaning and folding that plastic kill suit he will find no time to cook. So a Japanese tea service would be a lovely bookend to the first episode’s Japanese meal.

     As it turns out - and I should have known, a big food scene pops up in a mid-week script rewrite so, back to the kitchen for me...

And now it’s back to the kitchen for you!

    Oh, come on...I know you really don’t want to make Kholodets, nor any jellied aspic meat thing. Even if you do, none of your friends will want to eat it and you’ll have that glibbery thing in your fridge for months.

    So I’ve prepared an alternative recipe for you. These are like a miniature alcoholic dessert version of Kholodets. - but easier to make and more fun to eat. Plus these can be incorporated into your post-dinner Hannibal Drinking Game:

Sangria Jello Shots

24 one-ounce shots 

1 ½  cup        white wine
1 cup             fruit (mango, kiwi and apple) in small dice
1/8 cup          water
1/8 cup          frozen orange juice concentrate
3 envelopes   unflavoured gelatin
¼ cup            Grand Marnier
¼ cup             vodka

fruit to garnish

1.  Shake fruit and wine together.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine water, OJ concentrate and sprinkle gelatin over. Allow to gelatin to soften until all the gelatin particles become translucent, heat over low heat just until all melted, stirring constantly and scraping down sides with rubber spatula. Add wine fruit mixture and stir to mix well, scraping down sides with spatula.

3.  Remove from heat. Add Grand Marnier and vodka. Stir well. Ladle into clear plastic shot glasses, distributing fruit evenly. Refrigerate til well set (about 2 hours). Unmould by dipping in hot water til jelly releases, invert and unmould onto platter garnished with fruit and serve.


Oh alright, for those of you purists who really want to cook like Hannibal here’s a  simplified recipe to try. If you make it and no one will eat it, I can’t help you. Although, in the UK there’s a company that makes bespoke jellies and also will explode them – more Bond than Hannibal. Perhaps they will come over and detonate your uneaten Kholodets.


Kholodets 

    To make an authentic Kholodets you must simmer a large whole stewing chicken in water with onion and carrot for several hours until all the meat has fallen off the bones. The jelly of a really elegant Kholodets is almost clear and meltingly soft. It's delicately delicious.

    This  recipe calls for veal shanks and pork hocks which have much more cartilage and as a result will gel more solidly, but the result will be much more firm - more like head cheese.

Appetizer for 8

3                 pig’s trotters, scrubbed clean, bristles removed
1 lb             veal shank
1 lb             chicken thighs
1 large        carrot
1 medium   onion
1 tsp            pickling spice mix (coriander, peppers, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon)
to taste          salt, pepper
½ cup          diced carrots, cooked
½ cup          peas, cooked


1. In a large stock pot, over high heat, place trotters, shanks, thighs, carrot and onion quarters, pickling spice mix and 3 to 4 quarts of water (enough to cover meat) and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and allow to simmer for 5 to 6 hours or until meat falls off the bone and skin and cartilage are very soft. The liquid should be reduced by half. Skim of any coagulated foam that forms on the top of the liquid.

2. Remove bones and large pieces of meat. Strain stock through a fine sieve and discard vegetables and bones. Chop meat in ½-inch dice, mix with diced cooked carrots and peas, season with salt and pepper and place into loaf pan. Pour over strained stock. Chill until solid – at least 3 hours or overnight if possible. When ready to serve, dip pan in hot water until a thin layer of jelly melts. Invert and unmould onto a platter, slice and serve with horseradish and apologies.

At the end of the day, sadly it all goes into the dump

Next week: Sacrificial lambs have their blood smeared all over Hannibal’s front door.


Also next week, I’ll be posting more of your Hannidinner that you have shared by sending photos to janicepoon8@gmail.com



Except where noted, all content copyright Janice Poon and Feeding Hannibal
All script excerpts are property of Gaumont International and reproduction is strictly prohibited


27 comments:

  1. Hello You are a bit wrong, it's not холодец. This dish is called "fish in aspic"

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    1. Hi Alissa -- It's not Kholodets -- it's people.

      What I made for the screen WAS chicken in gelled chicken aspic - a true kholodets but Andre Jose, our brilliant culinary consultant wanted to use Peruvian anchovies as a garnish embedded in the clear part of the jelly to support Bryan Fuller's (our genius writer and show-runner) the dialogue and the "fishing lure" theme of Season 2 plot. And of course we used long bones and boar's jaws in the kitchen scenes of making the broth again to support the series" cannibal theme - that Hannibal is using human bones and Verger pigs in the food he is preparing. Thanks for wanting to believe Hannibal! I want to believe him too, however, that handsome devil cannot be trusted.

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    3. Hello and thanks for the answer) Any Russian woman can tell you that brawn never with fish, if the fish zalivaetsyaholodtsom, it is "jellied fish"
      I never bmanyvala ebya on account of Hannibal)

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  2. Word on the street (well, Twitter) is that the filming of this dinner scene had lots of material for the gag reel - probably literally! How did Mads and Laurence fare when choking this goop down?

    (Also, even though I'm a vegetarian and totally grossed out by even Hannibal's not-human food, I love this blog. An awesome look BTS plus you're a great/hilarious writer to boot! Thanks for taking the time.)

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    1. Yes, it's in the gag reel of the S2 dvd. Hilarious now, but when it was happening, I freaked because I always try to make the food taste good - and the chicken part of the kholodets DID taste good but the anchovies smelled as anchovies do. Mads and Lawrence joked about it between takes - on the gag reel you can see their exchange of conspiratorial looks just before they simultaneously spit up my precious jellied masterpiece...

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  3. A jello shot recipe just in time for the finale. I suspect we will need this.

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    Replies
    1. Stevi - Make a double recipe for the finale. It's shocking. You'll love it!

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  4. Ah... as a persimmon fan I have to say the ones in that tea service don't look ready to eat just yet! ;)

    Still, they could just be garnish - you've already shown that Dr. Lecter us extravagant even with the setting of the food! And perhaps some people do prefer them astringent.

    I was intrigued by the fishy dishes, though I confess I'm skeeved by aspic - guess I'm prejudiced by sweet gelatin desserts (though I"m not a huge fan of those anymore either.) Still, thank you for another week's gorgeous food scapes (and for the adjective "glibbery".)

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  5. HI Robert - You can't tell from the angle of the photograph but those are squat little Fuyu persimmons which you can eat when they are firm (altho they get sweeter as they get softer) and you can also eat the skin! They aren't astringent like the bigger pendulous Hachiya which I love but yes you have to wait until they are super squishy soft and develop black spots or you get that awful mouth-pucker from the tannins.

    No need to fear jelly! As one who was subjected to Thanksgiving Family dinner in the 60s, I can tell you how to deal with Jello salads (Lime jello with cottage cheese and pineapple was our family's culinary crime). You push it under the baked sweet potato and the heat melts the jello into a puddle indistinguishable from other dish detritus.

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    1. Thanks for the persimmon education! Yes, I think I've only ever found Hachiya in the stores... though I have had wild ones. Which cultivar they may be related to, I don't know.

      Now see, Jell-o mixed with other things I can do. But on its own? Enh.

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  6. Hey janice,

    Amazing post and work as always! What would be your favourite ep of this season? And is it challenging to constantly come up with the right creative dish for an episode, or do you just have to many ideas in the valut. Hahaha

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes I fear I will run out of ideas but luckily I always see a homely vegetable or a scary fruit that spurs my imagination. It might be fear. Or being near-sighted as a child and having to imagine where other people simply saw reality. My favorite food - a toss up between Ep 1's Kaiseki starter and Ep 10's ortolan. Fave episode was the finale because it was so brilliantly conceived as a season's end.

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  7. I hope that next season features more food suspended in gelatin.

    As always, fantastic job!

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    1. Very hilarious -- I thought you were on my side...

      Anyway, I don't think they allow Jell-o in Europe. They have culinary standards to adhere to.

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  8. I can't believe I am just finding this blog.... Hannibal is one of my favorite shows on TV right now and the food designs are always absolutely incredible. You do beautiful work.

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    1. Thank you! Now you can join us for Season 3 apres-broadcast food recaps!

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  9. Janice,
    You are an AMAZING talent. I have been in awe of the entire beauty and quality of Hannibal, the production, but was blown away by the food styling. Your artistry adds SO MUCH to the show, and thank God it does not go to waste as who ever lights, shoots and edits the show is right up there with you. I can't wait to see more of your creations. Thank you for all of your hard work.

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    1. Thank you Julie for your appreciation. Everyone on the show works so hard to do gorgeous work and it's the feedback like this that keeps us going! I agree that without Jim Hawkinson's incredible talent as Director of Photography, all our work would go for naught. Looking forward to season 3!!!

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  10. This is simple polish "Galareta" :D very good combination with cold vodka :D

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    1. I love it actually, in spite of my sarcasm. And apparently a lot of people do because it shows up in a lot of cuisines (headcheese, souse, brawn, potj viesch, galareta...) . But I rarely make it because no one else in my home will eat it.

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  11. I wonder how did you manage to make all the jelly to be on the bottom of the dish. When I usually make it the jelly goes on top and all the vegs and meat goes to bottom as they are heavier. Just curious may be there's some secret how to make it that way

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    1. Clever of you to notice that the kholodets ingredients were actually upside-down! I had to have the clear part on top so the ring of fish could be seen by the camera. So I made 2 kinds of jellied stock - one clear and one with shredded meat and veg. I poured clear stock into the mould first, let it semi gel enough to suspend the fish ring and garnishes, let that firm up - but not too much or the layers won't stick to each other, then gently ladle on the semi-gelled stock with meat shreds. Then let that firm up overnight. If I ever have to do this type of dish again, I would like to make flowers inside the clear jelly - like those Venetian glass paperweights. Those anchovies almost killed me.

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    ReplyDelete