I’ve always loved good British children’s authors. They have respect for the not-so-tender minds of their wee audience. Not only do the writers excel at that genre about orphans and specialized schools (thanks to Jezebel for boiling down the COVENS rule) but they allow villains to be truly evil and they understand the importance of food in our lives.
It’s an ultimate cruelty to deprive a child of food in the books (something that got my blood boiling as a child) and when they celebrate food, it’s with hedonistic glee by which the authors describe and devise culinary treasures that delight our hungry minds.
Some of my favorites have to be Frances Hodgson Burnett (“A Little Princess” has an awesome surprise feast in it) and the king of children’s food literature, Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Danny the Champion of the World,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” are food-centric).
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is the contemporary heir to this epicurean exposition, and her creation of the Honeydukes sweets shop and all its magical (and sometimes sick) confections made a gaggle of journalists recently liz themselves. But it was the butterbeer that piqued my interest and thirst.
In the books, butterbeer is a drink favored by young wizards. During my recent visit to Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter I was able to sample the theme park’s take on the drink, which could be served warm or frozen (I was advised by most to go for the latter.)
It was frothy and creamy sweet, a slightly heartier and syrupy-er cream soda. On a blazing hot day, this would be a welcome and refreshing beverage, although too sweet for my palate.
I attended two-time “Top Chef” contestant (he’s an all-star) Marcel Vigneron’s cooking demo to promote his upcoming Syfy show “Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen” in which he uses his culinary alchemy to make fantastical foods centering on a theme.
In this case, it was Harry Potter, and this was certainly not Madame Rosmerta’s butterbeer.
Also inspired by quidditch’s golden snitch, Vigneron created a quivering spherification of cream soda through a simple chemical process (watch video) resting atop a brown butter powder with butterscotch flavoring drizzled on it. That burst of creamy fizz and nuttiness of the powder in one mouthful definitely gave me a better butterbeer experience than the theme park drink did.
I’ve no doubt that kids and adults with a healthy sweet tooth would love the WWOHP butterbeer, but I definitely preferred the spherification, not only for its ingenuity, but also purely based on taste and texture.
In general, however, I still feel like I need to make up my own butterbeer recipe. I’ve always imagined it as a bubbly cross between a Buttery Nipple shot and a strong clove-y wassail. I think adding an alcoholic component to this butterbeer recipe by Ashly might do the trick. I want to be doubly warmed — by the drink’s temperature and by the alcohol.
Anyone want to have a butterbeer concoction party? We’ll try different recipes until a) We get it right or b) Are too “warm” to care.