smoke and sorcery….

This morning I awoke to the scent of wood smoke; a scent so filled with memories that I wished it could somehow be preserved. On inspection it was clear that some red hot ashes, all that remained of last night’s log fire, had metamorphosed the wood burner into a thurible. Quiet mornings scented with coffee and wood smoke are things of literary imagination, so I count myself fortunate each time that I live one. Silence always surprises me by its enveloping noise; a mesmerising comforting hissing in my head…walking on a soft wool rug and then cool tiles to the kitchen to turn on the radio and end it……and I’m back in the noise and talking back to presenters and callers alike whilst wondering what sort of person is moved to pick up a phone at this most peaceful time in the mistaken belief that whatever he has to say will have any effect on anything save for relieving his irritable phone bile. The kitchen is a good starting place for the day, for my day; my thoughts about food start early even if eating doesn’t as, against all given opinion, my breakfast has always been continental in nature: coffee…which somehow takes me back some 50 years to chill grey early morning Paris streets, wet and empty save for street cleaners and other survivors of a night at Castel’s or New Jimmy’s waiting for somewhere, anywhere, to open its doors and offer the sustenance of a café Calva, or several…..now unimaginable, now barely remembered. But the taste of and for Calvados remains. Fruit based alcools blancs are not only singularly good digestifs but, as an ingredient, they have the sorcerer’s ability to enchant, to change a dessert from very good to, I would like to say ethereal, but memorable. Pears and Poire William, apples and Calvados, plums and Quetsche, mirabelles ( how I love these little golden fuckers which, in our house, never last long enough to become part of a dessert) with Mirabelle, raspberries with Framboise and cherries with Kirsch….when there’s fruit on the trees and bushes and alcools blancs in the larder then there’s pudding in the house.

Cherries in Kirsch

1 kilo of cherries
1 litre of kirsch
250 gms of sugar
Vanilla pods
Sterilised preserving jars

Wash and wipe the cherries. Cut the stems of the cherries in half with scissors and prick each cherry with a clean needle. Put the cherries and sugar into the clean jars and fill with Kirsch until the cherries are covered. Add half a vanilla pod to each jar. Leave the cherries to macerate in the jars for 3 months away from the daylight, preferably in a clean, dry cupboard. During the first week shake the bottles gently to help dissolve the sugar evenly.
Very good with coffee or with chocolate.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2017, apples, Calvados, cherries, Cherries in Kirsch, desserts, Digital photography, Drinks, Excellence, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Fruit, Herbs and Spices, Memory, Mirabelles, Pears, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Plums, Poire William, Poire William, Recipes, Uncategorized, vanilla, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to smoke and sorcery….

  1. Nadia says:

    Cherries jubilee😋

  2. I had to google “cherries jubilee”…..looks good:)

  3. Mad Dog says:

    Café Calva! I’ve never had one, but I can see the attraction, especially after staying out all night. I used to buy a carajillo and a bocadillo (sandwich) de tortilla in the Boqueria, while the stall holders set up the market in the morning. I remember arriving back at Plaça Cataluña, after clubbing all night. I was feeling thirsty when I got off the Metro and noticed a cold drinks machine on the platform. In those days I drank the occasional Coca-Cola and anticipated the cold sweet drink going down my throat …until i noticed that the machine sold beer. I walked down the Ramblas with a Coke in one hand and a beer in the other!
    Great pictures and Cherries in Kirsch are delicious.

  4. Misky says:

    Cold quarry tiles in the kitchen, LBC radio, and milky coffee is my usual morning. Lovely post.

  5. Eha says:

    Hard to believe you are one of the few in ether whose words can make me cry . . . good tears . . . ! Remember wet Paris sidewalks, and those of others not remembered, in the early morning hours . . . still reach for that strong black coffee in a favourite mug whilst the roosters are at work . . . sometimes still add an extra taste of Calvados ere I reach out for the day to come . . . smile and comfort . . .

  6. Do you listen to talk back radio in french or english? Oh I just read some of your other conversations and I am guessing English. I love vanilla pods and buy them by the pound!

    • I listen to French talk back radio in the car, but I tend to turn it off very quickly as the language used by “callers” is a sort of annoying esperanto.I wish I could buy vanilla pods by the pound….I really wish: I tend to use vanilla essence which is more affordable and not that bad.

      • I am making another vanilla pod order soon (I buy them once a year from a mexican company) – if you would like me to order you some and send them on I am more than happy to do so.- their vanilla essence is sugar free and very good too. Just a thought.

      • Let me know how much it would be, say 8oz, as my budget is virtually non existent! Thanks for the thought, Cecilia..:)

  7. Francesca says:

    Morning smoke and coolness has that wonderful effect on me too, which you have captured so well in your prose. Shame you keep turning that radio on to spoil it. No classical channels available? I start my days in the kitchen too, with stocks and bean soaking and get irritable when the mood is spoiled by the talk back radio.

    • I do listen to Classic FM but it’s dreadfully predictable and repetitive. I’ve come to the conclusion that images, tastes and smells are the sensual things that move me……getting the right music all the time is a skill I haven’t mastered and I never want anything to do with earphones:)

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