After the earlier rains rotted all the sweet dark cherries, I turned my attention to the other cherry trees in the garden. They held a smaller, very red cherry. The French call these cerise originel, the Yanks sour cherry and we often refer to them as the morello cherry.
Nothing can be more fulfilling than preparing a feast of epic pleasure for your dearest and oldest friends. To lay a table with glasses, flowers, champagne and evening sunshine.
To present the ones you love with rich, simple tastes, to spoil them with fresh seasonal flavours and to sit together and toast your 30-year friendship with laughter and memories. What could be sweeter than simply being together under a star packed sky.
A dish of perfectly juicy and roasted quail teamed with baked aubergine, tomatoes and local goats cheese, sets off the main course. The quail marinated in crushed garlic, herbs de provence, salt and pepper and oilve oil for as long as you have – pan roast the tiny birds so they become golden and crisp – roast them off in the oven for a little time – constantly check them to keep them pink and juicy. Place the sliced aubergines in a dish, drizzle them with olive oil and anoint with S&P, bake in a hot oven for twenty minutes before placing the sliced tomatoes and crumbled cheese on top – roast again for another ten minutes until all is caramelised and soft A rich red poured into deep glasses to drink with. The time gentle floats around you as you savour each mouthful and smile with your luck.
A good ripe Coulommiers camembert, a super poky roquefort and a hard pourtalet, the last of last autumns creamy walnuts and a juicy pear make for the perfect cheese course.
Hours later, the sun has well set, the stars, planets and satellites course above our heads, the wine and food has left us mellow and at peace. Finally we finish with a plate of roasted nectarines – dusted with cinnamon and served with a generous spoonful of creme fraiche mixed with natural yogurt, icing sugar and fresh vanilla – adorning them. We have feasted like kings and we are at peace with the world – all is good and we are blessed with this moment.
June has been awash, literally, with lashings of rain, buckets of sunshine then lashings of rain. The guests have poured south and it has been back-to-back entertaining.
The washing line has groaned under its weight of duvet covers, sheets, towels and pants. Every night for nigh on a month we have dined like rich, gluttonous lords. The wine has been swimming, the cheeses oozing, the salads crisp, the meat roasted and juicy, the melons fat and swollen and the gout ready to make an appearance.
Despite the sweat and hard work involved in having fun 24-7, several bottles of sweet refreshing elderflower have been made, and consumed.
Fortunately the sour cherry crop is fabulous, though nearing its time now, their sour sweet almost over-ripe taste is divine. The sour cherry jam produced is a thing of beauty, its crimson jelly sweet and dripping off the finger the fat cherries sitting on top glistening like sweet red lips. Several kiln jars of sour cherry vodka have been rustled up in anticipation of autumn and a glassful of sweet lingering summer memories.