Spartacus at 2am; The Vixen's appetite is whet.

[Sea-salt popcorn, Mexican hot chocolate, Burgundy snails]

I can't sleep. I can never sleep. Well, no, that's not true, I can never sleep when I'm supposed to--like now, when I have to be up and in the office first thing. Maybe if I just got rid of my bed and installed fluorescent overhead lights, workstation and a pseudo-ergonomic chair with a wonky wheel, I'd be snoozing away....

I ignore the urge for late night reno (no energy--it's not like I haven't been to Home Depot at 3am before), and settle horizontally on the sofa with three pillows that never see the bed anymore, spongebob slippers, a bowl of sea salt-laced popcorn and what's close to a gallon of mexican hot chocolate in that giant Liberace mug D. bought last time he was in 'Vegas. I doubt the caffeine in my drink is doing me any favours, but the combination of the salty, crispy kernels and the silky, spicy, bittersweet brew is too gratifying to be ceased.

The restored version of Spartacus is on. Larry Olivier is literally trying to lather up Tony Curtis in the baths:

Larry/Crassius: Do you eat oysters?
Tony/Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassius: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassius: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassius: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassius: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.

Ooh, er, get him. He always eats oysters when he has them? Good boy. I think the real reason this scene was cut was because Tony wouldn't have run away from ol' Lar. Snails, oysters--a cunning guy like Antoninus would have no problem with either, both, or anything in between....

D. prefers oysters. I prefer snails.(it goes to show.) Sautéed in butter, garlic, maybe a little shallot and a splash of cognac...or nestled in boiled new potatoes and covered in a persillade of bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley...Vietnamese style, steamed with minced pork, chilis, lemongrass and ginger? Mmmm. Didn't H. say the ordinary garden variety pest was the kind preferred by top chefs? Ewww. (note to self, have a word with the landscaping staff, next time I'm at the Belvedere.)

I don't think I'm ready to go so far.


Hm. I wonder where I left the flashlight....


mexican hot chocolate

1½ oz unsweetened chocolate
¼ c. sugar
1 tbsp instant espresso granules
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
¾ c water
2 c milk

1. Combine chocolate, sugar, espresso, cinnamon, salt and water in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring constantly.
2. Add milk, heat through but do not let boil.
3. Remove from heat and whip with a wire whisk until foamy.
* normally, I'd add a garnish of orange zest, but I don't remember when I bought the last shrivelled navel in the fridge. I don't even remember what intersection.

serves 2-3, or 1½ blue glass mugs from the Liberace museum

keith floyd's burgundy snails (from floyd on france)

8 cloves garlic
2 shallots
100g/3½oz parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 lemon, juice only
500g/1lb 2oz butter
100 medium snails, cleaned, washed and removed from shells

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Mix the garlic, shallots, parsley, salt and pepper and lemon.
3. Push a small amount of butter to the bottom of each clean empty snail shell then add the snails and seal with more butter. or just put on a snail dish and pop into the oven.
5. As soon as the butter is bubbling, remove and serve immediately.

serves 10 as an appetizer, or two greedy guts on a budget holiday in Axaquia--come to think of it, where did Señora G get those snails from anyway??