"We want the finest wines available to humanity. We want them here and we want them now." –Withnail
Bruce Robinson's semi-autobiographical 1987 black comedy has long enjoyed cult classic status and more than a few DVD copies were dusted off for a revisit after the passing, in March of this year, of Richard Griffiths, whose performance as Uncle Monty will long be remembered. Featuring, arguably, cinema's most convincing portrayal of a drunkard by a teetotaller, our anti-hero, Withnail, is played, unforgettably, by Richard E Grant, while Paul McGann is Marwood, an introspective writer helplessly watching his friend self-destruct.
Having decided to take a recuperative holiday in the country, Withnail and Marwood head to Uncle Monty's cottage in the Lake District. On the way, they stop at the quaint little Penryth tea rooms. Their elderly waitress does her best to discourage them and refuses to bring them the cake and wine Withnail demands. After threatening her and the elderly proprietor with the prospect of buying the place and installing a jukebox, to "liven all you stiffs up a bit", they leave both cakeless and thirsty.
Withnail and Marwood's wretched existence in London was bad enough but when they finally arrive at Uncle Monty's cottage, they find it run-down, dusty and devoid of supplies, until Uncle Monty makes a surprise visit. We bet Withnail and Marwood would have loved a bowl of our boozy bread and butter pudding. The ultimate sweet comfort food, bread and butter pudding is a doddle to make. Even the duo's miserable London flat would have housed most of the ingredients necessary to make this, although the milk may have been off and there's no doubt they would have been more liberal in the application of the whiskey to the recipe than we are.
INGREDIENTS (serves two starving actors)
8 slices of day-old white bread, crusts removed
50g of soft butter
4 tbsps of marmalade, plus 4 extra tsps
300ml of full-fat milk
250ml of double cream
3 large free-range eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
4 tbsps of caster sugar
2 tbsps of whiskey or spiced rum
Icing sugar, for dusting
Make four marmalade-and-butter sandwiches by buttering all the slices of bread and topping each slice with a tablespoon of marmalade. Cut the sandwiches into triangles.
Grease a large baking dish with butter. Arrange the marmalade-and-butter sandwich triangles in the dish so that there are no gaps between the bread .
In a large jug, beat the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla seeds, sugar and whiskey together. Pour the whole lot over the bread and leave it to soak for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 160c/140c fan/Gas Mark 3.
Once the bread has had 30 minutes of soakage, top with the additional teaspoons of marmalade. Dust with a tablespoon of icing sugar.
Bake it in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, until it’s starting to caramelise.
Serve hot or warm, with more cream, custard or whiskey on the side if you like.