As the winter solstice approached, I was wondering how to mark that darkest of days. I was tempted to take the mead & meat, faux-Viking approach, but then I got side-tracked. A couple of days beforehand, I overheard a lengthy phone conversation between a loud lawyer named Anton and a family member, in which he organised a Hanukkah party. Any religious observance that hinges on doughnuts and fried foods is OK by me. So while the Jewish Festival of Lights isn't actually connected to its proximity to the solstice, I decided that a large quantity of fried food was the way to go.
I made an ethereally light tempura batter and dunked carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower and baby leeks in it. Then came the great intention that made Paul quote Giambattista Marino - I dunked some chunks of cheese in the batter and tossed them into the hot oil. Ethereally light tempura batter is too insubstantial to encase molten cheese and what was scooped from the oil was a bit of a stringy mess.