Tuesday, November 09, 2010

In my orange heaven

Sunday was fruit liqueur day.  I took the sloes from the freezer, and put them to macerate in the gin - it's a little late to have that ready to drink by Christmas, but there's still a bottle left from last year.  I also chopped up a quince, which is a thing I can never resist buying in the season for its beauty, its fuzzy bloom and fragrance, its echoes of the mediaeval - quince paste, membrillo, courtly walled gardens with flowering quince trees ... and its general Old World oddity - 'they dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon...'.  Once I have kept it and admired it for a time, picking it up and inhaling its perfume whenever I pass, I'm often rather at a loss what to do with it; I always have more jams and jellies than we can eat or give away, B the German Doctor makes membrillo and gives it to us, but in truth I'm not over-fond of it, and tarte tatin, should I ever get around to making it, is really better just with apples. So this time I thought I'd try making it drinkable, putting it minced fine into a mishmash of poire William aquavit and vodka I had standing around, with some almonds and other things I've forgotten what already.  Heaven knows how it will turn out but frankly it can't go too far wrong really,  that's the good thing about making liqueur and schnappsy type things.

Ad finally I did another experiment, which came to me when Tom went looking for the gin for the sloes and inadvertently picked up a bottle of triple sec, a clear spirit flavoured with orange peel, instead.

I scrubbed some clementines,



and sliced them up,


then put them in a wide-necked jar, with a few of their leaves, a stick of cinnamon, some cardamon and a good handful of coriander seeds.






I added some honey




and the triple sec ( along with some brandy and some reddish Rivesaltes aperitif to lighten and stretch it a little bit)


Then I shook it all about plenty.








It was all so luminously, fragrantly gorgeous, I couldn't stop photographing it.  








These are only a selection, there are even more on the Picasa album here, which you can see as a slide show, if you want to.

In a very short time, it will have lost its looks, and be just a mushy mess in the jar, and even when it's decanted and filtered it won't look anything special.  But the alchemical wonder of fruit liqueurs is in how the original visual beauty of their constituents is transmuted to a beauty of taste, so that the tongue and palate will later remember and re-live what the eyes saw.  

That's the idea, anyway.


13 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

Magical.

Kelly said...

Transmuted beauty, how can it get any better than that?

Catalyst said...

As for quince - "Plutarch reports that a Greek bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber, in order that the first greeting may not be disagreeable nor unpleasant." (Wikipedia)

the polish chick said...

catalyst, i imagine that's because their oral hygiene left much to be desired, but that might be just the dental professional talking.

lucy, that looks lovely. this year we experimented with italian plum liqueur, sweet cherry liqueur, apricot/peach liqueur and a raspberry one. we're running out of room, but mr. monkey is making a valiant effort and slowly but surely they are being consumed. sadly, this is the year i discovered i simply cannot drink anything other than wine or i shall live to regret it. in fact my body recoils from all of our lovely handiwork. still, it is a pleasant pastime and i love giving it to others.

Rouchswalwe said...

Somewhere there I do believe I experienced a moment of swooning. O. la. la.

Jackie said...

Lovely, lovely pictures.

SpiralSkies said...

And once again, I am utterly swoonified and inspired to follow in your fabulous footsteps... I'll be the lady clutching a carrier bag of booze and a billion kilner jars...

Fire Bird said...

I imagine you washing your sticky hands frequently in between stages of this process, divided between the preparation and its photographic recording. I can almost taste this delicious nectar by looking at these beautiful and intimate shots of its conception (the reverse of the process you describe)
wv - hooxicle

herhimnbryn said...

L. have answered your query at my Mosaic blog.

marja-leena said...

Swooning here too from sensory pleasures of sight and imagined tastes and scents. Wonderful, Lucy!

Bee said...

That will be DELICIOUS. Those pictures just zing. We so desperately need citrus things at this time of year to counteract/balance out all of the rich stuff.

I've always wanted a quince tree. For romantic reasons, really, as I have no idea about what to do with a quince. But speaking of tarte tatin, I am in love with pear tarte tatin this week.

Plutarch said...

In Spain they serve membrillo with curd cheese. Those photographs leave me reeling as though I had drunk bottles of your liqueurs one after the other. And I am not a liqueur drinker by inclination.

Sheila said...

This is just sumptuous! Thank you for sharing all the wonderful orangey bounty, especially in a week when I couldn't find clementines over here! Surely they'll show up this week.