Saturday 24 May 2014

Episode13 Mizumono

A blood drenched friend 
Above a shrinking husk
As his monstrous butterfly
Takes wing. 

Love too late.

A sanguine fiend
Takes flight. 

This episode is named Mizumono – the dessert of a Kaiseki dinner. Every course has been laid upon the table – now it’s time for all to be served their just desserts.

Continuity photo of Sacrificial Baby Lamb plate with blood oranges, mustard seed farfalle with sage, peppers in minted pea pods and pea shoots.

     And wow, what crazy treats Bryan Fuller has served up for this final episode. You kind of think you can guess what might happen, but the script amazes with its twists and surprises – and just when you settle in for the finale’s denouement – it smashes you with an even bigger surprise! Hello Air France! Will he stay in Paris or is Berlin calling?

     My feet were up. Sofa time. From my quick perusal of the production draft, I saw there was no dinner scene. Disappointed but philosophical, I reasoned, with all this killing, Hannibal will be far too busy to have dinner guests, especially a fussy moody guest like Will. It should be no surprise to me if Hannibal doesn’t need a food stylist for the final action-packed episode. So what if they finish out the season without me...everybody bleeding out while I nap and eat bonbons on my sofa.

My concept sketch of how I plan to make the baby lamb, what accompaniments I'll make and how the plates will look.

But No, it's Yes...I'm back in!   

  It’s into Day 2 of the episode’s 8-day shoot when I am snapped out of "snooze".  Emails from Bryan and Jose have started buzzing. Bryan is writing in a dinner scene and wants to use lamb shoulder to represent Jack. Robyn (Jose’s research assistant) jumps in with “sacrificial lamb”. Jose adds “lamb of the Lord” and sends pages of biblical quotes full of fire and brimstone. 
Hannidaddy, why can't I have plastic action figures like the other kids...
     I suggest using “rack of lamb” to show the ribs arching up like the steeple of a church or the fingers of praying hands. “Baby lamb,” says Jose. “Great!” says Bryan.

I tied the small ribs of the lamb together to resemble praying hands
     And I’m off to the butcher because it’s Easter right now and the baby lambs are all being bought up. I reserve two over the phone, sight unseen. I’m lucky to get them.
Discussing the shot on set with Bryan Fuller,  I realize it's ON THE LAM, not about Jack or Will, but Hannibal himself! I wonder if Bryan sits around chuckling to himself about how he tricked everyone. Again.
     The plates of lamb will be garnished with farfalle (butterfly-shaped pasta) and there will be bread (not Passover, I guess) in the basket because the script calls for bread being pulled apart and steam rising in the shape of wings. So I make half a dozen small Fougasse to represent butterfly wings and some adorably small Epi de ble that will look like butterfly bodies. Sadly, this scene gets dropped so you don’t see Hannibal tearing bread wings off bread butterfly bodies.
Lobster hatching from canteloupe and beetles emerging from cala lilies. Tiny melon balls spill out like fish eggs.
     The other accompaniments will be lobster emerging from a broken cantaloupe. This platter seems to perplex everyone when I bring it to set. I explain: some of you are just not letting your cantaloupe ripen enough. Leave it for a month in the back of a warm car and it will hatch a lobster – or something. Anyway this episode is all about the crisis of birth – you have to break a few eggshells to get the chick.
Brilliant Director David Slade discusses how he will shoot the dinner scene. We're going for a crane shot! Yay!
     The other accompaniment is creepy garden vegetables – okra, heritage tomatoes stuck with rattlesnake tails.
Rattlesnake tails and peacock feathers with baby yellow and purple cauliflower, purple baby artichokes, kale, savoy cabbage, patty pan squashes, a giant heritage tomato and okra.

Second Unit back with a different vibe.

The baby lamb dinner was the last food scene of the last episode – but I’m back in the sound stage the next day to do 2nd Unit stuff. The editing team is asking for all sorts of pick-up shots and inserts to flesh out the final cuts of several of the episodes. Today I have about 6 scenes to shoot.

Where is Cooking Lady????!!!

     Back in Season 1 when wonderful director Peter Medak was in the midst of shooting a kitchen scene, he wanted knife advice. Where is Cooking Lady??!! he lamented. But I had not been called to set that day. Later, when shooting Will preparing food for his pups in Episode 6, it was again decided I should not be called in. It’s just dog food.

    But it’s not just dog food! This is an important scene that shows Will is transforming into Hannibal. I need to be there to help infuse the scene with essence of Hannibal. I protested to all who will listen. But not too loudly: the scene was being shot in Will’s cabin – on location, way far from the city lights. At night. Up north. In the cold dark snowy sticks.
Here's the shooting schedule as a beat sheet. My dog food scenes in red at the bottom.
(copyrighted property of C. Burne and Gaumont International - reproduction prohibited)

     As luck would have it, they didn’t have time to shoot the scene that night so it was dropped. But it is back in now, for Episode 12 and being shot by 2nd Unit, in Stage 2 of the studio. I knew the writers would put it back in. It’s an important scene in tracking Will’s transformation. In this scene he’s alone, cooking. Not for show – not part of the “lure” that he is setting with Jack. He’s truly becoming Hannibal.

     For Will’s dog food close-ups I’ve brought a lovely assortment of rice; Wehani, wild and basmati, some garden vegetables, fresh turkey meat and stock– to show Will is taking care with ingredients. My best touch: pots of spunky little rosemary plants. If Hannibal has a wall of herbs in his dining room then Will should have a window sill of baby rosemary.

 Cooking Lady in da house

     On a good day, the 2nd Unit pace is fast, the humour is high and the energy is creative. Today is a good day – in spite of the crushing list of shots to do. Chris Burne is directing so he will be spinning LPs on the old turntable while we shoot in the cozy “round room” set (Verger’s bedroom). To set the mood for Mads, he sets out a big mason jar (formerly used for snuffing birds) stuffed with flickering dinner candles. The effect is charming, the atmosphere feels intimate and the extreme close-ups come out great.
Chris directing Mads in ortolan eating close-ups Candles and Mozart for mood. Loretta Ramos (Living Dead Guy) took this great photo while I was strangling fake birds in the back.

     The mood carries over smoothly to the next scene: kholodets close-up inserts. Everything is calm and cool. Well, except for the maiming and blood-letting I hear in Studio 1 when I’m over there getting stuff off the prop trolley. 

     They’re shooting Willdigo’s birth scene – Hugh is in throes of becoming Willdigo. He lets out a long blood-curdling howl in the agony of birth. I wince as I hear Hugh wail again for 2 more takes.  Each one sounds pretty convincing to me -- I wonder what the director is looking for. The crew is pretty impressed with Hugh’s vocal efforts and breaks into applause when the director finally yells “Cut”.
Pulling a skein of saran wrap out of a marzipan bird to make it hollow and easier to eat.
    Studio 2 is a rabbits’ warren of sets right now – so many inserts from various episodes have been requested to round out the final edits before they go to broadcast. Every time I round the corner to go to Studio 1, I almost trip over a fake dead horse that is lying on the floor – whether he’s finished with his scene or waiting for it is hard to tell. I resist the urge to take a selfie with it.
Bird (fake) drowned in Armagnac

Is there life after Kholodets?

     After the kholodets, we have ortolan scenes to shoot and suckling pig and inserts to do as well, so I have a lot of work ahead of me before my final wrap. Martha de Laurentiis and Loretta Ramos (Living Dead Guy) have noted that it’s my last day on set and graciously drop by my worktables to say a warm goodbye. Other crew wander by for goodbye hugs.
Getting the Jelly Beast ready for close up insert shots of the Kholodets that almost killed me

     When my food scenes are all done, the stage shifts. The crew slips into the darkness to get ready for the next thing on the call sheet: a closed set – where Alana is swallowed by inky shadows in her bedroom. Stage 2 is literally abandoned as everyone either hustles to get ready for the next scene or dashes out to have a quick smoke, get something from the craft truck or go for a 10-1 (to pee, in walkie-talkie code). I’m alone in the vast cluttered bunker to pack up for the last time in this long season and head home. Alone with my thoughts.
Me waiting to shoot my interview with Dr Insanity's "Post Mortem"

Producer/Director Sharon Seto doing a Hannibal promo shoot in my kitchen studio

     We had begun shooting in September and now it’s early April. It’s been an exhausting whirlwind. The excitement, the boredom, the sleepless grueling days and nights of running at top speed on empty. The camaraderie, the conflicts and the wonderful creative challenges.  I’m so happy that it’s over but I feel a little sad as I pull out of the lot. Will I miss this madness – I can’t tell. All I want to do is sleep. Oh yeah, and eat.

     Definitely hungry now.

    Could eat a whole roasted sacrificial lamb….and I’ll bet you could too! 
There's so much more leg room on this Air France jet..

    Get your aprons on. It’s dinnertime!

Baby lamb

Rack of Sacrificial Lamb

Roasting baby lamb is a lot like roasting suckling pig. It is indescribably delicious and delicate but needs a huge oven and a large group of people to eat it plus it can be tricky getting a baby lamb from Mr Grocer so I’m going to give you an alternative recipe for rack of regular lamb – still delicious yummy but easy to get. If you do a pair of racks, you can platter them propped on each other like praying hands as I did for Hannibal’s dinner with Will.

I’ve given two different types of seasoning – one a herb rub to oven roast and the other an Asian marinade to barbecue. Both are great but the marinade takes a bit of pre-planning.

Serves four

2 racks of lamb (each 5 to 8 bone)

Style One: Herb marinade:
¼ cup olive oil
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 sprigs rosemary, stems removed
to taste crushed pepper, sea salt

1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and rub into lamb.

2. Roast in preheated oven at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes or until medium rare. Rest for 10 minutes and slice and serve.

OR if you want to try something different and can start a day or two ahead:

Style Two: Satay marinade
1  4-oz bar coconut cream
2 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp Satay sauce or Hoi Sin sauce
2 cloves garlic crushed

1.  In a small saucepan, melt coconut cream in water over medium heat, cool and stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon over lamb and marinate, refrigerated, overnight or up to 2 days. Reserve excess marinade for basting during cooking.

2. Fire up the BBQ (or preheat the broiler) and barbecue 12 to 15 minutes or until medium rare or broil 4 to 5 minutes per side. Brush with reserved marinade. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and slice and serve.

So many Hannidinners - so little time...

Here are some that came in last week...Plus the very first one I ever got - from season one..

From Episode 1, Season 1
This gave me the idea of posting photos of your cooking inspired by Feeding Hannibal. It was sent to me by Zsolt Hummel a few days after the very first episode of Hannibal aired. He made Lamb Bourguignon from my recipe and garnished it with purple potatoes and beets on spinach veloute. 
Chris M did Duck Baked in Clay decorated in flowers and vines
 1) just out of the oven
Chris' duck- 2) cracking off clay and unwrapping lotus leaf
Chris' duck - 3) slicing into the fruit stuffing
Tee working wonders, stuffed quails with blood sausage and plated them with pomegranates and beet and potato galette
David made this beautiful plate of Huevos in Brioche
Tasty looking Sacromonte Omelette also by David

Alex S celebrated the return of everyone's favorite ginger - and Season 3 - with a really beautifully photographed plate of very lovely Lomo Saltado

Justin and his wife have weekly Hannibal-themed hors d'oeuvres to snack on during the show. They made the Sweetbread-stuffed Quail - plump and luscious looking.
Justin's quails on their way into the oven

Vic F often make Hannidinners - here's his osso buco
This is Vic's juicy looking version of Hannibal's stuffed chicken thigh
Another of Vic F's Hannidinners - Stuffed Veal from Season One
He made Lomo Saltado for this season's finale.
Felipe from Barcelona sent this picture of the Congress of Curious People's last dinner party that he says was inspired by my art and the Baroque Cabinets of Curiosities. A soprano from Licceu Opera sang Handel.

Justin threw a dinner party too and sent these gorgeous images 
X rated stuffed quail cooked and styled by Justin I
Bone marrow by Justin
Melon rolls - see more of Justin's dinner in his album
Solya made my Sacromonte Omelette and blogged about it
Alicia G added her personalized touches to my osso buco recipe and also to Jose Andre's Saffron Risotto recipe and was inspired to blog about the delicious results!

Thanks for all the fun this season sharing your Hannidinners. I hope you loved the finale, continue cooking and will be back for more servings of same in season 3!

Except where noted, all content copyright of Janice Poon and Feeding Hannibal and reproduction is strictly prohibited

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.


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.


    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

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