Friday, 21 September 2012

plums, a poem, a recipe for rosemary marsala syrup

plums and nectarines with rosemary marsala syrup
i didn’t drink alcohol until my early twenties. my first memory of a screwdriver is far from endearing. but that wasn’t the case for boozy puddings and cakes or chocolate with liqueur. my first brush with the latter was with cherries surrounded by a thin and sharp kirsch sealed in a shell of chocolate. many years later when i met o i discovered that love tastes bittersweet like the memory of those kirsch chocolates. since then i have had many chocolate liqueur loves like contrieau, rum, champagne truffles and squares of milk chocolate with a capsule like centre of pear liqueur. 

i instantly took to the theatre of christmas pudding flambéed with brandy, and although the halo of blue was pretty, it was the bitter richness of the pudding mediated with soft custard that i loved the most. i also have a startlingly clear memory of rum baba of which i was allowed a miniscule portion, as i was deemed too young for it. but it wasn’t until i moved to england that i discovered a liqueur and fortified wine galore. one of my favourite pairings for both of these is with fruit. some fruits are good macerated whilst others take to being poached like pears in marsala, brandied prunes or rum plumped raisins. 

last weekend my grand parents came to lunch. it was a really warm day and i made a summer lunch of baked salmon with bulghur salad packed with lots of herbs, caramelised red onions, butter beans and leeks softened in olive oil. my grand parents always have a little sweet something at the close of lunch and dinner, most often a thin wedge of cake. but i was not in a mood to bake. looking into my vegetable drawer i found cold plums with a keen sweetness, and a couple of nectarines too. they are the kind of plums that remind me of william carlos william’s poem ‘this is just to say’ because i could not resist eating one as i came up with dessert. 

i decided on making a syrup that would bring a little interest without affecting the ripe flavours of both stone fruits. so i brought forth the bottle of marsala, a pinch of salt, a sprig of rosemary and a scant bit of sugar. the rosemary infused a clean scent and freshness and cooking it on very low heat preserved most of the alcohol from the marsala. this would be delicious over a scoop of vanilla ice cream as well. 

{rosemary marsala syrup} 

half a cup marsala 
three quarter cup water 
quarter cup sugar 
a sprig of rosemary 
a pinch of sea-salt 

combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the barest simmer. then lower the heat and let the liquid reduce at leisure. 

i like mine to be quite a slim consistency retaining the ‘thin feel’ that i associate with liqueurs. you can adjust it to your liking. remove the sprig of rosemary before serving. 

we poured the still warm syrup over slices of ice-cold plums and nectarines. i am very proud to say that my grand father loved it so much he even had seconds. 

p.s. here is william carlos william’s poem ‘this is just to say’. 

I have eaten 
the plums 
that were in 
the icebox 

and which 
you were probably 
for breakfast 

Forgive me
they were delicious 
so sweet 
and so cold 

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