It's hard trying to be a food writer when you haven't got a kitchen. It's the reason why you've had a series of posts from me on cocktails over the last few days. You're also going to get quite a bit about books over the next few weeks or so; that is until the dust settles, the builders are banished and the ribbon, unveiling the new kitchen, is cut. I might even post up a photograph of the whole shooting match when it's finished.
For this one, I'm combining the two by recommending Drinking in Vogue, written by Henry McNulty, first published in 1978. Condé Nast published a series of excellent design and style books in the 60's, 70's and 80's; all of which are now becoming highly collectable. Henry Piper McNulty sounds like one of those splendid old school Henry Jamesy Americans. His Princeton obituary describes him as "a man of the world". I like the dry, spare irony of his biographical entry on the back flap of Drinking in Vogue: "Henry McNulty was born in Soochow, China, the son of missionary parents..."
And what a useful little book is Drinking in Vogue; peppered with amusing stories and witty asides:
"Learning to appreciate wine is a bit like falling in love. It happens to you without you actually encouraging it. But unlike love there is little chance that divorce will set in, unless your doctor intervenes".
He's also disarmingly candid: " I make no claim to wine expertise. I just like wine. My personal preference is for red over white, and French over others, and Bordeaux over Burgundy..."
Hintlesham Hall, Suffolk
I was amused to see Henry McNulty mentioning a recipe for the "Hintlesham White Lady" (gin and lemon juice in equal measures, a dash of cointreau, a touch of sugar to taste, shaken with the white of an egg and ice). Oh, crikey, that's a trip down memory lane. Back in the late 70's, Hintlesham Hall was the fashionable country house restaurant owned by the starry American food writer and television "chef", Robert Carrier. Hintlesham was the sort of place where the waiters would count to three, and lift their silver tureen lids in unison. I buy old Robert Carrier books whenever I see them. They go for a song.
Mr Carrier in action for the BBC
It's funny how nobody seems to remember Robert Carrier anymore. In his day, he was huge: a contributor to Vogue, the proprietor of a trendy cookery school, author of many urbane cookery books, the inventor of the wipeable Robert Carrier Cookery Card System- a novel concept at the time. Food, Wine & Friends (the book of his now long forgotten 1979 television series) remains a particular favourite. If I can find my copy, I'll post up some photographs from the book at a later date. You will find them highly entertaining. His "friends", of course, included glamour girls like Joanna Lumley, Liv Ullmann, Susannah York, and Valentina Cortese.
Robert Carrier's dining room at Hintlesham, "Robert Carrier's Entertaining", Sidgwick & Jackson, 1977
And he was a terribly nice man to deal with: a very long time ago, as a junior auction specialist at a well know auctioneers in New Bond Street, I was told to telephone Mr Carrier to tell him that his rather camp 17th century wood carvings (gilt-wood angels, heavenly cherubs, South German putti- that sort of thing) had failed to sell. He was utterly charming, shouted "good, good!" down the telephone and told me he was delighted to be "getting his old friends back".
There's hardly anything featuring Robert Carrier on youtube, but I did find him trying to flog Magimixes in an old ad from the 1980's: