Twelfth Night officially begins tomorrow, Monday January 6th. In Shakespeare’s time, it could also be said it begins tonight as at that time the day was considered to begin at sundown. We had one of our Twelfth Night(s) before Thanksgiving when we had the sublime pleasure of “Twelfth Night“at the Belasco Theater in Manhattan. Three hours of magnificent acting, comedic timing and just plain fun from the all-male cast from the Globe Theater in London. It is still there, til Feb 16th. I can’t recommend it enough!
Trinity Church Wall Street was founded with a land grant from the Church of England in 1697. The present church was built in 1846 in Gothic Revival Style and for years, its’ spire was a beacon seen from New York harbor.
This is the third year of Trinity’s Twelfth Night Festival, a feast of heavenly music featuring a lot of early music as well as Bach, Benjamin Britten and Rachmaninoff, which we came to hear on New Year’s Day.
Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, also called The All Night Vigil, premiered in 1917. One of the great compositions of Russian sacred music for the voices of an a cappella choir. The Clarion Choir, led by Steven Fox, poured their hearts into each glorious note which soared and rose through this inspiring space, delighting the packed congregation.
As we emerged into the dark streets, we passed this sculpture in the courtyard. “Trinity Root” 2005 is a sculpture in patinated bronze by Steve Tobin, a Philadelphia sculptor. On 9/11, an almost 500 year-old sycamore in the churchyard was felled by the debris from the Twin Towers. Miraculously, it neither damaged the church or any of the gravestones. The actual roots of this tree were the inspiration for the sculpture.
At Le Pain Quotidien, the Galette des Roi is a delicate almond cake of puff pastry with a layer of frangipane, and the requisite feve hidden inside – in this case a chocolate covered almond.
If you receive the feve, you are crowned King for the Day. If there is a Le Pain near you, it’s not too late to try this tradition. Samuel Pepys writes that a cake called a Twelfth Night cake was served with a pea and a bean, resulting in a King and a Queen, equal time for the ladies in the UK!
More than you ever wanted to know about these cakes? Brioche des Rois from southern France is often served in the run up to Mardi Gras. New York’s premiere bakery Francois Payard has taken the cake one step further this season, making it with a dense layer of Valrhona chocolate ganache, calling it Nkwanta Chocolate Galette. Nkwanta chocolate from Ghana is owned by Valrhona and part of the proceeds from the cake sales go to projects in Ghana. Twelfth Night cake is truly global.
Happy Twelfth Night to all. Cheers!