Turning the clock back

IT’s not so much a New Year’s resolution as a celebration of foodie nostalgia. Shortly before Christmas, we had a festive tea party with friends at which a range of distinctly retro treats were served alongside seasonal classics and favourites.

The retro food included vol au vents – “What are vol au vents?” asked the younger (ie under 40) guests – egg sandwiches, Eccles cakes (surely, Eccles cakes never go out of fashion?),  a proper cherry cake and a real trifle topped with silver and gold dragees and almonds.

There were also cheese scones, smoked salmon sandwiches, fattoush, mince pies, a white chocolate cheesecake, biscotti, a chocolate roulade, a chocolate banana teabread made with an interesting barley flour (beremeal) from Orkney, a pomegranate pavlova, chocolate Gateau Louise, chestnut cake, brownies … (I should perhaps add that there were 18 people plus a toddler who wanted to try everything!)

There were gallons of whatever tea anyone wanted and a fresh watermelon and mint drink. (Nobody wanted alcohol, but then this was TEA).

Some time during the leisurely gathering, when the subject of retro food came up, a friend who was coming for New Year mentioned that she would really love a knickerbocker glory. (Unsurprisingly the younger people didn’t know what that was either.)

Gay likes a quest, so she set out to find the right glasses, while I started looking at recipes. There wasn’t one in any of our large and eclectic collection of cookery books. On-line was even more frustrating – there were plenty of pictures (a typical example is included here), but most recipes seemed to be (a) American and (b) full of uninspiring commercial sauces, tinned fruit, boring ice cream, etc. I  quickly gave up and we agreed that we would create our own.

And then we forgot all about it. Christmas came and went. The knickerbocker glory glasses sat quietly in their box. New Year’s Eve arrived, four of us sat down to supper. We had pecan and rocket salad, followed by rather festive looking “stacks” – home made tomato sauce, over toasted smoked tofu or chunks of venison sausage on portobello mushrooms, on aubergine burgers on spinach on potato waffles. We headed off to the kitchen to get plates for slices of panettone or cheese and biscuits – and than Gay remembered the knickerbocker glory glasses!

Some time later – our friends still chatting over wine – we carried in the results of some rather frantic “foraging” in the freezer and the larder. Our New Year 2018-19 knickerbocker glories were made with scoops of three sorts of ice-cream (coffee, vanilla and a colourful blood orange sorbet and dark chocolate ice), with dollops of mango butter (a present from my California-based daughter’s trip to Hawaii), a strange but delicious red wine fudge sauce from a California vineyard, generous splashes of haskap syrup (made from Alaskan haskap berries), bananas, blueberries, a handful of raspberries and a freshly made chocolate sauce.

Word has got around. Friends are asking us to make knickerbocker glories when they come to us – and my daughter has put in her request for when we go to see her in a few weeks time.

Inspired by the fun of rediscovering old favourites, we have all agreed that the Christmas tea party will become a regular event, and we will have a year of reviving long-forgotten flavours to entertain friends (and perhaps a few readers!)