Saturday, 27 July 2013

Intoxication and a joyful noise in the Fens

Mother took a day off to go to the Cambridge Folk festival where barefoot dancing to The Levellers made her feel the giddy psychedelic youth of 25 years past. And in her honour the magnificent Bellowhead played their Sloe Gin Set Well, perhaps it wasn't in her honour, but still it was a joyful noise.


The last of the blackcurrants have now been picked alongside with all the cherries that I could reach, the topmost branches were beyond my fingertips, so they are for the birds. The adjoining garden was playing a Doris Day album all afternoon so the strains of The Deadwood Stage and singing Whip Crack Away  we got the job done.

Something cool and zesty to help refresh the mind and body in these hot and sultry days

Kir Martini:

1 part of blackcurrant liqueur
2 parts extra dry vermouth
7 parts gin
twist lemon peel

- mix all in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Friday, 19 July 2013

A dark and inky joy

Along with most of the soft fruit the blackcurrants are ready to be picked. I've been up early to be in the orchard by 7.30 while the weather is still cool, and part of the orchard is still in the shade. A small robin darted onto one of the low branches of the currant bush and fixed me with a bright gaze while I picked. The blackcurrant foundation gives handy tips on how to grow blackcurrants and get fat juicy berries of your own, and explains why British blackcurrants are the best in the world.

Grown in Russian monastery gardens in the 11th Century and cultivated in Britain since the 16th Century. A delicious wonder fruit jam packed with vitamins C and E, and with claims that it prevents heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's, it would be madness not to drink it. To this end I bring you a twist on the classic Black n' Black

Mother's Black n' Black:
Pour 2-3 of shots of blackcurrant vodka into the pint glass, top up with Guinness - behold the delicate pink head. Take a deep pull and enjoy the dark malt and bitter chocolate of the Guinness infused with tart and tasty blackcurrant. 

As the good folks at Guinness have always said - it's good for you.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Flaming July

Mother's Ruin HQ is basking in a week of heat and longed for sunshine. Deep from within the raspberry canes her warm timbers creak and settle as the soft fruit bushes ripen around her. 

Intensive picking activity is interspersed with eating cherries and strawberries sun-warmed and sweet, and straight from the plant.

Is there anything more dreamily seductive than an English summer day? - perhaps because there are so few of them

This week both the gooseberries and the blackcurrants are ready for picking. The fridge and freezer are now filling up and the berries await their glorious death in vodka.

The gooseberry show season is about to start, with the first on 27th July at the Crown Inn at Goostrey, Cheshire, followed shortly by the Queen of all gooseberry shows at Egton Bridge on 6th of August. One of the last remaining strongholds of gooseberry stardom where the noble and ancient art of growing gooseberries the size of eggs is celebrated. To toast those heroes of the fruit world a gooseberry cocktail...

La Grosella (Spanish for gooseberry) Per person,
muddle/crush six gooseberries, then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St Germain (elderflower liqueur) and a 2 oz. of mezcal or tequila. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry. Yum!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Summertime's in bloom

 The soft fruit harvest is just gathering pace with the blackcurrants darkening and the gooseberries fattening and just beginning to yield to a gentle testing squeeze. These three hot bright days will bring them on and I'm planning a Sunday in the orchard picking. Every once in a while there is a year when the birds leave my sweet cherry tree alone. And this year is that year. Too rare and delicious for liqueur production (although now I think about it maybe a few bottles of cherry gin) I plan to stand amongst the low branches and eat them dark and sweet straight from the tree. Mother loves you, but not enough to give you her cherries.

The best I can offer is a divine and classic cherry cocktail from 1915

The Singapore Sling
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz cherry liqueur eg Heering
1/4 oz triple sec or Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
2oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz lime juice
dash of bitters
marascino cherry/pineapple to garnish
 Instructions: Shake hard or blend for a foamy texture, strain into a collins glass. Garnish. Find a shady spot and enjoy.