Jul19

Glyndebourne it ain’t

On Wednesday last week the Royal Opera House broadcast a live performance of The Barber of Seville to open air screens around the UK. Despite a hideous weather forecast, my friend Guy (to whom I am grateful for several of the photos on this website) and I decided that we would meet at Canary Wharf and picnic while we listened to the music. We were excited because tenor Juan Diego Florez (he of the high Es rather than Cs) was to sing Count Almaviva, and we’d heard that the mezzo Joyce DiDonato playing Rosina was not only in fine voice but in a wheelchair as well!  We were buzzing.
I made a picnic –  a rather curious mixture of Goan chicken cafreal with flat breads and salad, followed by strawberries, raspberries and home-made Magdalenas (little Spanish buns flavoured with citrus zest) – while Guy raided Waitrose for nibbles and a couple of bottles of wine. We really didn’t think they were serious about the weather…
A little later, covered from head to foot in large white plastic ponchos and huddled together on a white tarpaulin thoughtfully provided by BP, we realised that it was impossible to get at the picnic (or the bottles of wine) without real danger of drowning.  As the rain hurled down, a quick glance around the square showed some 500 other people were in the same quandary – it looked like a field full of white mushrooms rising above the flood.
Anyway, it turned out that even mushrooms feel better when well marinated in wine and when the rain let up we were able to face the food as well – I can thoroughly recommend the combination of summer fruits and Magdalenas with only slightly watered white wine. Oh, and the opera was cool, too!

Magdalenas

Magdalenas in drier times

Magdalenas in drier times

  • 115g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • grated zest of two lemons
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180C/ gas 4. Mix together the flour, sugar, lemon zest, oil and egg yolks. This will look rather grainy and lumpy but keep beating it. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then loosen the Magdalena mixture with two or three tablespoons of it before gently folding the rest of the whites in.
Line a bun tray with bun cases (you may need more than 12) and fill the cases about two thirds of the way up. Bake until the Magdalenas are golden and firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack and then dust with icing sugar.

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