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
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.